Quantcast

How To Make Raw Sauerkraut

I must say, I’m pretty proud of myself.

I made my own raw sauerkraut.

I’ve eaten it.

And I’m still alive to tell the tale.

Whew!

Fermenting my own veggies has always terrified me, since I was convinced I’d probably do it wrong and wind up with botulism. But people have been eating fermented food for centuries, so it can’t be as scary as it sounds, right?

Right.

In fact, it’s surprisingly easy to make and is WAY cheaper than buying the store-bought stuff! For a just a couple dollars, you’ll have more fresh sauerkraut than you’ll know what to do with!

Not to mention, it’s loaded with friendly bacteria for your gut, which has been shown to improve digestion and the absorption of vitamins and minerals. So, eat your fermented veggies!

Homemade Raw Sauerkraut

Ingredients:

1 head green or purple cabbage
2 Tablespoons sea salt
Spring or distilled water, as needed

Tools:

Wood cutting board
Sharp knife
Glass jar
Large glass or metal bowl
Metal Tongs
Ziploc bag (if needed for added weight)

Directions:

Step 1: Sanitize your tools!
You want to start with really clean tools. Sanitize your jar, knife, cutting board, tongs and glass bowl with boiling water, which should kill off any lurking bad bacteria. We only want the good kind growing in our veggies!
Step 2: Prepare your cabbage.
Rinse cabbage well, and remove the large outer leaves.

(You’ll want to save these for later.)

Using a sharp knife, simply shred the cabbage and transfer it to a large glass bowl.

Add about 2 Tablespoons of salt, then, using tongs or clean hands, massage the cabbage until it starts to break down from the salt. It will release moisture and reduce in size.

Step 3: Transfer to a jar.

Transfer the massaged cabbage to a clean glass jar, preferably one that is large enough to fit your hand through the top. The most important part of making fermented veggies is that you remove all the air in the jar–> so you want to pack the cabbage tightly, leaving no gaps! I used my fist to punch it down, but a clean wooden spoon would work, too.

Step 4: Cover with water and reserved cabbage leaves.

Like I mentioned above, the key to properly fermented sauerkraut is making sure there is no air remaining in the shredded cabbage. While there is already plenty of moisture released from the cabbage to make the brine, I like to add a little extra spring water (do not use tap water!!) to make sure the liquid level is completely ABOVE the shredded cabbage.
Once you’ve added the water, use the reserved cabbage leaves to press down the shredded cabbage–> keeping it submerged under the liquid.

Ideally, you’d fill up the jar all the way to the top, but mine didn’t work out that way. If that’s the case for you, too, simply fill a plastic bag with salt water (in case it bursts in the jar, you want it to be salt water!) to use as a “weight.” Place the salt water bag on top of the large cabbage leaf layer, and seal the jar. You should be able to see the liquid layer above the shredded cabbage line.

Step 5: Store in an insulated bag for 3-7 days.

If your house is a too warm or too cold, the insulated bag ensures that the fermentation process is kept at an even temperature. My sauerkraut took a full week to reach the classic “tangy” flavor this time around, but it may take less time in warmer climates. You can start checking on it after 3 days, just make sure the liquid level is high enough each time you re-seal the jar!

Once the sauerkraut has fermented to your liking, remove the weight and outer leaves and discard.

*I’ve heard that it’s not uncommon for a layer of mold to develop on the outer leaves. This doesn’t mean your sauerkraut is ruined! Simply discard the layer of mold, and everything underneath the brine should be safe. As always, use your best judgement–> if it smells off, don’t eat it.

Step 6: Store in the fridge and enjoy!


I’ve had raw food teachers tell me that raw sauerkraut can last almost indefinitely in the fridge… but hopefully you’ll eat it all before you can test that theory. It will definitely last for months in the fridge, so feel free to make a BIG batch!

Once you’re comfortable making your own sauerkraut, feel free to get creative with the veggies you add to it! Ginger, beets, carrots, garlic, and lemon juice all make tasty additions.

