Making homemade sauerkraut is EASY and kinda fun! Here’s how to make this tangy, fermented cabbage in a mason jar at home…
Mmm fermented cabbage — doesn’t that sound appetizing? :P There are lots of folks who believe in the magical healing powers of fermented foods. If you’re one of those people, this probably wouldn’t be your first time fermenting something at home. Eric and I don’t really care about the health stuff, but man – I LOVE sauerkraut. So, that’s what brings us here. I like kraut and like making stuff. If it also gives us some health benefits, even better!
Making kraut at home is super easy, but it does require some preparation, lots of cleaning, and some patience. I recommend reading the stuff below at least once before you begin.
If you’re interested in learning about the process of fermenting cabbage, this article is a great resource and helped me work up the courage to try making kraut at home.
Hope you enjoy!
How to Ferment Your Own Sauerkraut
1 head of green cabbage (if you go red, be aware that the color of your kraut will be CrAzY!)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds or celery seed for flavoring (some folks add minced garlic and other flavors as well — do whatever floats your boat!)
1 large mason jar (I went w a gallon sized jug)
1 small baby food jar or glass spice bottle with lid (must fit inside the mason jar)
a couple marbles or rocks (to place inside the small jar for weighing it down)
new/clean cloth for covering the jar + a rubber band
large mixing bowl, knife, cutting board
- First things first, you MUST clean everything. Use more hot water and soap than you feel comfortable using. If there are cooties lurking on your jars, you’re gonna have a bad time. You’ll be using your hands to massage the salt and cabbage so make sure your hands are clean at all times as well. Once everything is clean and dry, you can move on to the fun stuff!
- Pull off one big leaf of cabbage and set aside. Finely chop the rest of the cabbage and place into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle salt over the top (+and other seasonings you’ll be using) and begin using your hands to massage the cabbage. Do this for about 5-10 minutes or until the cabbage begins looking limp and moist (ha!).
- Transfer the cabbage to the large jar and use your fist to tamp it down. Pour any juices that are in the bowl into the jar so it can be with it’s friends. Place the cabbage leaf you set aside before on top of the cabbage in the jar. As the kraut ferments, it tends to float up — this leaf will help keep most of the cabbage pieces submerged.
- Fill your small jar with clean marbles or rocks, seal, and place inside the big jar on top of the cabbage leaf. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down and submerged as it ferments.
- Cover the jar with a clean cloth and rubber band. You don’t want to use a jar lid here since the cabbage needs to breathe while it ferments. The cloth allows air to flow without cooties sneaking through.
- Over the next 24 hours, set a timer on your phone to check on your kraut every 4 hours or so. When the timer goes off, use the small jar to press down the cabbage so that it is all staying submerged in the brine. You’ll notice lots of juice forming, maybe some bubbles, maybe even foam — those are all normal, so don’t be afraid. Keep your cabbage submerged at all times. If after 24 hrs your cabbage hasn’t produced enough brine to be fully covered, dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in 1 cup water and pour over the top.
- Ferment your kraut for 3-10 days in a cool, dry, and low-light area — a cabinet works well. Check it daily to make sure the cabbage is staying submerged. Any foam, bubbles, etc are signs of healthy fermentation. If you notice mold, immediately scoop out that area. The rest of the kraut is perfectly fine.
- Begin taste-testing your kraut after the 4-day mark. As soon as you like the flavor and texture — it’s done! Simply transfer your kraut to smaller jars with sealable lids and store in the refrigerator. Refrigerating stops the fermenting process and the kraut can be stored for months.