Homemade sauerkraut is so much better than what you can buy in the store. It requires only two simple ingredients and a little bit of time. The result is a side dish that goes perfect with every single meal!
Why add Sauerkraut as a daily side to your meals?
- It’s delicious! But let me confess to you before I go any further. A few years ago, I read some very convincing articles on why to eat sauerkraut every day. Without EVER even tasting it before, I made some for myself and now I’m hooked! But not just for the taste. Sauerkraut is full of many rich benefits!
- Those rich benefits include tons of Vitamin B, C and K, fiber, iron and loads of naturally occurring enzymes and probiotics! These aid in supporting our immune system – something I believe we all desire during this crazy season of life.
- Daily consumption of sauerkraut can also improve digestion and people who eat a tablespoon before meals claim it helps with heartburn. Personally, when I go without fermented foods I’m more prone to stomach aches. I believe that eating sauerkraut daily helps in balancing a healthy gut flora.
- When it comes to homemade sauerkraut versus store bought, always choose homemade. It is simple to make, more economical and much more beneficial. Store bought sauerkraut is processed and pasteurized, which kills off the probiotics found in homemade raw sauerkraut.
- For more information on fermented foods, Click here to read about their rich benefits and why they are so important for our bodies.
If you prefer Video
My step by step video shows you the tools you need to get started and what the fermentation process looks like along the way. For easy to follow instructions, here is the link to my simple, How to Make Sauerkraut video.
Tips and Troubleshooting:
- There may only be 2 ingredients to sauerkraut, but ratios are important when it comes to proper fermenting. So here is an easy rule of thumb to remember as far as the salt to cabbage ratio goes. Use one heaping tablespoon of unrefined salt to every head of cabbage. This will be enough salt to allow proper fermentation, as well as add a depth of flavor to the cabbage without tasting too salty.
- You are certainly not limited to using only green cabbage. We love to add red cabbage for the beautiful rich color profile and the extra health benefits it offers. Red cabbage is heart healthy and rich in nutrients and vitamins. I once heard we should “eat the rainbow”. So keeping that in mind, I often add red cabbage to our sauerkraut for those extra added benefits.
- I always recommend using unrefined salt. I explain more about this under my “Why” section. Click here to find out why I always chose unrefined salt.
- If you don’t have a weight, add something heavy (ie: rock or kids toy) to a ziplock bag and press air out. Add another ziplock bag around your weight for good measure in case there is a leak. A bag of water tightly sealed will also work just fine as a weight. Anything to keep the cabbage under the brine to prevent mold.
- Use your nose. You’re excited because your kraut is finished and ready for the fridge. However, you open and it smells rancid. STOP! I advise you to err on the side of caution. Sadly say your goodbyes and toss it. In all my years I have only needed to do this one time. I don’t know what went wrong but there were weird, white strands of mold that had taken root and it smelled bad, so I tossed it. As you burp the lid on your sauerkraut each day, check for mold and give it a quick smell. Make sure its aura is sour and not rancid. And when I say rancid, it’s a smell so vile, you can’t help but toss it to the outside garbage immediately! But remember this is rare, so don’t let this negativity effect your efforts to make your own homemade sauerkraut!
- Go ahead and dip into your kraut after a few days to give it a taste test. I recommend waiting at least 3 days to allow some good strains of probiotics to make their grand entrance. Try it again after 4 or 5 days. When it tastes right to you, remove those top cabbage leaves and stick it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process. The strains of probiotics only get better with age so you can let it ferment for even 3 to 4 weeks if you like. I used to leave it for 14 days but my kids prefer the mild flavor after 7 days. There is no “one size fits all”. You’re in charge and you make the rules!
I hope I’ve convinced you that this is the best side dish you can offer your family and that you feel confident to give homemade sauerkraut a try. I know there is some fear surrounding the idea of fermented foods. I promise you will not put you or your family in danger for letting food sit on your counter for a week. If you follow my simple instructions to properly prepare, you will be just fine and soon be benefiting from all sauerkraut has to offer!
Here is my simple recipe for making some of your own homemade sauerkraut.
- 1 head organic cabbage
- 1 Tablespoon unrefined salt
- Remove outer layer of cabbage leaves and set aside for later. Using a large knife, quarter the cabbage to remove the hard inner core.
- Place quartered cabbage chunks into a food processor to shred. Or thinly slice cabbage with a large knife.
- Add shredded cabbage into a large bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of unrefined salt over cabbage.
- With your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage. Continue to squeeze cabbage with hands until juices start to pool at the bottom. You're creating the brine to ferment the cabbage in. Cabbage should be nice and limp, and when squeezed together, a nice brine should flow.
- Transfer cabbage to a quart sized mason jar. Using a wooden spoon, press and tightly pack the cabbage down to remove any air.
- Take the cabbage leaves set aside from earlier, fold and place them over shredded cabbage. Press down so liquids rise overtop but try not to allow the shredded cabbage to come overtop folded cabbage leaves.
- Add a fermenting weight to the top of the cabbage leaves. If you don't have a weight, add something heavy (ie: rock or kids toy) to a ziplock bag and press air out. Add another ziplock bag around your weight for good measure in case there is a leak. A bag of water tightly sealed will also work just fine. Anything to keep the cabbage under the brine to prevent mold. **You may add filtered water to cover the top if there is not enough liquid to submerge your cabbage**
- If you have a special fermenting lid, seal your jar tightly and leave alone until ferment is finished. If you use the lid the jar came with or other plastic lid, lightly screw lid on. Twice a day slightly untwist jar lid to release any pressure build up and liquid overflow. This is called "burping". So burp your jar twice per day, if you forget a time or two, it's not a big deal.
- Place your jar onto a plate or into a dish to catch any liquid that overflows from burping. This is called "sweat" and happens as carbon dioxide builds up. It is a normal process but you don't want the mess all over your counter.
- Ferment your sauerkraut for one week, and up to 4 weeks. Flavor enhances as the weeks go by. Our family prefers the taste after 1 week. Go ahead and taste the sauerkraut as it ferments to determine what length of time you prefer.
- When finished, remove the weight and added cabbage leaves. Cap, refrigerate and enjoy!
Your sauerkraut will last between 6-12 months in the fridge. As long as it looks and smells good, it will last a long time!
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The following are affiliate links to my amazon shop where you can purchase the tools you need to get started on your fermenting journey: