This sauerkraut recipe has become my staple, my “go-to” kraut.  It’s a very simple ferment to make and comes out very satisfying to the palate.  I’ve also learned that red cabbage has significantly stronger health-generating capacities than green cabbage.  Aside from having 6-8x the vitamin C equivalent of green cabbage and powerful probiotic content, the deep color of red cabbage reflects a strong concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, which have health benefits including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacities.  Cabbage, especially in its raw fermented form is also revered by some as beneficial in supporting the treatment of ulcers and other stomach and digestive related issues.

Although I’ve been vacillating as to whether to call this fermentation recipe purple cabbage sauerkraut or red cabbage sauerkraut, one thing is clear from my perspective, it’s delicious!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Fermentation time: 10-21 days (some leave it to ferment for up to 6 weeks)
Yield: 2 quarts

2 heads red cabbage
2T salt
1 1/2T juniper berries
1T carroway seeds


  1. Begin by removing the outer leaves of the cabbage it they are looking a little sketchy. If they look fine, you should at least wash them off a little to remove potential contaminants.
  2. purple cabbage-1Chop the cabbage. I prefer to cut it in fat ribbons about 3/8 – 1/2″ wide.  No need to grate it.  I compost the dense nub that remains at it’s base.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the sliced cabbage with the salt and let sit for 30-60 minutes until it starts to sweat.
  4. Mix in the juniper berries and carroway seeds and place everything including any liquid at the bottom of the bowl into a fermenting vessel.  I prefer using a 1 gallon glass cookie jar.
  5. Press down very hard using your fists or other implement. You’ll notice that you can squeeze out a little liquid which will pool at the bottom. After you tire of compressing it, place something with some weight on top of the cabbage to effectively continue pressuring the cabbage while you are resting. I prefer a 1/2 gallon glass jar filled with water.  The salt will help to leach liquid from the cabbage.
  6. Compress with your fist a few more times over the next hour or two and try to get the liquid level up higher. Your goal is to have the liquid cover the cabbage completely to provide an anaerobic environment within which the fermentation can take place.
  7. If, after several hours or overnight, you can’t get the liquid level high enough, add some water (without chlorine please) to cover by at least 1″.  Stir well to equalize the salinity level.
  8. Place the weight on it.  A half-gallon glass jar is fine, but I’ve started using a clear plastic bag filled halfway with water and tied closed while allowing the bag to remain loose (not like how they fill the bag tightly when you buy a goldfish).  You can place that loose bag of water (make sure it doesn’t have any leaks) into your fermenting vessel and allow it to settle in and take the shape of the vessel.  In that way, a nice seal is made around the edge to keep oxygen and other potential contaminants out.
  9. purple cabbage-4Cover with a clean towel and let it sit for 2-3 weeks. Feel free to taste it every few days to gauge the progress of the fermentation flavor.
  10. Once it gets a nice tangy flavor, place it in the refrigerator.  I prefer to place in mason jars first so they are ready to hand over as gifts as desired.  The fermentation should take about 10 days or so but that will vary with room temperature and other factors.

Great as a side dish, tossed into a green salad, in a tortilla or dosa with almond/cashew butter and avocado, or on a veggie burger, or heaven forbid on one of those nasty kielbasas which squirt you in the eye when bitten.


Red Cabbage Sauerkraut — 34 Comments

  1. Wow, 2-3 weeks! Unless those spices slow it down, you must really like it sour! I start refridgerating and eating mine after 3-4 days. I usually do more of a curtido, with carrots, a little onion, a couple chilis and oregano added to the cabbage. I will try this recipe though, juniper and carroway sounds nice!

    • You are missing out on the important second ferment. It may taste fine, but the health benefits are not there if you only let it sit a couple of days. I ferment mine for 12 weeks and its not any more sour than its after 1 week but the probiotic bacteria count has increased by millions.

    • Fermentation requires 3 stages. After 3-4 days you haven’t even completed the first stage. Going through all stages insures that any unwanted bacteria has been killed. It takes at least 3 weeks to go through all 3 stages. I let mine ferment for at least 6 weeks, if not longer.

      • After trying the Red Sauerkraut I will never go back to the green…SOOOO Good! And I read 7X more nutritious.

    • Anyway it continues to ferment a bit in the fridge!
      Mine is also ready after 2 – 3. Days! I live in Oman where it’s hot so it ferments too quick!
      However it’s perfect now in Jan Feb when it’s cooler!

