How to Make Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe & Tips

how-to-make-sauerkraut

Learn how to make a delicicous bowl of sauerkraut from fresh cabbage.

Crestock

Store-bought sauerkraut can’t compete with the homemade stuff. Follow our sauerkraut recipe to learn how to make sauerkraut of your own!

Tips Before You Start

  • Sauerkraut is prepared entirely in a brining crock. Don’t worry about going out and buying an expensive stoneware crock—”crocks” can be any unchipped enamel pot or large glass jar. The gallon, wide-mouth jars that restaurants use to buy pickles in work beautifully. 
  • If you have an old crock you want to use, don’t use it if there is a white film on the inside that disappears when wet and reappears upon drying. That crock has been used for waterglassing (preserving) eggs; there is no way to remove it and it will ruin your sauerkraut. 
  • The old jingle “A hand in the pot spoils the lot” is completely true. Keep your hands, and any metal object, out of the crock. Use wooden spoons and mashers and glass or crockery for dipping and weighting. 
  • The best and freshest ingredients will yield the best sauerkraut. You can make relish with your old, tough cabbage, but use your young, fresh, tender cabbage for your sauerkraut.

How to Make Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut has many uses; from piling it on sandwiches to covering bratwurst—to even making a cake with it—you will have no trouble finding uses for your homemade sauerkraut.

  • For a 1-gallon container, core and shred 5 pounds of cabbage. Measure out 3 tablespoons of pickling (or kosher or dairy) salt.
  • Alternate layers of cabbage with a sprinkling of salt, tapping each layer with a wooden spoon or potato masher. The top layer should be salt. This will not seem like it’s enough salt, but it will give you a 2 ½ percent solution, the perfect strength for fermentation. 
  • Boil an old dish towel or piece of sheeting for 5 minutes and cover the crock with it. Weight this down with a flat plate the size of the inside of the crock and weight it down with a canning jar full of water. If you’re using a glass jar, you won’t need to weight it down. Let it sit for a day. 
  • If you used fresh and tender cabbage, by the next day you should have enough brine to cover the cabbage. If you don’t, make more brine by adding 1 ½ teaspoons to a cup of water and add enough to cover.
  • In 2 or 3 days, white scum will form on the top. Skim this off, replace the cloth with a newly boiled one, wash the plate, and replace it all. Repeat this skimming (a 5-minute job) each day until the bubbles stop rising, or for about 2 weeks. Then your sauerkraut is done!
  • At this point, simply keep the cabbage below the brine with the plate, cover the crock tightly, and store at 40°F to 50°F. If your cellar isn’t that cool, heat the sauerkraut just to simmering, pack in canning jars, seal, and process in a water bath 20 minutes for quarts, 15 minutes for pints.

Sauerkraut Recipes

Try your freshly made sauerkraut in these recipes!

Interested in pickling or fermenting other garden vegetables? Here are some tips on how to make kimchi, another fermented dish made with cabbage—and good for digestion, too! Also learn how to make dill pickles, an old-fashioned classic.

Wondering when to make sauerkraut? Some folks swear that the best days are by the Moon’s sign. See our Best Days timetable.

How did your sauerkraut come out?

Source: 

The Forgotten Arts, Book Five, 1982

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

sauerkraut

Just made 10 pints of sauerkraut, cut up the cabbage, stuffed into the jars, added 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each jar, added different spices to each. Filled each jar with hot boiling water to cover the cabbage, left the lids loose. This is my mothers recipe for sauerkraut that turned out great. Except I know she never had a place to store the jars at a cool temperature below 70deg. If I put these pints jars in a refrigerator temp below 40, with lids left loose, will the sauerkraut still make good??

CAUTION

I don't know why they don't mention this in the article, but a woman/girl who is within a day or two her period should NOT be involved in making sauerkraut. It will spoil it.

WOW

Misogynistic much?

Spoiler alert

That is just not true. People used to say the same about making biscuits or bread during that time--that the biscuits won't rise. I have made a lot of food items during 'that time' and it was always just fine. Not sure where those myths started unless somewhere back in time there was some woman who told men those things because she didn't want to cook. Good for her.

probiotics are completely useless if heated

making sauerkraut and kimchi and any naturally-fermented pickled veggies is fine, but remember if you want digestive aid, that will only happen if you consume the finished product WITHOUT heating. if you cook the fermented products, all probiotics die. why do these sites never mention this? same with sourdough bread. unless you eat the raw dough, which i do not suggest, all probiotics die upon reaching a relatively low heat.

Making Sauerkraut

We've made kraut for years, and used to make about 100 lbs at a time! Canning was always a very time consuming process, and one time after making, my late father mentioned that on the farm, in Manitoba they used to simply put the crock in the back porch over the winter, where it froze! When they wanted some, would go out with an ice pick and chip off the amount, and then cook it! That got me thinking, and tried freezing the raw kraut in zip lock bags! We tried it and would never can it again! Simply open the frozen bag and cook it!

