I have fond memories of working in the kitchen with my grandmother making a huge batch of homemade sauerkraut. She would have me mashing and squishing the cabbage by hand until my little hands were just plum wore out.
But, it was the best time and I love the memory. Sore hands and all!
While I don’t have the huge sauerkraut crock that my grandmother has, I do have plenty of mason jars and they work just as well as a kraut crock.
Traditional Homemade Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is the fermented byproduct of cabbage and a saltwater brine.
The tradition of making sauerkraut dates back thousands of years (some say at least six thousand years*). It’s a simple way to preserve cabbage that is also super beneficial for your body.
It is fermented by a process called Lacto-fermentation* where the Lactobacillus bacteria (it’s present on all plants) is allowed to flourish and convert sugars from the cabbage into a fermented byproduct.
Sauerkraut tends to be a bridge or gateway that people take into the world of fermentation. It’s simple and easy to make and it’s something that people tend to eat more so than something like Lacto-fermented garlic… which, by the way, smells awful when it’s fermenting.
How to Personalize Your Homemade Sauerkraut
Once you’ve mastered the basics of regular fermented sauerkraut you can start experimenting with adding things in the mix.
A common vegetable that’s added with cabbage is sliced or ribboned carrots into the mix. Then if you want to get crazy you can add some red cabbage or even beets to your ferment!
Once you’re rolling you can check out other things that are fermented to expand your fermentation knowledge.
Other things to ferment:
- Sourdough bread
- Milk Keifer
- Beet Kvass
- so much more…
Save Money By Making It Yourself
Making sauerkraut yourself is an easy way to save money. Store-bought sauerkraut can get expensive if you’re buying the live version rather than the canned versions.
Most live sauerkraut is found in the refrigerated areas of the store since the bacteria is alive and well in the mix.
Any sauerkraut found in glass jars or cans sitting on a shelf has been processed with heat to extend the life of the product. This also kills the beneficial bacteria found in the fermentation process of making sauerkraut (ie. the good stuff you want to keep is killed with this process).
So, save yourself some money and just buy (or grow) a head of cabbage to make you some homemade delicious sauerkraut.
- 1 Head Cabbage
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Salt, per pound
- 2 teaspoons Caraway Seeds (optional)
- Peel off the outer layers of the cabbage leaves. The first 2-3 leaves should be fine. And cut out the core from the cabbage.
- Weigh out the cabbage you intend to use for your sauerkraut and then rinse your cabbage to be sure it's clean of any dirt and debris.
- Finely slice the cabbage (or use a food processor) and then transfer the sliced cabbage into a bowl.
- For every pound of cabbage that you're turning into sauerkraut add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt to the cabbage in the large bowl. For example, 3 pounds of cabbage would be 4 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
- Toss the cabbage and salt around and let it sit for approximately 10-15 minutes to allow the cabbage time to release its juices.
- Give the cabbage a good massage and then transfer it to a clean (pre-washed) mason jar.
- Pack the cabbage into the mason jar with a cabbage tamper or wooden spoon. Make sure to get out all of the bubbles and to press the cabbage down so that the juices come to the top.
- Once all the cabbage is in the jar and pressed down top the cabbage with any juices left in the bowl and add the fermentation weight (place a rock in a sanitized Ziploc if you don't have a fermentation weight).
- Secure a coffee filter with a rubber band over the top of the mason jar to keep any debris out of the fermentation.