Sauerkraut is one of the easiest fermentation recipes to make. The critical factor in fermenting successfully is making sure that you have an anaerobic environment (meaning sufficient liquid to cover the cabbage) for the fermentation to take place in. Without it, it can be easy for mold to grow on the surface.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Fermentation time: 7-14 days
Yield: 2 quarts

2 heads (3 pounds) of cabbage (purple or green, or use both!)
2 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Juniper berries (optional but nice)
1 Tbsp Carroway seeds (optional but nice)


  1. To make the sauerkraut, start by removing the outer leaves it they are looking a little sketchy. it they look fine, you can leave them and at least rinse them off a little to remove potential contaminants.
  2. Chop the cabbage. I like to cut the cabbage almost in half, from the top to nearly the bottom. Turn it a quarter turn and do the same again. The cabbage should be nearly in quarters but not yet falling into pieces. Turn the cabbage on it’s side and chop through in 1/2″ wide slices. Some people prefer to grate the cabbage, but I find that to be tedious, unnecessary and ultimately less satisfying. I also prefer the larger pieces and the crunchiness that remains after the cabbage has fermented.
  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 carroway seeds and juniper berries
  5. Place everything, including any liquid at the bottom of the bowl, into a fermenting vessel.  I prefer a 1 gallon glass cookie jar, but of course a fermenting crock will do
  6. Press down very hard using your fists or other implement. You’ll notice that you can squeeze out more 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 pressure combined with the salt will help to leach liquid from the cabbage.
  7. 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 for the fermentation to take place in.
  8. If, after several hours, you can’t get the liquid level high enough, add some water (without chlorine please) to cover by at least 1″.
  9. Place the weight on it to keep cabbage from floating to the surfae
  10. Cover with a clean towel and let it sit for a few weeks. Feel free to taste it every day or to gauge the progress of the fermentation / flavor, and place it in the refrigerator when you feel it’s ready. It should take about a few weeks or so but that will vary with room temperature and other factors.

That’s about it for this recipe. The probiotics are great for your digestive system and overall health in general and the flavor and texture is fantastic. Many people believe that for maximum probiotic benefit that it should be left to ferment for 6-8 weeks.  I just don’t seem to be able to wait that long while my mouth is watering!


Sauerkraut — 6 Comments

  1. Hi! Just wondering… Is it really necessary to leave the weight on after you’ve established that the liquid is completely covering the veggies, or can you just put a towel over it and let ‘er go?

    • Hey Joe. I have two thoughts on this. The first is that the weight also serves the purpose of keeping the veggies from floating to the surface. When they are in contact with the surface, they are more likely to attract and develop mold. The 2nd thought is that perhaps you may be diluting the saltiness of the brine too much if the vegetables are able to remain under the brine without benefit of the displacement and compression provided by the weight. If you want to try without the weight and see what happens, I’d appreciate your writing back here and letting us know what you’ve found out.

      • In response to Joe: If you don’t leave the weight on….some of the veggies will float to the top and spoil your batch. anything floating on the surface will spoil. Once your fermenting process starts, there will be lots of (and constant) gas bubbles forming that carry up any loose bits up to the top of your ferment. Even using plates as weight with food safe bags filled with brine on top to keep everything submerged…..some little bits will escape to the surface. You have to keep a watch on these every few days and scoop any bits out that have floated to the top.

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