How to Make Sauerkraut: Foolproof DIY Home Fermentation

How To Make Sauerkraut

If you’re looking to add some fermented fare into your diet then learning how to make sauerkraut is the perfect place to start. This sauerkraut recipe uses only two ingredients and is very versatile. It can be added to grain bowls, salads, sandwiches, or eaten as a side. By making homemade sauerkraut you’ll be reaping many health benefits.

What is Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut is pickled cabbage, which has a zingy flavor and light crunch in texture. Shredded cabbage gets soaked in a brine for several weeks, which allows the cabbage to ferment and its signature sour flavor to develop.

This recipe for homemade sauerkraut is made the traditional way, unlike the shelf-stable conventional sauerkraut you see at the supermarket, which is usually loaded with preservatives and sometimes artificial ingredients. Often, it is pasteurized or contains vinegar, which can kill the beneficial bacterium in sauerkraut, lactobacillus.

Healthful store-bought sauerkraut will be in the refrigerated section (most likely at a health food store) and costs a bit more than the shelf-stable stuff. Sometimes it still may lack the beneficial bacteria that homemade sauerkraut has. So you can save your money and ensure you’ll be getting all the probiotic benefits by making your own.

Sauerkraut Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Sauerkraut

This probiotic-rich food is good for more than just dressing up hot dogs. It is rich in lactobacilli — good bacteria that not only prolong sauerkraut’s shelf life but also strengthen the digestive tract’s functioning.

Probiotics are believed to be helpful in managing a number of ailments including IBS, IBD, constipation, intolerances, and allergies. Probiotics are especially beneficial to those taking antibiotics since it can restore the balance of bacteria in the gut.

Kitchen Tips

For this recipe, you will need to ensure you are using unrefined sea salt. Refined salt, also known as “table salt” is stripped of its nutrients and is not conducive to maintaining a healthy diet. Unrefined sea salt, on the other hand, has minerals and essential nutrients that will allow your sauerkraut live up to its full potential.

To get the best texture of your sauerkraut, you’ll want to slice the cabbage thinly. For extra thin cabbage slices, cut along the longest side of each wedge of cabbage. This will allow you to get long, skinny strips that are perfect for sauerkraut.

What You’ll Need

Ingredients For Homemade Sauerkraut

Mason jar
Cutting board
Chef’s knife
Large mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Kitchen towel

1 head of cabbage
1 ½ tablespoons of sea salt

How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut

How To Make Sauerkraut

Start by removing the two outermost leaves of the cabbage and discard. Next, rinse the cabbage under cool water and gently shake out over the sink. Pat dry and then transfer to a cutting board.

Chop the stem off the cabbage and discard. Slice the cabbage down the center, and then cut each half again down the center to form 4 wedges. Cut each wedge diagonally along the bottom edge to remove the core. Discard.

How To Make Sauerkraut

Place cabbage on the longest side and begin to slice along the edge to form thin, long strips. Repeat with each wedge.

How To Make Sauerkraut

Measure out 8 cups of cabbage and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of sea salt to the bowl of cabbage and let sit for about 10 minutes.

How To Make Sauerkraut

With clean hands or a wooden spoon, massage the salt into the cabbage. If using your hands, squeeze the cabbage while you mix which will draw out more moisture. If using a wooden spoon, press down on the cabbage as you mix to achieve the same results. Within about 5-8 minutes, the cabbage should be softened and there should be at least an inch or two of liquid (brine) accumulated at the bottom.

How To Make Sauerkraut In A Jar

Transfer the cabbage to the jar and then pour the liquid over it. Pack down the cabbage using the wooden spoon until the cabbage is completely submerged in brine. Weigh down the cabbage with a small, sealed jar filled with water or a peeled onion (halved if necessary). Press the weight down so the cabbage is tightly packed.

How To Make Sauerkraut In A Jar

Cover the jar with a clean kitchen towel and seal with a rubber band. Let sit for 7 days and then taste test. If the sauerkraut is not tangy enough yet, you can let it ferment for up to 2 more weeks. Once done fermenting, transfer to the refrigerator for storage for up to several months.

Sensational Sauerkraut Pairings

After you’ve learned how to make sauerkraut, you’ll most likely be looking for some sauerkraut dishes. Luckily, sauerkraut is very versatile and can pair with a variety of recipes, even ones that don’t specifically call for it. Try enjoying your kraut with one of these recipes!

Sauerkraut DishesImage of veggie bowl via Feisty Veggies

The Ultimate Vegan Veggie Bowl Recipe
Swap shredded red cabbage for sauerkraut in this wholesome vegan veggie bowl. The sauerkraut will pair well with this nourishing, energizing meal.

Sauerkraut Dish: Tempeh ReubenImage of tempeh reuben via Suzanne Landry

Tempeh Reuben Sandwich
A generous slathering of sauerkraut is a must when making a Reuben sandwich. This plant-based Reuben uses tempeh instead of meat. Tempeh’s nutty flavor complements the tart taste of sauerkraut and makes for a divine pairing.

Teriyaki Bowl with Edamame and Pea SproutsImage via Kimberley Stakal

Teriyaki Bowl with Edamame and Pea Sprouts
Sauerkraut is a great addition to macrobiotic-style meals like this protein-rich plant-based teriyaki bowl. The sauerkraut will help you digest the fiber-filled edamame and add a tangy twist.

BBQ Jackfruit Pulled Pork RecipeImage via Karissa Bowers

The Ultimate BBQ Jackfruit Pulled Pork Recipe
Skip the slaw and dress up this BBQ jackfruit pulled pork sandwich with your homemade sauerkraut instead. The kraut will add an extra burst of flavor that complements the smoky flavor of the jackfruit.

Related on Organic Authority
How to Cook Cabbage the Right Way: Cue Up the Crunch!
Bringing Back the Lost Art (and Science) of Fermented Foods
Addictive Pickled Carrots Recipe With Radishes and Secret Spices

Images via Karissa Bowers

Karissa Bowers
Karissa Bowers

Karissa Bowers is a fashion and food blogger living a compassionate lifestyle. Karissa is the blogger of Vegan À La Mode where she shares her favorite vegan and gluten-free recipes and also her eco-friendly cruelty-free style. Her love for photographing food and her outfits, drove her to develop a passion for photography. After a few years of honing in on her photography skills, Karissa launched her business, Karissa Bowers Photography, where she shoots weddings and portraits. When she’s not taking photos or in the kitchen, you can find Karissa traveling and trying new vegan restaurants.