4.6 from 7 reviews
Homemade Raw Sauerkraut
Author: 
 
Tangy and rich in gut-friendly probiotics, this raw sauerkraut is a welcome addition to any dish!
Ingredients
  • 1 head green or purple cabbage
  • 2 Tablespoons sea salt
  • Spring or distilled water, as needed
Instructions
  1. Start with really clean tools. Sanitize your jar, knife, cutting board, tongs and glass bowl with boiling water, which should kill off any lurking bad bacteria. We only want the good kind growing in our veggies!
  2. Rinse cabbage well, and remove the large outer leaves. (You'll want to save these for later.)
  3. Using a sharp knife, shred the cabbage and transfer it to a large glass bowl. Add about 2 Tablespoons of salt, then, using tongs or clean hands, massage the cabbage until it starts to break down from the salt. It will release moisture and reduce in size.
  4. Transfer the massaged cabbage to a clean glass jar, preferably one that is large enough to fit your hand through the top. The most important part of making fermented veggies is that you remove all the air in the jar-- so you want to pack the cabbage tightly, leaving no gaps! I used my fist to punch it down, but a clean wooden spoon would work, too.
  5. While there is already plenty of moisture released from the cabbage to make the brine, I like to add a little extra spring water (do not use tap water!!) to make sure the liquid level is completely ABOVE the shredded cabbage.
  6. Once you've added the water, use the reserved cabbage leaves to press down the shredded cabbage-- keeping it submerged under the liquid.
  7. Ideally, you'd fill up the jar all the way to the top, but mine didn't work out that way. If that's the case for you, too, simply fill a plastic bag with salt water (in case it bursts in the jar, you want it to be salt water!) to use as a "weight." Place the salt water bag on top of the large cabbage leaf layer, and seal the jar. You should be able to see the liquid layer above the shredded cabbage line.
  8. Store the sealed jar in an insulated bag for 3-7 days. You can start checking on it after 3 days, just make sure the liquid level is high enough each time you re-seal the jar!
  9. Once the sauerkraut has fermented to your liking, remove the weight and outer leaves and discard. Note: It's not uncommon for a layer of mold to develop on the outer leaves. This doesn't mean your sauerkraut is ruined! Simply discard the layer of mold, and everything underneath the brine should be safe. As always, use your best judgement-- if it smells off, don't eat it.
  10. Store in the fridge and enjoy! The sauerkraut will last for months in the fridge, so feel free to make a BIG batch!
Notes
Once you're comfortable making your own sauerkraut, feel free to get creative with the veggies you add to it! Ginger, beets, carrots, garlic, and lemon juice all make tasty additions.

Reader Feedback: Have you ever made your own fermented veggies? If not, are you willing to try it now? Now that I’ve done it successfully, I’m excited to enjoy cheaper sauerkraut more often!

60 comments to How To Make Raw Sauerkraut

  • Sarah

    I’m embarrassed to admit the only time I’ve eaten sauerkraut is on a Reuben sandwich. (!) Now that I am cutting meat out of my diet and adding lots of veggies, can you suggest a couple of ways to use the sauerkraut?

    • I bet that’s probably how many people eat their sauerkraut! ;) Fermented veggies are actually great for pairing with animal products, as they will aid in their digestion, so if you have a meal with meat, eggs or cheese, eating some sauerkraut before or with the meal could be helpful.

      Like most probiotics, I think experts recommend taking fermented vegetables on an empty stomach before a meal. Personally, I don’t enjoy eating them plain, so I like to add a few tablespoons on top of my salads– especially the ones topped with raw goat cheese. The sauerkraut adds a wonderful tangy flavor and crunchy texture, and would also be a great addition to a veggie sandwich or wrap! I wouldn’t suggest cooking with it, but serving it on the side or on top of any cooked meal would be tasty, too!

      I do recommend starting gradually with fermented veggies– they are powerful, and can make you feel bloated if you eat too much too soon! A couple tablespoons is a good start, then build up to eating 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup each day.

      Hope that helps!

  • Wow, I didn’t realize how simple it was to make raw sauerkraut! This is such a great idea, I may be trying this out soon. It totally does sound scary, but by the looks of the ingredients and steps, it doesn’t look that bad now!

  • Sam

    Hi
    Megan it is funny how everyone makes it differently my father I have part of my family still in east europe where fermented veggies is very popular my father grandfather makes it that they do not put any wather you have to press it massage it like for 15-20 minutes and cabbage release own water(this water you have to remove) and leave it fermented for 2-3 weeks at least. This kind of sauerkraut I store not in fridge but in basement for whole winter and it is good. The impostatnt thing is to massage to release water and not other water to add but remove the water from cabbage and only leave little wet.

  • That’s so awesome you made your own! I have also wanted to try it but been a little leary…this is great! Sounds so simple too!!! Happy Memorial Day!

  • Robyn

    Love sauerkruat to,,,on top or side of everything,,,especially salads…I’ve made my own with or without other vegies. So easy, so good.

  • I’m impressed! I do love sauerkraut and yours looks delicious.