Sauerkraut

Is is OK to us Himalayan pink or gray salt? I don't have any other kind, currently.

what kind of salt to use to make sauerkraut

You should use pickling or kosher salt when making sauerkraut.

makeing home made sauerkraut

when in crock covered with towel and weight what temp do I keep it at first few days and after that for the 5 weeks

adding broth to fermenting kraut

I ate at a German restaurant & had the best kraut I have ever had. I asked for his secret to the flavorful kraut & he told me the secret is to add a little beef broth. He said it was a family secret from Germany so he would not tell me how much broth or how strong or exactly when to add(before fermenting or after). Your thoughts?

sauer beans

I remember my mom and dad making sour(sauer) beans. Fresh green beans.
They had a gadget that made them french cut. And I remember the beans going into glass bell jars and every so often, they skimmed something off the top. They kept the jars in the basement. Eventually, they put the lids on the jars. Would I prepare the green beans just like the recipe for the sauerkraut? Thanks.

fermented green beans

Hi, Charlotte. You could try it, but we think the seasoning would be off. We don’t have a recipe to offer, but try doing an internet search for “fermented green beans.”

Sour kraut

Try Sour Kraut on a Pizza. Delicious.

D.

sauerkraut

Take sterile quart wide mouth jars. New lids and rings. Shred the kraut, fill the jar up to the neck. Add1 level tablespoon of pickling salt,, fill the jar with room temperature water. Make sure the kraut is covered. Do not use city water because it has chemicals and chlorine. I use well water from our spring out of the tap. Put on the lid and ring ,, not tight. Put the jars in the basement or away from sunlight until Christmas. It will ferment and stink, but you will have the easiest and best saurkraut ever.I have done this for 50 years and it is awesome.

YUM

I love real, fermented sauerkraut, but generally just buy it because I've never had good luck making it (Bubbies.com is my favorite BTW!) but I think I'd like to try it again using your directions. Part of my problem, I think, was I was fermenting during a really warm summer and had the wrong salt content. Oh well, fermenting is definitely a learning process!

70 degree temp?

It's already getting warm here in south Texas, even in the house maintaining cooler than 70 degrees will be hard to do. Making my first batch, is being less than 70 critical to the process of making the kraut?

proper temperature for making sauerkraut

Yes, it must be kept cooler than 70 degrees F. That is important. One reader posted below that they buried their crock in the ground because they couldn’t maintain a temperature lower than 70.

Sauerkraut and Rhine wine ?

I would like to add white wine to the brine , is that possible , I used to get sauerkraut in Rhine wine in Germany and it was the best ?

add wine to sauerkraut brine

Yes, you can add some wine.

Sauerkraut

People talk about sauerkraut being ready in two to three weeks. The first batch I made I left for five months. My second batch (which I'm working on now I will leave at least that long... I might even try six). This batch has been setting four.... can hardly wait. I've been without sauerkraut too long.

Hi,

Hi,
How do I keep the cabbage under the brine? I know this sounds silly, but if I put the cloth down and tge plate and Mason jar on the top, won't the cloth wick all of the brine and keep the top exposed?

Erik, use a 1 gallon crock,

Erik, use a 1 gallon crock, place as many saucers on top of shredded cabbage as you have heads of cabbage. Place an 8 pound weight on the cabbage. 3 heads of cabbage means 3 saucers. This allows enough room for juice to accumulate for fermentation and should keep juice from overflowing. I use a 4 liter wine bottle mostly filled with water as a weight. Wrap with plastic wrap, punch 1 small hole in plastic for gas to escape, wait 3 weeks.......sauerkraut.

We made a very large batch of

We made a very large batch of sourkraut and used a granite slab to hold down the mix. At the end of the 6 weeks the brine had disolved part of the stone turning it into a sand like feel. Was this a bad idea and should I discard this batch and start over.?

Tips

GREAT TIPS - First, Use Morton Natural Sea Salt !!! It is like pickling salt, no additives or caking agents, HUGE DIFFERENCE !!! NON-IODIZED SALT with NO ADDITIVES. 2nd, add a teaspoon of sugar in the bottom, it kick starts the fermentation, and converts to harmless alcohol. Third, if you have a little juice from a good batch, throw that in, its called a "mother" and it also kicks start the fermentation. All natural mother please, no vinegar. Happy, happy, happy...

Aye-aye, Captain. We’ll run

Aye-aye, Captain. We’ll run this up the flagpole to readers. (Salt is a critical ingredient, readers, so be careful to use the proper type.)

Thanks for the advice! Smooth sailing!

 

sauerkraut

i made some sauerkraut and it the water is real cloudy, do you think it is OK? it smells like it is gone bad, can that happen? in the be gaining i added some water because it was starting to smell, is that why?

Cloudy is seldom a good sign.

Cloudy is seldom a good sign.  Plus, if it smells bad, Gary, if probably is bad (sorry it took us so long to get back to you).

White curds on sauerkraut scum

I make my sauerkraut in a 15 gallon crock, and then can it. This year it got white curds on the sterilized sheeting, between tamping and cleaning the scum off. I never had those before. Is my sauerkraut still going to be o.k.? It smells good and is probably almost ready to can. I also sterilized my cloth, plate, and weight (a big rock), in my microwave on high for 3 minutes, which worked great.

Sorry to be so late in

Sorry to be so late in responding, but we are not certain about your method, especially “sterilized sheeting.” The white sediment may be the result of the salt you used; or it could be yeasts. It may have developed because the kraut was not submerged in the brine. It should not be a problem/harmful.

Sauerkraut

I have a stone crock but no lid to fit in it to cover the kraut. Can I make one from wood.

Pages