How To Make Raw Sauerkraut

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Raw sauerkraut is 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!

fork full of saurkraut

 

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.

Plus, 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.
cabbage leaves on a cutting board
Rinse cabbage well, and remove the large outer leaves.

(You’ll want to save these for later.)
cutting cabbage leaves on a cutting board with a knife
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.
cut cabbage in a large glass 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.
pouring water into jar of cut cabbage leavesOnce 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.
glass jar filled with cabbage and water
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!

jar of saurkraut in a fridge
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.

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4.44 from 16 votes

How To Make Raw Sauerkraut

Tangy and rich in gut-friendly probiotics, this raw sauerkraut is a welcome addition to any dish!
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword how to, paleo, vegan
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 18kcal

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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!
  • Rinse cabbage well, and remove the large outer leaves. (You'll want to save these for later.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 18kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Sodium: 1176mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 27.7mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Per Serving: Calories: 18, Fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 4g, Fiber: 1g
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!

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Comments

Jean Harrs

Thanks so much for the recipe! I bought some at a health food store and loved it. The first time I ate it, my stomach had a nice, quiet conversation with me–just letting me know things were good I guess. Since then, no noises. Just happy, joyful tastebuds!

Teri Roberts

Curious about the sodium content. Ijust tried my first batch and it tastes too salty!

Brian Tothero

HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT IS AWESOME WE LOVE IT !
I LIKE TO EAT IT RAW (as if it were Coleslaw) !
I BUY MY HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT FROM LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS LIKE LION CLUBS OR A FIRE COMPANY
THEY MAKE IT AND SELL IT JUST BEFORE NEW YEARS DAY AS A FUND RAISER
THIS YEAR I ORDERED NEARLY 30 QUARTS OF HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT WHICH I FREEZE AND USE THROUGH OUT THE YEAR !

STORE BOUGHT SAUERKRAUT IS GARBAGE !!!!

Kylee

Hi! I am love love loving this post. I am really researching this holistic, natural, real food approach to curing all health ailments, and am really excited about fermenting. I’m just curious, one of things you hear the most about is versatility, keep changing up the foods you’re eating to cover all spectrums of nutrients. Would you recommend mixing different types of cabbage in a batch of sauerkraut or is the cabbage essentially a vehicle to deliver the yummy bacteria to your gut, more so than an actual source of nutrition?

Paul harway

when make sauerkraut show I seal lid tightly will it is fermenting?

Bretta

So what happens if you add a small amount of tap water? I had mine fermenting for. 5-6 days. The top leaves totally molded, so I removed them and wiped off the glass anywhere it touched. The water level on some of the jars wax low though, so I topped it with a tad if tap water. Did I just kill all the bacteria?

Frances James

You don’t need to be too precious with this- it’s peasant food. Ordinary kitchen hygiene is fine. Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process which is why you need to keep out the air. I use a rolling pin end to tamp it down and usually it releases enough juice without adding any extra water. I add tasty seeds like caraway or cumin which give it a warmth. Delicious, cheap and easy way to improve your gut health.

Rhianon

Great post! I learned so many great tips from it. I’ve made sauerkraut before, but I got a little discouraged; I think my salt content was too high, and it just didn’t taste very good or seemed to ferment right. I’ll definitely need to try making it again. I never even thought about putting the jar into an insulated bag- what a terrific idea!

Colleen

Thank you so much for sharing this post. I had been wanting to give this a try for a while and your post gave me the nudge (and confidence) that i needed to do it! I must say I was more than pleased with the results and am currently obsessed! I MUST have some every day now!! Thank you, thank you!

Sandy Porter

Thank you Megan, This recipe was exactly what I have been searching for. One, I love sauerkraut and am wanting to add more fermented and raw foods to my vegetarian diet. Thank you for your light filled website!

Sandy Porter

Thank you for this perfect recipe for raw sauerkraut. Just what I was looking for. What a lovely website.

Ailurophile

What type of
insulated bag did you use?

    Megan Gilmore

    Mine was a zip-up cold/hot shopping bag that I bought from Trader Joe’s.

Sam

Your pictures really helped me follow along with the recipe, I’m very excited to see how it turns out in a few weeks! Thanks for sharing!

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