Homemade Sauerkraut

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This is the season for cabbage! And cabbage gallore! I have been receiving a large head of cabbage each week in my produce bin, and thus the need to be used. My sister-in-law Autumn suggested we get together and make sauerkraut yesterday. I honestly would not have thought of the idea! Thanks dear SIL! It is oh so easy!

Sauerkraut

Makes 1 quart

1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
1 Tbls. caraway seeds
1 Tbls. sea salt
4 Tlbs whey (if not available, use an additional 1 Tbls salt)

Autumn used a purple cabbage, and I used a regular green cabbage. Start by coring and chopping the cabbage.

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In a bowl, mix cabbage with caraway seeds, sea salt and whey (if available). We did not have whey, so we used the additional salt. Pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices. We also used the end of a wooden spoon for pounding, it just took a little longer, but worked wonderfully. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. The sauerkraut may be eaten immediately, but it improves with age.

This is a fun project to do with kids! Here is my sweet niece, Alita, pounding away, helping mommy and auntie!

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Autumn & Alita

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Even Karis was helping! Not quite. She looks a tad bit bored…;)

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We’ll have to let you know how it turns out in a few days, but for now, it is fermenting nicely on the counter. Our next cooking project together is bagels!

You’ll have to visit Wild Fermentation to understand the value and benefit of fermenting fruits and vegetables. Autumn & I couldn’t quite understand it all. Something about the “transformative power of microscopic bacteria and fungi”, that helps you fight disease. I am definitely not so much into their philosophy that this helps us “become one with the natural world”, so please read with discernment. They also offer another recipe that Kimi tried and preferred to the above Nourishing Traditions recipe.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

25 Responses to Homemade Sauerkraut

  1. Julie October 18, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs even though our five children are grown and now having children of their own. At 53 my husband and I continue to grow organic gardens and anjoy creating healthy foods. This past few months I’ve been trying out sauerkraut; homemade. The recipe in the crockpot didn’t go well and seemed rather unscientifically sound to me as for a safe food practice. More recently I’ve tried a few batches and my own takeoffs from a recipe at body ecology; she notes an easier way to start fermentation rather than pounding. And yes I’ve had some sizzling live batches make a great mess : [ Maybe our blogging will help us perfect this science! – My understanding is you need to have the liquid be above the sauerkraut in order to not be fermenting molds or othe harmful bacteria; does anyone know more on this subject? (It would be so cool to understand how to test it ourselves in order to prevent food spoilage, etc. One article I found mentioned you can add vinegar when you open it; evidently vinegar helps prevent any kind of food poisoning if it should be present in food.)
    I think you’re supposed to keep fermenting sauerkraut at about 70 degrees or less in order to ferment properly, which might mean keeeping it away from windows. I’m learning that I’d best check my jars on my basement shelf and let out a little liquid, as needed, in order to prevent a huge mess. I have heard of jars exploding; that’s why it’s also important to use jars that can lock down. I found ours at World Market – I make batches in larger jars and then transfer to quart size for keeping in the fridge when it’s finished, and I want the fermentation to slow down.

  2. Mary July 29, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    I just have to chime in, last week I made this 5 quarts of this recipe (gotta love that Nourishing Traditions cookbook!) and I used my Pampered Chef mix ‘n chop (I think that’s its name…the strange looking black utensil for stirring ground beef into miniscule pieces as you cook it…) to pound the cabbage and it worked PERFECTLY. It also chopped it into teensy small pieces! Handy…

    Love your site, Lindsay!

  3. Tiff May 24, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    I want to make this in a few days but I was wondering, can you leave it in the jar for a few months to a year or would you need to process it if you wanted to keep it that long?

    • Lindsay May 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

      I would imagine you would have to process it. It is only recommended to sit and ferment for 6-8 weeks or so, I believe. You can keep it in the refrigerator if you want it to last longer.

  4. Jill Thaxton September 24, 2009 at 9:02 am #

    I have a beautiful jar of salsa fermenting on my counter but I just read that the sea salt needs to be non-iodized. Have I ruined my salsa?

    • Lindsay September 28, 2009 at 6:51 am #

      I honestly do not know. I have only done sauerkraut. Did you check Nourishing Traditions?

  5. Jessa March 14, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    Lindsay, I know you’re busy right now with your new little guy. . . but I just made this on Wednesday evening and realized tonight that I should have put lids on them. I don’t know why I thought in your instructions it said to just cover with a cloth (?, I’m blaming it on pregnancy brain,LOL) but I did. I wonder if it would still be ok to eat? or do I need to start over and make sure I put lids on them this time before I let them sit?

    THanks!

    • Lindsay March 16, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

      I am sure it will be fine. Just add the lids and let it do it’s thing.

  6. Angie January 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    It’s been a week and my hubby and I ate the sauerkraut for dinner tonight with a homemade beef casserole. It was DELICIOUS! My hubby even said it tasted “way better than store-bought sauerkraut” which he doesn’t like. Yay! Thanks for the awesome recipe. (I used my food processor to slice the cabbage, which made it really easy and quick to make.)

