Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (2024)

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Fermented foods are one of the best ways to get powerful probiotics into your diet, and this Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe is likely the most frugal and the simplest way to do it. Follow the step-by-step instructions in the post and start your gut healing today!

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (1)

Sometimes there are things that I want to do, that I know are good for me, and yet it can seem like such an overwhelming step to actually do it.

I wanted to make sourdough for years, and it was only when I was walked step by step (online) through it that I was able to actually do it, and it was easier than I thought.

Lactofermenting vegetables are like that. If you haven’t done it, it can seem overwhelming.

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Questions About Fermenting Vegetables

There can be many questions:

  • Is it safe?
  • How do I know if it’s gone bad?
  • What should it look like?
  • Smell like?
  • What will taste good?
  • What recipe should I start with?
Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (2)

It’s hard to get started making fermented foods when you have all of these questions, so I’ll do my best to address them.

How Long Does Homemade Sauerkraut Last?

Once cabbage has been fermented, the combination of salinity, acidity, and preserving bacteria prevent spoilage. It can keep almost indefinitely, although cooler temperatures are better.

After the initial stage, warm temperatures cause the cabbage to become soft and more sour.

The History of Sauerkraut

Cabbage has been fermented into sauerkraut for at least 2,000 years, brought over to Europe from China. Both the Tatar and Roman soldiers considered it valuable enough bring it when traveling (maybe it was part of their secret?).

Sailors also took it with them to prevent scurvy, a lack of vitamin C.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (3)

And, crazy enough, fermenting the cabbage actually increases the amount of vitamin C and K. Yes, the same amount of sauerkraut contains more vitamin C and K than the same amount of cabbage.

Sauerkraut is also full of probiotics; bacteria that are vital to health. These beneficial bacteria heal and strengthen the health of the gut, which in turn impacts everything from immunity to food allergies to mental health.

There are too many benefits of probiotics to list here, but I’ve written A Scientific Look at the Benefits of Probiotics, which is full of references to a slew of studies.

Basically, probiotics are absolutely necessary for good health, and fermented foods are the cheapest and freshest way to consume them.

I call this lazy sauerkraut because I let the cabbage sit with salt a while before massaging it and the salt brings out the water on its own.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (4)

All you need is cabbage and salt–other spices and vegetables are optional.

For salt, make sure there are no anti-caking additives or iodine added. This means that your regular table salt is not the best. Unrefined sea salt is the best, but there are other (cheaper) salts available. I use a rough sea salt from an Asian food store.

As well, make sure all vegetable matter is under liquid, or it will mold.

It is useful to have a fermentation weight to ensure the cabbage stays down.

You can lay a cabbage leaf over top and weigh it down with a small jar filled with water, a clean rock, or purchase pottery weights which are basically disks with a hole.

There is some debate over whether ferments should be in special airlock jars. My own opinion is that if you are just starting out, do not let that be a deterrent to beginning to ferment vegetables; the benefits of fermented veggies far outweigh the harm of delaying making them, or not getting around to it at all.

Start out with mason jars, and as you delve into the world of fermenting you can do more research.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (5)

If you are looking for more super easy ways to ferment vegetables, a delicious one is cauliflower, one of our favourites. Just break up florets, pour over salt water, and wait. Another super simple one is fermented red onions, which can be done just with onions and salt.

I don’t like raw onions, but I am continually impressed with fermented ones. They are so versatile, and I can throw them in a salad, spread, or sandwich to add a dash of probiotic goodness. Mixed with other foods, you can’t taste any sourness – in fact, the onions turn almost sweet.

If you are afraid you won’t like the sourness of sauerkraut, try a fermented fruit recipe like spiced apple chutney. It’s so good, I’ve eaten a whole quart on my own at one sitting. In the name of health, of course.

Kimchi, originally from Korea, is another great ferment of napa cabbage.

White kimchi is a version that doesn’t have any hot pepper in it, and I can barely keep up with our family’s consumption. Thered onions are also a good choice for a non-sour ferment.