  • jen

    I bet I’d like eating it, but the process of making it still just makes me want to sit down and stare at my computer instead of sterilizing jars and knives! Oh well, maybe someday I’ll do it.

  • I totally agree. Fermenting foods scares me :( But it’s a good thing my hubby loves doing it. I’m going to pass along this recipe. Thanks!!

    T

  • This does seem a little daunting but you do explain it well so I think it might be one of the things that I try to conquer this summer! I just tried sauerkraut for the first time last week and I actually liked it! Now that I know it is edible and that it is so good for digestion I really want to start incorporating it more!

    I know I have said it before but I really enjoy your “what I ate” posts as well as your exercise posts!

  • Mercedes

    It’s so funny you post this because JUST yesterday I was watching Kimberly Synder’s video tutorial on her website about making her Probiotic and Enzyme salad and had my first go of it yesterday, with red cabbage! I’m a little scared, but it already has bubbles, so I think that’s promising? Anyway, I was wondering where you got your insulated bag? Can you just get them anywhere like Whole Foods or Bed Bath and Beyond?

    • Yes, I’ve found insulated bags at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. You could also use a travel cooler or insulated lunch box, depending on the size of your jar!

      Hope your sauerkraut turns out well! :)

  • […] scaredy~cat when it comes to things like that). The Detoxinista has a great & easy recipe here if you want to give it a try. There are a million benefits to eating fermented foods, try to add it […]

  • Terry Gourley

    We’ve been making huge (as in 200 quarts) batches of sauerkraut for about 30 years. We make it in crocks, letting it ferment for about 2 months. If you “stomp” the cabbage until the juice flows, there is no need to add water (which will seriously dilute the flavor). This is a 2-times-a-year family tradition for us- once to make it and once to can it. It’s a great way to keep the siblings, kids & grandkids close.
    And we have a bunch of blue ribbons from the county fair to brag about!

  • I do recommend starting gradually with fermented veggies– they are powerful, and can make you feel bloated if you eat too much too soon!The important thing is to massage to release water and not other water to add but remove the water from cabbage and only leave little wet.

  • Lynda

    I’m on my third try with your sauerkraut recipe! With my first batch, the liquid overflowed my jar on Day 2, so I thought this might contaminate it– I threw that batch out. On my second try (which I did not fill as much), we sampled it after three days, and it had not fermented enough, but we contaminated it by accidentally double-dipping with the fork. To be on the safe side, we threw out batch #2! The third batch is currently on Day 6, but I’m concerned it might be contaminated because the liquid at the top of the cabbage has turned brownish. This scares me! Have I ruined yet another batch? Help!

    • Kelly

      Just my two cents: I doubt you’re “contaminating” it by double-dipping into it w/ a fork. If there’s enough good bacteria being created in the ferment, it should crowd out any ‘bad’…

  • Kelly

    Thanks for the easy, clear recipe.

    My only concern with your version is the use of the plastic bag inside the glass jar — surely some chemicals could leach from the plastic into the cabbage, especially considering all the fermentation that’s going on. Plus, the ‘spring water’ in a plastic bottle. I’d suggest either sterilizing water from the tap by boiling it, then letting it cool in a glass container, or using a high quality filter.

    Thanks,

    Kelly

    • Yes, the plastic bag isn’t ideal– preferably, you’d fill the jar all the way to the top, so you won’t need a weight at all! I had heard that even boiled tap water may affect your results, because it may not remove all the chlorine and additives, which is why I used the bottled spring water. But, yes, the plastic bottle isn’t the best choice. Next time I’ll buy the kind that comes in glass bottles!

  • Kelly

    Megan, thanks so much for this post. I am trying to make raw kraut for the first time and used a different recipe…I have a couple of questions, 1) I may have used too much salt and the recipe I made it from said that after the fermenting process and transferring to the fridge for a month, you should rinse it off before eating it…does that sound right? I may have goofed here but any help would be appreciated (I’m on day 4 of the fermenting process). Thanks!

    • Hmmm… I’ve never rinsed my sauerkraut before, but I would imagine if you’re rinsing it AFTER the fermentation process, that’s totally fine! (And probably a good idea, to reduce sodium consumption!)

      Hope it turns out well for you! :)

  • Barbara

    Where do you get a jar like that?

  • Hannah

    Thank you! What a lovely, informative recipe! I like the way you think Meagan :) I need to heal my gut, and am starting here.

  • Keith

    What a great sauerkraut tutorial and you are quite pretty!! I may start eating like you if I can look as healthy & gorgeous as you (in a male body of course). What a pretty smile….God bless the internet!