  7. Angie January 4, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    It’s been two days and I checked on my sauerkraut which was fermenting in the pantry. It was sitting in a pool of liquid which had oozed from the jar despite the lid being screwed on tight. The metal lid was actually pushed out like it was going to burst. I slowly started to unscrew it and it hissed and sizzled like a pressure cooker! I released the pressure slowly until I opened it. It tastes great, slightly tangy. A bit too salty…I’ll cut back some next time. I did use whey (homemade from raw milk!), so that’s probably why it’s so “active.” I don’t really like the taste of the caraway seeds; is there another spice I could try? Have you ever tried leaving it our altogether? Also, I’ve never eaten a lot of sauerkraut..What’s the best way to eat it? The only way I’ve ever had it is with polish sausage, and that’s certainly not an everyday occurrence!

    • Lindsay January 4, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

      I like sauerkraut with my hot dogs! And yes, you can leave out the caraway seeds. I left them out and it is fine. Enjoy!

    • Sunny November 7, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

      I’m with on NOT liking caraway seeds!! I use celery seed in my sauerkraut and it tastes wonderful. Hope that helps.

  8. Angie January 2, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    I just made my first batch of sauerkraut this morning. You say to screw the lids on tight. Do I need to “burp” them occasionally? I’m just wondering if there’s any risk of them exploding as they ferment. Thanks!

    • Lindsay January 2, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

      I found they worked just fine leaving them on the counter for a few weeks. I would occasionally open and check the flavor until it reached the desired taste, but that is about all I did. They do not expand at all, so I don’t believe there is any fear of explosion.

  9. Mrs. U February 23, 2008 at 7:47 pm #

    Oh boy!! I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making sauerkraut. Our family (even our 21 month old) LOVES kraut!!!! Guess I will add cabbage to our grocery list for this upcomin week. :)

    Oh… after it’s been sitting out for 3 days, is there need to seal the jars? Or does it self-seal? Also, how long will it keep?

    His,
    Mrs. U (new to fermentation, can you tell?)

  10. Ashley February 22, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    Love the Ergo! We have the organic cotton one and my husband loves wearing our son in the back carry. =D

  11. Autumn February 22, 2008 at 2:12 pm #

    My saurkraut is “sizzling” on the shelf…guess the fermentaion is happening;). Thanks for the post Linds, we shall hold out to taste our creation before we dispair…even though a few others seem to have disliked the NT recipe.

  12. Mrs. Taft February 22, 2008 at 10:07 am #

    Saurkraut=yucky to me, but my husband LOOOOOOVES it, but he only likes “homemade” or high-quality types, so I will have to try this.

  13. Carrie February 21, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    Lindsay-
    I didn’t quite understand from one of your previous posts how you get your fresh produce. Is it a flat fee to buy and have it delivered? Do you order specific things or are you surprised every week?
    Now you’ll have to learn how to stuff your own sausages to eat with your sauerkraut! Hmmmm, that might be a bit more messy ;)

    • Lindsay February 21, 2008 at 11:29 pm #

      Carrie,
      Since I am using a CSA (community supported agriculture), I get whatever the farm has produced for the week, and this particular one delivers it to my door, which is a huge blessing! So no, I do not have a choice, but I do pay a flat fee and the bin is growing as the season progresses and more varieties are coming in. I will send you an e-mail with more details if you are interested. You can visit: http://www.localharvest.org for more info on CSA’s.

  14. Steph Garvey February 21, 2008 at 3:29 pm #

    I’m interested to try this ever since Amy made it herself.

  15. Samara,
    I think that it’s interesting that you also like Wild Fermentation recipe better. I wondered if it was because 1- You fermented it longer and that definitely improved the taste and 2-his method insures that everything stays under water. This is important for a good taste, I think.

    But I do know that other people like NT recipe. It is easier to have it in the jars, I think. You will have to let us know how you like it, Lindsay!

  16. Samara Root February 21, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    Hi Lindsay,

    I have tried the Nourishing Traditions Kimchi recipe that I like a lot, but the NT recipe for sauerkraut (after having tried 3 times or so) is nasty. I tried the Wild Fermentation recipe which I liked a lot better (adding some onions and some apples).
    Good going! Saurkraut is a natural probiotic and excellent for the complexion and for GI-tract health.

    Wish me luck. I’m trying to stay alive thru the first trimester :-) . Forget health food. I’m not even cooking! :-) .

    Which reminds me…of the 9 months of pregnancy and the 9 months you have actually had Karis, which was longer/harder?

    Love ya!

    • Dana February 21, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

      Hi,
      I am not Lindsay, but I will take any stage of babyhood, 2 year oldness or even the 4 teens I have over pregnancy. I do NOT like being pregnant, nor does it like me.

    • Lindsay February 21, 2008 at 11:26 pm #

      Samara,
      Interesting…I wonder as well if maybe you didn’t wait long enough for the sauerkraut to ferment? I thought ours tasted pretty good before even fermenting. We’ll have to wait and see. Thanks for sharing the health benefits! That’s good to know.
      As far as pregnancy…I would have to say it all depends on your attitude! I was blessed with a pretty smooth pregnancy, and even with fatigue and nausea, I tried to keep my focus on the blessing that was growing inside me, and overlook the side effects. I think the key is to enjoy every moment. So I would probably say the first 9 months of Karis’ life have been more challenging (napping challenges, teething, sickness, etc.), but then they are so full of joy as well, as she learns every new thing.