What You Will Need

Knife, Mandoline Slicer, or Food Processor with Slicing Attachment
Salt
Cabbage
Large Bowl or Sauerkraut Crock and/or Large Jar
Fermentation Weights (optional but very helpful)
Bay Leaves (optional)
Caraway Seeds (optional)

Special Diet Notes

THM: This is a fuel pull for those on the Trim Healthy Mama plan.

Keto / Low Carb: Homemade Sauerkraut is naturally low-carb and works for the keto diet as well.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Fermentation

There are several schools of thought about fermenting.

Some say that easy aerobic fermentation is fine, which is the technique used in this post. Others say that anaerobic fermentation is the way to go.

The method used in this post is basically super easy wild fermentation.

If you would prefer to go the anaerobic way, this fermentation kit is a great option. Here is another great option.

A Great Book About Making and Using Fermented Foods

Want to learn to make even more fermented foods? This book by my friend, Hayley Ryczek, is a great resource. Not only does it help you make ferments, but it shows you how to use them while retaining their benefits.

Great Book!

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (6)

Fermented Foods at Every Meal:

This great book helps you easily make and include fermented foods in your diet with special attention given to retaining probiotic benefits by not overheating the ferments.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (7)

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut

Probiotics are Great for Digestive Health, but they can be pricey. Here is an Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe so you can make your own probiotics at home!

5 from 2 votes

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Course: Dressings, Seasonings, etc.

Cuisine: AIP, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Keto, Low-Carb, Paleo, THM:S, Vegan, whole30

Keyword: easy homemade sauerkraut, homemade sauerkraut

Equipment

Ingredients

  • cabbage
  • salt 20 grams for every kilogram of cabbage / 9 grams (about 1/3 ounce / {2 teaspoon}) for every pound.
  • bay leaves (optional)
  • caraway seeds (optional)

Instructions

  • Slice cabbage thinly. This can be done with a knife, a mandolin slicer, or the slicing attachment on a food processor.

  • Add salt and mix.

  • Toss cabbage and salt with your hands so it is well distributed. Let rest about one hour.

  • Knead / massage the cabbage with your hands to encourage more juice to come out.

  • Add optional bay leaves (about 1 per lb) and/or caraway seeds (about 1 teaspoon per pound).

  • Pack tightly into a jar. I usually grab a handful, drop it into the jar, and then use my fist to push it down well. You can also use a pounder, or something like a thick stick.

  • Once all the cabbage is in, make sure there is enough liquid (from kneading) to cover the cabbage by about an inch. Weigh the cabbage down, as discussed above.

  • Put a lid on the jar. Be aware that you will need to occasionally let the C02 out that will accumulate.

  • Set it out of direct sunlight and let sit for at least 4-6 weeks. 4 weeks is the minimum required for the full cycle of probiotics to develop. Exact fermenting times will depend on ambient temperature and your tastes. The sauerkraut pictured has sat for a month, and it could use a little more time.

  • Put in the fridge to slow fermentation. Enjoy probiotic goodness!

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

Have you ever made sauerkraut?
Got any tips to share?

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (8)

Naomiis originally from Canada but is now a wife and mom in Slovakia. She tries to live each day as a follower of Christ in the chaos of caring for children. Using real food and creating an environmentally friendly surrounding for her family is a priority. She dreams of a little farm while living in an apartment, enjoys handmade creations, and still doesn’t like brussels sprouts.Naomishares her food creations and photos of Slovakia atAlmost Bananas. She looks forward to connecting with you onPinterest, andFacebook.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe {even kids can do it!} | Whole New Mom (2024)

FAQs

How to make old fashioned sauerkraut in a 5 gallon bucket? ›

Instructions
  1. Remove outer leaves, wash, core and slice cabbage.
  2. Add cabbage to a 5-gallon bucket and massage in 6 Tablespoons of salt.
  3. Tamp down until the juices start to come to the surface. ( ...
  4. Use a plate and some weights to press the cabbage down underneith the liquid.
  5. Store in a dark, cool space for 5-6 weeks.
May 14, 2020

How long should homemade sauerkraut ferment? ›

At 70 to 75 F, kraut will be fully fermented in about 3 to 4 weeks. At 60 to 65 F, fermentation may take 5 to 6 weeks. At temperatures lower than 60 F, kraut may not ferment. Above 75 F, kraut may become soft.

