Video/Recipe: Homemade Sauerkraut

January 20, 2012 · 29 comments

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This is a basic staple in any real food home. Fermented cabbage — sauerkraut — is a traditional food eaten all over the world. It is readily available in grocery stores, but unfortunately, most is no longer made the traditional way. Commonly, store bought sauerkraut is pickled in vinegar and sugar and may also have preservatives. While there are some companies that make it the traditional way, they still have to heat the product if it is in a jar. That kills the beneficial bacteria. The whole point of fermented food is that it is alive! We should be eating living foods. You just need to get over the fear of not doing it right. It’s very hard to make a mistake with this recipe!

Cabbage is embedded with bacteria so you do not really need to use starter. If you do not use a starter culture, you need to use salt in order to preserve the cabbage until the bacteria take over. Either way works fine. I just started to use a culture starter and I actually like the taste of the cabbage better with minimal salt. You can add other chopped or grated vegetables or herbs for different flavors and interest. This is a simple basic recipe but really anything goes with fermented vegetables!

As with any new venture in cultured foods, start with very small portions and gradually increase the portion size and frequency. You don’t want to overwhelm your digestive system with too much good bacteria all at once. Traditionally, cultured foods were used as condiments — small portions to accompany a meal.

It’s my goal to eat a small portion of a cultured food at each meal, as this provides enzymes as well as beneficial bacteria. I do like the sauerkraut sprinkled on my salad!

Homemade Sauerkraut

Ingredients

Equipment

Instructions

  1. Use the grate attachment for the food processor and process the cabbage and carrots
  2. Take handfuls of the cabbage and stuff it into the jar pressing down firmly
  3. Sprinkle a little salt on each layer
  4. Fill the jar in this way
  5. If you are using starter culture, in a separate cup mix the culture starter in 1/4 cup of water
  6. Pour this into the jar, mix and press down
  7. Make sure that all the cabbage is covered with water
  8. Leave at least one inch from the top of the jar for expansion
  9. Cover the jar
  10. If you are using the starter it takes 7 days on the counter to ferment (although you could keep it out longer)
  11. If you are using just salt it takes at least 14 days to ferment but again you may keep it out longer
  12. Once finished keep in the refrigerator where it will keep for a very long time

Variations

  • Add garlic, apple chunks, herbs, etc. for different flavors

Tips

  • Sometimes the cabbage floats to the top of the jar. Check the jar each day and make sure it is submerged under the water. Push it under if it is not.
  • If you see mold growing on the top of the sauerkraut, fear not. It is not ruined. Just scrape off the top layer, add water and push the cabbage down into the water again.
  • With any fermented food, if it smells bad, discard. It should not smell bad.
  • Sometimes foods ferment too quickly and get moldy or bad. This can happen to anyone. With experience you will become a pro!

Where to buy Starter Culture

This post is shared at: Sugar-Free Sunday, My Meatless Monday, Monday Mania, Melt in Mouth Monday, Barnyard Hop, Real Food 101, Meatless Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday Tidbits, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Made From Scratch Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday 33, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Sustainable Ways, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Healthy 2Day, Real Food Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday. Mommy Club, These Chicks Cooked, Hearth & Soul Hop, Creative Juice Thursday, Thrieving on Thursday, Full Plate Thuraday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fresh Bites Friday, Foodie Friday, Fight Back Friday, Friday Food, Make Ahead Monday

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bonnie January 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Our family and friends gather here in the cool Pacific N.W. at the end of October and put up 1,000 pounds of cabbage using salt (much less than the recipe books). We let it work in an unheated garage for 2-3 months. Our mild sauerkraut is the sweetest that most people have eaten. Sometimes it takes a little longer to get to the right flavor. The real secret seems to be in the tamping of the cabbage. We work the cabbage until it has made juice enough to cover the barrels of product. The salt is added gradually with every few inches of cabbage. This project takes about 4 hours including lunch and visiting.

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2 Jill January 21, 2012 at 7:40 am

Hi Bonnie,
Thanks for sharing! I’m jealous! Sounds like a great party! I agree, I think the longer it ferments the sweeter it is.

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3 Meagan January 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

Jill this is a GREAT resource. Lots of people ask me how to make real sauerkraut and here you’ve put all the information into one post. THANKS :) You have been tweeted.

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4 France @ Beyond The Peel January 23, 2012 at 12:00 am

I love your new series Jill. I grew up around sauerkraut. Living in Saskatchewan growing up meant living around a lot of Ukrainian families. I did not know that I didn’t need a starter but I’m with you about the “less salt” part. I like mine on the less salty side!

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5 Jill January 23, 2012 at 5:28 am

Hi France,
Actually I sometimes crave salt, but I like how the sauerkraut comes out sweeter with the cultures starter. It must be due to the strains that are in it. The starter can also be used for many other vegetables.

Reply

6 angie January 23, 2012 at 11:33 pm

think I may try this sounds really good come see what I shared at http://shopannies.blogspot.com/2012/01/layered-peppermint-cheesecake.html

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7 simply heidi January 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I’ve only made sauerkraut once, and it was good, but the addition of carrots in your looks like it would make something really special! Thanks.

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8 Alea Milham January 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Great post! I might have been missing the links, but I think you have forgot to share a link to the Hearth and Soul Hop on some of the posts you linked this week. Could you please check and add a link to one of the hosts. Thanks!

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9 The Southern Product Queen January 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

This looks real good! I’m having a linky party as well, and would love for you to join it! Here is the link http://www.thesouthernproductqueen.com/one-stop-s… Thanks for sharing!

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10 Rebekah January 27, 2012 at 7:16 am

I didn’t realize it might be so easy! Cabbage is super super cheap right now– like 29 cents a pound– so I think I will give this a whirl. :)

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11 Becky January 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I can already smell it! please link to foodie friday going on now: Not Your Ordinary Recipes

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12 Miz Helen January 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Hi Jill,
I have some homemade Sauerkraut processing right now, so far it looks pretty good. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you have a wonderful week end and come back soon!
Miz Helen

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13 Just Winging It January 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Thanks for sharing this, I would love it if you shared this here:

http://juliejewels1.blogspot.com/2012/01/show-your-stuff-8.html

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14 Sarah January 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I bought some extra cabbage at our fruit stand this week, I’m hoping to try out some sauerkraut this week! I hope it turns out better than the cucumbers I tried a few weeks ago…

Anyways, I’m working on stocking my freezer for the upcoming birth of my second child. I would love for you to come share this recipe at my Make-ahead Monday Link-up over at Raising Isabella!

http://naturalparentingunnaturalworld.blogspot.com/2012/01/make-ahead-monday-5.html

Hope to see you there!~
Sarah

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15 Kim February 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Question – does the lid go on tight or loose fitting as in kefir making?

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16 Jill February 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Hi Kim,
I put the lid on tightly.

Reply

17 Nurit March 4, 2012 at 4:22 am

Hello Jill. Thanks for the information.
Question – do I have to sterilize the jar before putting the cabbage in?

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18 Jill March 4, 2012 at 7:07 am

Hi Nurit,
I don’t sterilize the jar but I make sure it is clean.

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