  2. Is there an alternative berry I could use…I have never seen juniper berries for sale at any of my grocery stores. Thank you for the recipe!

      • They aren’t on the shelves here (I live in Wyoming & other than in Jackson Hole we’re a bit behind the times unfortunately…don’t get me wrong though, I LOVE my state.) I will check on the mountain for fresh and look online for dried juniper berries. Thanks for the tips!

        • At least you live in one of the most beautiful places in America. I love Wyoming. You’ll be fine making Sauerkraut without Juniper Berries too, but it is a traditionally used ingredient. Good luck!

          • Yes I do! I love my home state too, its an amazing place. Okay…I will try to find them online if I can’t I’ll just omit it. If I like the recipe I will just have to plant some juniper bushes next year. Thanks so much for your help!

  3. I’ve never made sauerkraut before and was looking for some recipes. Yours looks and sounds delicious, I’ll know in a few weeks. By the way, I was quite surprised to learn you’re in FB, I’m in Point Arena. Small world isn’t it!

  4. Hi Ted

    I’ve been diagnosed with gastro reflux that affects my throat too.
    I love fermented food like kimchee and pickles especially ginger and lime pickles.

    Would eating them aggravate my condition? The doctor did say I need to avoid hot, spicy and oily food – that leaves me with boiled and steamed dishes options.

  5. Hi Ted

    Tq for the reply.
    I find that pickle ginger soothe my throat while citrus drinks make me difficult to swalloW.

    I’ll drop by again sometime to update you with my progress (bought some napa cabbage & kale to make kimchee and purple cabbage to try your sauerkraut recipe today).


  6. I have just been advised to eat sauerkraut and kimchi to cure my acid reflux – i have been on drugs for 3 years – which tho they helped, have wiped out my gut bacteria – so tho I have always HATED sauerkraut, I am now loving it – and if `i feel a reflux coming – a spoonful sorts it out very swiftly, quite amazing. Soused herrings are good for it too.
    – but I am having trouble with my first attempt – making the easy red kraut….maybe my jar is too small, and I think I didnt keep the air out properly – if a little hairy mould appears on top – does that mean I have to throw it all out???

    • If a hairy mold starts to grow, I would recommend throwing it out. If you are more daring as I tend to be, you can remove the moldy layer, then mix it all up again and see if the mold comes back In a few days. If it doesn’t, you’re probably fine.

  7. My first batch I left to ferment five months…. really, really, really good. My second batch (that I’m currently waiting on will go for six.

  8. I read that ferment times can be as little as two weeks. My first batch went for five months… so good. I’m currently working on my second batch and I;m going to let it go for six. I read that one person had a batch that had been overlooked in a cellar. Said it had been put up in 1999 ( I think the post was made in 2014.) Said it looked good (had been put up in jars) so they tried it. Said it was the best EVER.

  9. Hi Ted, I have followed your instructions but I am not getting much liquid after 12 hours of compressing the cabbage and spice mix. My cabbage is home grown red cabbage, the salt I used is coarse Celtic sea salt. Am I doing anything wrong?

    • It’s hard to know for sure if you’re doing something wrong. Since the salt is coarse, it won’t have as much surface area contact. Have you tossed your ingredients around now that it’s been sitting for awhile? This would ensure that the salt would dissolve and then have an ability to impact more of the cabbage as far as how much water is being released.

      Did you use more salt since you used coarse salt. I have a note in my post: which mentions this: “Please note regarding the use of kosher salt – when measurements in Tablespoons are used in this article, that the salt used is a normal grained sea salt or table salt. For courser grained salts such as kosher salt, there is less salt by volume since there is more room for air between the grains. This of course depends on the size of the grain, but a good rule of thumb is that if you are using kosher salt, use 25% more by volume.” Perhaps you need a little more salt?

      It’s also possible that your cabbage simply isn’t as dense and heavy with water as other cabbages are. If you salt quantity is good and it’s been sitting awhile, you can always add more water. No need to add salty water as the salt you’ve initially added should dilute and disseminate throughout the ferment.

      Hope that helps! Good luck. Report back if you can.

  10. I read in so many recipes that you were only supposed to use canning/ pickling salt, Kosher salt or sea salt… NEVER table salt because of all the additives.

    • Good point Mike on the salt. I’m sure you can get away with using table salt, but it does have additives which are better avoided. I always use sea salt in my ferments. Some sea salts are an excellent source of trace minerals which are good to ingest as well.

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