Is it cheaper to make your own sauerkraut? ›

Why make your own sauerkraut/kimchi? There are so many reasons! COST: making your own fermented veggies is WAY cheaper than buying them at the store! FLEXIBLE FLAVORS AND SALT LEVEL: making your own fermented veggies allows you to put whatever ingredients, flavors, level of salt or hot pepper that you want.

Do you have to rinse sauerkraut before cooking it? ›

The best way to know is to just open the bag and taste a little bit of the sauerkraut . When it has already a nice taste (not too salty) that you like, you don't have to wash it before using it. If it's very salty then rinse it to get rid of the saltiness.

Why do you put vinegar in sauerkraut? ›

Vinegar is an acidic medium commonly used in commercial pickles, sauerkraut and condiments to give the final product a sour, tangy flavor.

What is the ratio of salt to cabbage for sauerkraut? ›

The most widely used ratio of 2.00%–2.25% weight of salt to weight of cabbage gives the best results. This means you add 2g to 2.25g of salt for every 100g of finely sliced cabbage in your recipe.

How many cabbages for 1 gallon of sauerkraut? ›

Quantity. A 50-pound bag of fresh cabbage makes 16 to 20 quarts of sauerkraut. A 1-gallon stone crock holds 5 pounds of shredded cabbage, and a 5-gallon crock holds 25 pounds.

How long to ferment sauerkraut for most probiotics? ›

Ideally, you want to ferment sauerkraut at room temperature with the right amount of salt for 21 to 28 days. Not only does fermentation preserve food, but it also improves food. Sauerkraut lactic acid fermentation occurs when bacteria break down compounds in sliced cabbage under controlled anaerobic conditions.

How do I know when my homemade sauerkraut is done? ›

The rule of thumb when it comes to sauerkraut is to just keep tasting the sauerkraut until the taste is to your liking. The sauerkraut itself should be safe to eat at every stage of the process, so there is no real 'fermentation time'.

What kind of cabbage is best for sauerkraut? ›

Round cabbage (also called white cabbage or simply cabbage) is the best cabbage for making sauerkraut. The cabbage is dense with smooth leaves and weighs on average around 2 kg. Light green cabbage will give you the best results!

Which is better canned or bagged sauerkraut? ›

In order to reap the probiotic health benefits of sauerkraut, buy refrigerated sauerkraut available in bags or pouches instead of in cans or jars. Avoid sauerkraut that has vinegar or sweeteners.

Is homemade sauerkraut better than store bought? ›

Homemade sauerkraut is more flavorful than the best store-bought brands and introduces masses of wild beneficial microbes into our microbiomes. Making homemade fermented foods is not as complicated as we might fear. Homemade sauerkraut can be as simple as three ingredients.

Is sauerkraut better for you raw or cooked? ›

Raw sauerkraut has probiotics in it, which are really good for your digestive system. Probiotic is a Greek word meaning “promoting life.” Probiotics are microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed.

Do I need to add brine to sauerkraut? ›

If your cabbage isn't submerged in about 1cm depth of liquid after 24 hours, add some extra brine. Dissolve 1 tsp salt, (always use pure sea salt), into 250ml water and add, or multiply and add enough to cover the cabbage.

How long does homemade sauerkraut last? ›

If you are refrigerating your sauerkraut, it should stay fresh for about four to six months after opening. It's important to know when you're using it and sealing it after each use because if new bacteria come in contact with it, it can immediately become spoiled.

Should homemade sauerkraut be cooked? ›

It can be eaten raw or cooked; in fine-dining restaurants, it's sometimes even served drenched in champagne. Read our guides on the health benefits of sauerkraut and the health benefits of fermenting.

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