Preserves and Ferments · Recipes

Easy to Make Sauerkraut

I live in the Sausage Capital of Texas. [easyazon_link identifier=”0738595195″ locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]Little Elgin[/easyazon_link], now basically a suburb of Austin with a strong rural feel, is a railroad town in a part of Texas heavy with German immigrants. With the immigrants came the sausage Elgin is famous for and of course, sauerkraut.

Now, I can safely say I’d never really had sauerkraut before I started making it myself :-). All I’d ever tasted was that canned stuff 60’s housewives used to buy for wiener roasts on hot Saturday afternoons. Always hated that stuff. So you may wonder why I ever decided to go thru the trouble to make sauerkraut the old-fashioned way after that experience. Two reasons really, I found out that making sauerkraut is easy and that it is remarkably good for you. In many places in the world sauerkraut is regarded as a miracle food. It was a very important food to the settlers here in Central Texas. At the living history museum near us I learned that one of the first things the settlers did was get the cabbage in the ground and make sauerkraut! I wondered why this was so important in our temperate climate. Now I know that sauerkraut was a culturally important food regarded as vital to good health. So it wasn’t just the love of the flavors that drove them, but concern for health.

[amz-box itemtype=’fido’]

Health Benefits

Fermented foods like sauerkraut are living foods meaning they packed with a wide range of beneficial live bacteria are absolutely necessary to the digestive process. A healthy gut is loaded with these helpful little guys, predigesting foods and manufacturing vitamins in the process. The fermentation process increases vitamins especially vitamin C and all the B vitamins, making sauerkraut an excellent source of pretty much all the water soluble vitamins.

Container Controversy

To make sauerkraut you only have to have three things: a cabbage, a crock or jar, and some salt. That’s it! So very easy! You might think there is no way to complicate this but you’d be wrong ;-). Last year a controversy broke out on the internet over exactly what kind of jar to use for ferments. At the time I hadn’t done a lot with ferments and so didn’t have much of an opinion. I did know that I’d tried open crocks and [easyazon_link identifier=”B00CNHCDR6″ locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]mason jars[/easyazon_link] without a lot of success. I also tried the [easyazon_link identifier=”B011SG30T2″ locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]Pickl-it[/easyazon_link]. I was becoming discouraged. And the controversy raged on. It seemed everyone had a strong preference. But what was working for everyone else wasn’t working for me.

[amz-box itemtype=’pyrex’]

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think these methods can yield good results in the hands of an attentive soul. That just isn’t me :-). I’d forget to skim the top or refill the little reservoir in the air-lock and boom, my ferment went bad. And I got some smelly ferments, let me tell ya. I live in a climate that is very hot 5-6 months out of the year and just plain warm another 4 months. So I found it tricky to keep my ferments cool, skimmed and topped up. Just as I was becoming truly bewildered at my lack of success, Lea over at Nourishing Treasures wrote an excellent series called Sauerkraut Survivor where she tested a very wide variety of jars. She even had a good microscope with which she could view the microscopic results of her experiment. And she included the fido jar in her test. Now, I didn’t have the money to buy a lot of special equipment for this like [easyazon_link identifier=”B013TDBJLS” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]harsch type crocks[/easyazon_link] or extra Pickl-its. I already have a sizeable collection of [easyazon_link keywords=”fido jars” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]fido jars[/easyazon_link] though and had wondered how they would work as fermentation vessels. No one seemed to talk about them much, so I didn’t know. Then Lea began to write about how impressed she was with the results from the fido. Good flavor, excellent bacterial content and nearly fool-proof to use. Perfect! Since then I’ve been using Fidos exclusively. While plain jars or crocks yield great results for many, they just weren’t working for me. The Fido and [easyazon_link keywords=”Le Parfait” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]Le Parfait[/easyazon_link] wire bail jars were my answer to making fermenting an easy process for me. And they are what makes this sauerkraut recipe super easy to do.
[amz-box itemtype=’retro’]
If you don’t have a Fido or Le Parfait jar don’t worry … I give instructions for other jars too πŸ™‚.

Cut up your cabbage ...
Cut up your cabbage …

Recipe for Sauerkraut

Ingredients
  • Cabbage1
  • Salt1 Tbsp
  • Whey (optional)1 Tbsp
Tools
    • [easyazon_link identifier=”B002XPZNP2″ locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]A good knife[/easyazon_link]
    • [easyazon_link identifier=”B01AXM4WV2″ locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]Food Processor[/easyazon_link] (optional)
Shred it in your food processor or slice thinly with a knife ...
Shred it in your food processor or slice thinly with a knife …
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00004OCOJ” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]Potato Masher[/easyazon_link] or something to stomp the sliced cabbage with.
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B01MQWPNTX” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]Quart Jar[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00N1BYMLS” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]Roasting pan[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier=”B01MU5Q63G” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]large bowl[/easyazon_link]
Instructions:
    • Peel the outer leaves off your cabbage first. Then if you have a [easyazon_link identifier=”B008J8MJIQ” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]food processor[/easyazon_link] slice the cabbage to fit in the feeder. If not, then slice the cabbage into thin sections.
    • Put the sliced cabbage in a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00N1BYMLS” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]roasting pan[/easyazon_link] or a large bowl. Add the salt. Then stomp the cabbage till it is limp and juicy. This part takes about 5 minutes or so.
    • Put the cabbage in the jar and pack it down till it’s totally covered with cabbage juice.
    • Optional step: Add 1 Tbsp of whey to your jar. While not strictly necessary I like doing this to help ensure a high LAB (lactic acid bacteria) bacteria content.
Put it in a pan or bowl ...
Put it in a pan or bowl …
  • For Fido-Le Parfait jar users: The next step I take is a little controversial, I think. Since I’m using a [easyazon_link identifier=”B01MQWPNTX” locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]Fido[/easyazon_link] or [easyazon_link identifier=”B001A5SF10″ locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]Le Parfait[/easyazon_link] jar I don’t worry to much about the water level in my jar and I don’t use a weight. If you’d like to understand why I refer you to Nourishing Treasures excellent post on how well this worked in her experiment. If you’d prefer to be less edgy simply place a weight in your fido to ensure all the cabbage stays under the brine or be very careful to pack the cabbage down well. Leave the jar out a minimum of 7 days.
    Cabbage Ready for Jar
    Stomp until the cabbage is limp and juicy …

    Most folks recommend moving your jar to the fridge at about 3-4 weeks, but I’ve been leaving mine out about 2 months with good results. Again, with that edgy thing :-). Use your judgement and decide what you feel comfortable with.

  • For other jar types: Add a weight to your jar if you are having trouble keeping your cabbage under water. Put the lid on and leave the jar out a minimum of 7 days. The jar needs to be checked periodically for scum. Skim any you find.
    Cabbage Juice
    Make sure you have lots of cabbage juice on top.

    Most folks recommend moving your jar to the fridge at about 3-4 weeks and with anything other than Fido/Le Parfait or an [easyazon_link identifier=”B017X2C5G4″ locale=”US” tag=”grannysvitalvittles-20″]airlock system jar[/easyazon_link] I myself would go to the fridge in that timeframe.

Put on your counter of in a cabinet ...
Put on your counter or in a cabinet …

[amz-box itemtype=’fido’]

More info on Sauerkraut, Ferments and Jars

 

51 thoughts on “Easy to Make Sauerkraut

  1. Could you tell me where the salt comes into play? I see it in the ingredients list, but I can’t tell where it gets incorporated…

    Thanks!

    Like

    1. Ooops! sorry ’bout that! I usually sprinkle it around right after I put the cabbage in my roasting pan. It doesn’t matter too much when you do it as long as you get it in there :-). I’ve fixed it in the recipe too. Thanks for catching that!

      Like

  2. Do you burp your jars at all? I recently started using the Fido jars for fermentation and I was worried about explosions. Seems like most of the gas build up is in the first week or so. I burped it at about day 3 – whew! what a sulfur smell and lots of gas! I didn’t notice it but DH said the entire blob of kraut whumped up and down in the jar when I released the pressure. Oddly there wasn’t enough juice in the jar, my kraut is usually plenty juicy, so I added some brine. Still no juice on top; it seems to have soaked it up. Oh well, I stopped worrying about it since Lea says if you use the Fido jar you don’t really need to have brine on top. It’s been nearly 2 weeks so I think I’ll taste it tonight and see what’s what. What’s really amazing is how many cabbages you can fit into a jar once it is shredded & salted, eh? I use 3 T salt to 5 lbs shredded veg.

    Like

    1. I haven’t burped them at all and I’m careful to make sure that I use jars with really fresh rubber seals. The Fido and Le Parfait jars are designed to release gas thru the edges of the rubber seal … haven’t had any that really seemed all that pressurized yet. I’ve heard of one case where the lid blew off when opening like sometimes happens with Grolsch bottles. I suspect the issue when this happens is older seals. I have some *really* old fido’s with rubber seals that are cracking and sticking VERY tightly to the glass. I doubt the gas would escape properly thru those. Time to order some replacement seals!

      I’m not really worried about explosions … I take a few precautions just in case. Fresh soft feeling rubber seals and I open the jar well away from my body. If you’re worried it might spray the kitchen like the Grolsch bottles have been known to do, open it the first time outside.

      Like

  3. p.s. I’ve never used whey in my ferments since many people on Discussing NT (yahoo group) report that it causes sliminess.

    Like

  4. great post!!! I used to make sauerkraut once every 10 years (when i got cabbage really cheap) and i had a nice crock! this year i discovered that my crock has a fine line on the bottom and i did not want to risk the brine to leak so i went to the jar method as well! though i have no nice fido jar 😦
    the second grand baby kept me busy but it is high time i check upon my ferments! i hope it turned out ! after all this neglect πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. You can order some Fidos on Amazon, Gudrun if you can’t find any locally. I know I’ve heard a few people complaining that they are hard to find where they live. They are easy to find here at all the fancier housewares stores.

      Like

      1. have not invested in Fidos yet, have not had time to breathe LOL BUT i did some more fermenting…
        we had a picture book perfect home birth of grand son 2 beginning of Jan. and i have been busy ever since… must not have eaten my garlic or burned that candle on both ends again but came down with some flu symptoms and was so grateful to have had my sauerkraut! since every thing else tasted like card board….. πŸ™‚
        i really have to write some entries on my website… with pictures of my kraut πŸ™‚
        keep inspiring me!!!

        Like

    1. you bet Vicky πŸ™‚ unless you get health food store kraut you are basically buying over salted fiber- then you cook it and some people even rinse their sauerkraut, cause it is too salty
      ohh the things we have done to kill food! πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Thank you for this post. I have been scouring the internet trying to learn to make sauerkraut. I just could not wrap my head around how to do it, without investing in a bunch of fancy jars or whatnot. Thank you for making it so simple. I think I can actually attempt it now.

    Like

    1. I’m so glad you found it simple πŸ™‚ … My goal is to make everything real food as simple and straight forward as I can.

      Like

  6. Pingback: Love links
  7. Pingback: January Link Love
  8. hi!! wanted to post a little update on my sauerkraut πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
    by the smiles you can tell i guess it turned out Grrrrreat!
    the second batch i shredded really fine and dared to add different things, since i made 3 different “portions”
    need to update my web site but i am thrilled with the taste of the cabbage with dill weed!!!!!

    Like

  9. I am interested in making saurkraut. What is the scum you are talking about, that is, what does it look like? Also, do you need to replace your seal with a new one every time you use your Le Parfait wire bail jars? Thanks!

    Like

    1. If you use the Fido or Le Parfait jars you won’t see any scum, most likely. I don’t replace the rubber rings very often … only when they get hard. Have fun with your sauerkraut πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. I followed your instructions using a fido jar. My question is, how do I get more juice in my next batch? This batch turned out dry and I need the juice for GAPS. What do you suggest? Make a brine and pour over?

    Like

    1. You know the last batch I made turned out the same way. I think I didn’t stomp it as much I think. There was a lot of brine when I clamped it but it all disappeared by the time I opened the jar. You could add a brine to the jar or possibly crush the cabbage a bit more.

      Like

  11. Is salt necessary with regard to the health aspect and/or can a lower amount be used? I have Meniere’s Disease and limit my salt intake to 2/3 of a tsp per day to reduce my inner ear fluid issue. I love sauerkraut but it has been out of my life for over two years now. Thanks!

    Like

  12. My mother and grandmother made sauerkraut every year for as long as I can remember. We use a 5 gallon stone crock. The cabbage gets shredded with my food processor slicer in just a few minutes. We have a large dish pan which we fill with the shredded cabbage. Mix in 1/4 cup table salt and toss with the shredded cabbage. Pound with a wooden stomper to release the juices. Transfer this to your crock and pound again to release more juice. Repeat this process, layering into the crock. We leave 4-6 inches head space in the crock. There should be brine covering the cabbage. We place a water tight trash bag in the top of the crock. Put water into the trash bag, which forms an air tight seal around the inside of the crock. Have at least two inches of water in the trash bag. Tie the trash bag shut to prevent the water from evaporating. Place the crock in a shallow container that will catch any fermentation that may boil over the crock. Leave at room temperature for 11 days undisturbed. Remove trash bag of water. The sauerkraut is ready to eat or can.
    To can, we pack either pint or quart jars tightly with the kraut, removing any air bubbles and leaving 1″ head space. Process in water bath for 20 minutes. Your kraut will keep for several years on the shelf. Doesn’t go bad unless the seal in compromised.

    I had never had “store bought” as I call it, until after I was married. Huge difference. My husbands friends and family now rage about my homemade sauerkraut. They had never tasted anything but “store bought”.

    Like

  13. i am trying this – and wondered , do i have to use “pickling” salt? i sea salt and wondered if i could use that?

    many thanks~a

    Like

      1. So does it need to have brine covering it or not – when in a fido type jar? mine is “soupy” but not covered …also should all the utensils and the jar be sterilized first? many thanks!

        Like

  14. Hi Kathy,
    I been making sauer kraut like my mom has done all her life,(she is gone now). I use a 5 gal. crock, a plate and a flat rock to put on the plate.Just to let all know this to me is the best way to make kraut. I ‘m the only one that eats it here in this house hold, but I do give some to my neighbors and they all tell me its the best they’ve eaten since their parents passed.If it sounds like I’m a bragging , I might be, but my mom gets the credit.I’am glad to see such an intrest on making sauer kraut.I just got done making canned corn and pickled pigs feet. I hope all sauer kraut makers make great kraut.Its great stuff. COOT

    Like

  15. Hi, i need help.

    I cut my cabbage in small pieces, add salt and squeeze it 5 minutes or so with my clean hands.

    I put the cabbage inside the fido jar and add the cabbage juice.

    Now is when it gets weird. When the jar is closed and stored, EVERY single day i find leaked cabbage juice out of the fido jar. It seems like there is some huge air pressure inside the jar and that’s why the cabbage and the liquid rises to the top.

    How can i prevent this?

    Thank you πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. Hi Javier … I think maybe you’re not leaving a big enough space at the top of the jar? I’ve seen this happen too and it seems like it was on the jars that were filled pretty high.

      Like

  16. I want to try making sauerkraut, the instructions seem pretty easy. The only thing is I’m not sure what we would use for a weight.

    Like

  17. I’ve been wanting to try this, but only have one 1/2 liter Fido jar. I plan on buying more, if my sauerkraut turns out, but was wondering in the meantime: how many jars does one cabbage (about 2 lbs) fill? Thanks!

    Like

    1. I think I put up 1 cabbage in the two jars for this post, if memory serves :-). Probably be a little better if they were a little more full, but this is okay.

      Like

  18. Ok kraut has fermented for two weeks…looks good. Have not burped my fido jar at all..yet. Two questions have come up and can’t find a good answer on any site yet…love your site. So, thought I would ask you. Should I burp the fido? Also can I open the jar eat some kraut then reseal it? My purpose is for gut health and nutrition. ??? I understand 8-10 weeks ferment for best probiotic content. Put in fridge at two months….does this sound right?

    Like

  19. I make sauerkraut regularly. I do it in mason jars. Every time I make some, I put it all in the jars, put them on a cookie sheet, and put them off to the corner somewhere and forget about them. When I start looking for dead mice, then I remember, “Oh, yeah! I’ve got sauerkraut going!” LOL! It still amazes me that something that can smell that bad can end up tasting so good. πŸ™‚

    Like

Comments are closed.