  • Usona Asher

    Hi, just want to tell you that I make my own Sauerkraut too….
    But you don’t have to use so much salt,some recipes use no salt! They say it is better for you but does not last so long! My recipe is as follows…

    5 pounds shredded cabbage
    3lbs.salt
    fresh garlic (or not)I love it!
    fresh dill

    • Usona Asher

      3 tbs.salt not 3 lbs.!

    • Phearce

      Please do not attempt a “low salt” or “no salt” sauerkraut recipe until you have made at least a couple of batches of typical brined sauerkraut. You want to be completely comfortable with the fermenting process, and familiar with the stages the fermenting cabbage goes through first.

      The salt serves several purposes. First, during the massage part of the recipe it begins breaking down the cabbage. But more importantly, it helps create an environment in which the beneficial bacteria can flourish.

      Consider this: if you thoroughly cleaned all your utensils and prep surfaces before making the sauerkraut, there should be no bacteria and therefore no fermentation once the cabbage is submerged in the brine, right? Of course this isn’t the case, and millions of bacteria will survive. Your job as the Ferment-Meister is to ensure that the good bacteria thrive, thereby crowding out the undesirable bacteria.

      There are actually several type of bacteria that successively break down the cabbage during fermentation. With a little practice you can use your nose to identify how far along in the process your sauerkraut is. By the end, between the salt, the “tanginess”, and the overcrowding it’s a pretty inhospitable environment, and all growth essentially grinds to a halt. Et viola, you’ve got delicious sauerkraut!

      At any rate, stick to the salt recipes. As pointed out, you can always rinse the sauerkraut before serving to remove excess salt — and it will still be one of the best things you can eat!

  • Usona Asher

    Oh no! I meant to say in above recipe,3 tbs.salt……………………………………… I want to add that as soon as you put the salt on natural juice start coming out of the cabbage,use your hands to mix the salt in.Put into crock(I just ordered a big fermenting crock on line,still waiting for it to get here)tamp down until juice covering.

  • Irene

    Hi, was wondering if Savoy cabbage can be used or just stick with the smooth cabbage?

    Thanks for any input.

  • Irene

    So I made my first batch of kraut 1 week ago. Have been skimming off the bloom every couple of days and tasting it each time. Today the cabbage seems to be soggy, not crip/crunchy at all. Is this okay? Will it get a little cripy/crunchy when it’s put in the frig? It certainly smells like kraut, but doesn’t have the taste. Did I do something wrong?

    • Megan

      I’m definitely not an expert on fermented veggies, so my policy is usually “when in doubt, throw it out.” I’d rather be on the safe side when it comes to growing bacteria! In my personal experience, I prefer not to open the jar during the fermenting process because that may expose the kraut to extra oxygen, which can lead to the batch spoiling. I think it’s best to let it sit, and leave it alone until you think it’s ready– then taste. My sauerkraut is usually softer than raw cabbage, but it should still have a crisp to it.

  • Magdel louise Kuypers

    Fantastic

  • […] You can order kefir online here and you can make your own sauerkraut reasonably cheaply at home – here is an awesome […]

  • Laurie Lauriston

    I have never really tried making sauerkraut and I really want to try it, but I think if maybe I tried, the sauerkraut would turn out really bad.Can you help me?

  • Scruffy Old Bear

    Question about sealing while fermenting: My wife’s first batch was in a quart Mason/Bell jar with a sealed lid using the ziploc water bag for weight approach. Our second half gallon batch was in a plastic container with a sealed lid and a larger ziploc water-filled bag. Both batches tasty and nobody threw up. My recent batch is in a Lowes 5 gallon food-grade pail with a lid sitting loosely on top but not sealed. In all cases we washed with hot soapy water and well rinsed all tools and containers but no sterilization. For this big batch I shredded 3 huge and two medium sized cabbages then massaged 1 tbsp sea salt and about two pounds of cabbage at a time in a large mixing bowl, massaging only for a few moments. It got surprisingly wet. Maybe I don’t massage it, maybe I choke it. I’m wondering if the large brine supply is because the cabbage is fresh-harvested from some Amish friends’ garden plus a fresh huge cabbage from our garden. Does older store-bought cabbage dehydrate? Then I dumped the contents into the big barrel. As each new bowl was added, the cabbage already in the barrel was looking wetter, darker and a bit softer. Finally I compressed the whole mass down with my fist and the natural brine, with no water added, was at the top of the shredded cabbage. The barrel was half full. I double-bagged and placed a 2 gallon freezer ziploc full of water on top as a weight. Before making this 3rd batch I read one web site that said to place a towel over the fermenting jar/pot/barrel to keep out dust and insects but let it breathe, so this time it’s not sealed. It’s been 48 hours, the natural brine is high, bubbling is occurring, no scum foam visible yet (never did see any in the earlier batches), and I’m curious to know if the breathing approach is wise. Our Amish friend is a first-time sauerkraut maker and she uses Mason/Bell jars. She reported the presence of foam scum plus the gases popping the loosely-fitting jar lids like she would leave them when doing regular fruit canning. Plus she did add salt water and did not press the contents down (no internet for her to research technique). I would appreciate any insights. P.s. I’m 64 years old and getting into all this natural fermentation now as part of a total food & drink reformation to undo the effects of years, decades of, hmmm, let’s just call it toxic intake, that’s why I like the name of your site, which I intend to explore more fully. Thanks.

  • Stephanie

    If I keep my sauerkraut in a ‘cool’ basement and in the bucket it has fermented in…how cool is cool?

  • Charlie Sommers

    For another healthful food that is sauerkraut’s cousin I suggest Korean Kimchi. A garlic and hot chili infused fermentation that has helped Koreans through the winter for centuries. Very tasty and super healthful, also easy to make.

  • […] on the blog over the next couple of months but for the moment, why not look into making your own Sauerkraut, Kombucha or […]

  • […] the Farmer’s Market, and I’m thinking of giving it a try for myself. I found a good tutorial, but has anyone else ever tried this before? Would love to hear other […]

  • Stella Darke

    My home-made sauerkraut tastes way too salty for me and as I specifically want to eat it for the benign gut bacteria. If I rinse it will that get rid of the bacteria?

  • Bob Greene

    Megan, your presentation is concise and shows you have modified / refined the process.

    The appeal of the approach is (1) one head of cabbage or equivalent mass of vegetables can be used per batch and (2) salt appears to be optional.

    > To clarify, can salt-free sauerkraut be produced by your method?

    > Bonus question– what camera and lighting (if not natural light) did you use to create photos for your presentation?

    Thanks, BG

  • […] found this step by step guide and after seeing how seemingly easy it was I was determined to make my own. And seriously guys, […]

  • […] How To Make Raw Sauerkraut – The Detoxinista […]

  • Claire

    I make sauerkraut all the time and it comes out great. I have never sterilized anything, not even washed the jar that was in the cupboard. I don’t add water, just mash the cabbage and salt with a potato masher until the juices are abundant. I then stuff it into a mason jar, cover it with a cabbage leaf and make sure the liquid is above the leaf. I check it every few days and push the cabbage down to bring up the liquid if needed. Put it in a dark cabinet for a week or sometimes six weeks if I don’t need it right away. I have never had a bad batch.

  • […] on the blog over the next couple of months but for the moment, why not look into making your own Sauerkraut, Kombucha or […]

  • To better control the salt content of the brine, I mix one tablespoon of non-iodized salt with each pint of boiled or bottled water.

    The Chinese use rice wine instead of salt to make sauerkraut. I use one-half cup rice wine for each one-and-a-half cups of water. I have found that grape wine works equally well. They both make a delicious sauerkraut with a very sparkling taste.

    I have made sauerkraut at home for years. I bought a Harsch crock, which you can order online and found it very much worth the investment.

    You can ferment nearly any vegetable using this method. I generally add chopped onions, garlic, shredded carrots, and sliced cucumbers to the cabbage. They all add their own special flavor to the mix. A wonderful way of pickling vegetables without adding salt or vinegar!

    I always include cabbage with other vegetables, as I believe that the bacteria on the cabbage leaves are robust enough to drive out unwanted bacteria.

    Nothing is healthier.

  • your recipe looks absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing. We love to make our own raw sauerkraut at home and are huge advocates for getting more probiotic foods into our diet. At EATProbiotics we also wanted to make fermented foods more easily available and so we created a line of raw sauerkraut and raw kimchi that is packed with probiotic cultures. Would love for you to check them out!

    http://www.eatprobiotics.com

  • Pat

    I love sauerkraut and have tried two batches … but both have a metallic taste that develops about three days after I’ve refrigerated it. Don’t understand what going wrong. Ordered some Caldwell Culture Starter and will try that. Any thoughts?

  • […] way to prepare: sautéed with garlic and onions; made into raw sauerkraut (for the yummy probiotics); raw in a […]

  • Eliza

    Thank you so much for the tutorial. I just made two jars and I cannot wait to try it. I will wait one week to taste it and I will let you know how it went.
    Thank you, Eliza

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Rate this recipe: