Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wild Fermented Sauerkraut

You can't read a blog written by a German and expect to get away without a sauerkraut recipe. What is sold around here as sauerkraut is way too sour for my taste, and the imported stuff from the German grocer is extremely pricey (and not even organic...). So I have learned to make my own, and this process, simple as can be, has not failed me yet. Even the husband who is generally underwhelmed by kraut (and potatoes! How did I fall in love with this man??) likes it, as do the children. You can cook it in a slow cooker with a little chopped apple, and a slice of ham steak or some franks thrown in. It's a great meal that's healthy, yet comforting and satisfying. Of course it's probably healthiest eaten raw. 


1 medium head of cabbage, white or red
2-3 Tbsp sea salt 
The kraut weighed down by the plastic bag 'stopper' 

1. Have very clean hands and a clean workspace. This step shouldn't need saying, but it's especially important for fermented foods.

2. Slice the cabbage in a mandolin. Layer the cabbage into a large bowl as you shred, adding about a tsp of salt every inch of cabbage. You can adjust the salt based on personal taste but adding too little is probably a bad idea, food-safety-wise. You should add something like 2 Tbsp total for a medium head of cabbage. 

2b. OPTIONAL: add a small amount of caraway seeds at each layer, if you like the spice.

3. Then you need to massage the cabbage with your hands. This is kind of exhausting on the wrists. You will know when it's 'happening'. The cabbage will soften considerably, wilt and exude liquid. Ideally, there will be enough liquid to cover the kraut in a crock, but you may have to make some salt brine for backup. 

4. For some backup brine, boil water and add salt till it tastes salty but edible. Maybe a cup and a tsp? I eyeball it.  Let it cool down. Actually, you may want to do that first thing :-)

5. Then you put the kraut into a clean wide-mouth mason jar, or other clean crock, and push it down pretty hard. You don't want air bubbles. Keep it wet, too, with its own juice or add brine. When you're running out of cabbage, make sure the liquid covers the top and no kraut sticks to the side of the jar at the top, because that would get gross. 

6. Some people add a piece of cabbage leaf as a sort of 'lid' to hold the shredded cabbage down. I have not tried that yet. The method that works great for me is to insert a clean, new, food storage plastic bag into the top of the crock/jar and fill it with water. That sort of pushes out any air in there, you may help with something like a wooden chopstick to get bubbles out. 

7. Then you put a clean kitchen towel over the top of all that, secure with a rubber band, and set in on a plate (something always runs over and spills but better than getting air in). Put it in a cool dark place for 1-2 weeks. I had one sit for 6 weeks just now and it was totally good after that still. 

 The Self Sufficient HomeAcre
Shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday


  1. I am growing cabbage for the first time, and love sauerkraut. It is one thing I'm hoping to make, pinning to my canning board.

    Would love for you to share at a new link up, Real Food Fridays.

  2. We didn't get any cabbage from our garden this year but I'm really wanting to give homemade fermented saurkraut a try. Thank you for linking this up to the HomeAcre Hop! We'd love to have you back again tomorrow.