The Ultimate Guide: How to Make Sauerkraut at Home

Sauerkraut is a traditional dish from Eastern Europe and Germany that has been around for centuries. Its tangy and crunchy taste makes it the perfect side dish for any meal, and it’s also packed with probiotics that have many health benefits. However, most people think of sauerkraut as something that can only be bought at the store, but did you know that it’s actually quite easy to make at home? In fact, making your own sauerkraut is not only cost-effective, but it also allows you to control the ingredients and customize the taste to your liking. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about making sauerkraut at home so you can enjoy this delicious and healthy dish whenever you want.

Introduction to Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, a traditional German dish made from fermented cabbage, has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its numerous health benefits. This simple and delicious sauerkraut recipe not only tastes great but is also easy to make at home.

The fermentation process involved in making sauerkraut is what gives it its unique tangy flavor and probiotic benefits. During the fermentation process, beneficial bacteria break down the natural sugars in the cabbage and produce lactic acid, which acts as a natural preservative. This process not only enhances the flavor of the cabbage but also allows for the preservation of its nutritional value.

Studies have shown that consuming fermented foods like sauerkraut can help improve gut health by increasing the population of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This, in turn, can lead to improved digestion, better nutrient absorption, and a stronger immune system.

Making your own sauerkraut at home is a cost-effective way to incorporate this nutritious food into your diet. Plus, the process is relatively straightforward and requires only a few ingredients. In the following sections, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to make sauerkraut at home, so you too can experience the many benefits of this fermented food.

What You Need to Make Sauerkraut

To make sauerkraut at home, you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or ingredients. In fact, you only need a few basic supplies to get started.

First and foremost, you will need cabbage. Any variety of cabbage will work for making sauerkraut, but green cabbage is the most traditional and widely used. Make sure to choose firm, dense heads of cabbage that are free from any blemishes or soft spots.

Next, you will need salt. Kosher salt is the most commonly used salt for making sauerkraut, but sea salt or pickling salt can also be used. Avoid using iodized table salt, as it contains anti-caking agents that can interfere with the fermentation process.

You will also need a container to ferment your sauerkraut in. A mason jar is an excellent choice, as it provides an airtight seal and allows you to monitor the fermentation process easily. You can also use other types of fermentation crocks or containers if you prefer.

Finally, you will need a weight to keep your cabbage submerged in the brine during the fermentation process. This ensures that the cabbage stays anaerobic (without air) and helps to prevent mold or other spoilage. A plastic bag filled with water or a small plate can be used as a weight.

In summary, the four essential items you’ll need to make sauerkraut at home are cabbage, salt, a container such as a mason jar, and a weight. With these simple tools, you can easily create delicious, probiotic-rich sauerkraut that is perfect for adding flavor and nutrition to a wide variety of dishes.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Sauerkraut

Shredding the Cabbage

When it comes to making sauerkraut, shredding the cabbage is an essential step in the process. While you can certainly use a regular kitchen knife to cut up your cabbage, investing in a cabbage knife can make the job much easier.

A cabbage knife typically has a curved blade that is specifically designed for slicing through tough cabbage leaves. The unique shape of the blade allows you to easily maneuver around the cabbage and make quick work of the shredding process.

However, if you don’t have a cabbage knife on hand, don’t worry! A regular chef’s knife or santoku knife can also get the job done. Just make sure you’re using a sharp knife to ensure clean cuts and minimize the risk of injury.

No matter what type of knife you use, be sure to use a sturdy cutting board to prevent any slipping or sliding during the shredding process. A thick wooden or plastic cutting board will provide a stable surface and protect your countertops from scratches or damage.

To start shredding your cabbage, remove the outer leaves and cut the head in half. Then, place each half flat-side down on the cutting board and slice into thin strips. Make sure you are cutting the cabbage as thinly as possible, as this will allow for optimal fermentation and flavor development.

By taking the time to shred your cabbage properly, you’ll set yourself up for success when it comes to making delicious homemade sauerkraut. So grab your cabbage knife (or trusty chef’s knife) and cutting board, and let’s get shredding!

Adding Salt and Packing in Mason Jar

Adding Salt and Packing in Mason Jar

When it comes to making sauerkraut, the salt you use is just as important as the cabbage itself. You want to choose a high-quality salt that will not only help to preserve your sauerkraut but also enhance its flavor. That’s why we recommend using kosher salt for this step.

To begin, take your shredded cabbage and add it to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt over the cabbage and mix thoroughly with your hands. The salt helps to draw out the moisture from the cabbage, creating an ideal environment for the fermentation process.

Next, it’s time to pack the cabbage into your mason jar. Be sure to use a wide-mouthed jar so that you can easily fit your hand inside to pack down the cabbage. Using a wooden spoon or your fist, press the cabbage firmly into the jar until it is tightly packed. It’s important to pack the cabbage down tightly to remove any air pockets, which can interfere with the fermentation process.

Once the jar is filled with cabbage, pour any remaining liquid from the mixing bowl over the top of the cabbage. This liquid is essential for the fermentation process and will help to create an anaerobic environment inside the jar.

Finally, it’s time to seal the jar. Place a small piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter over the top of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. Then, place the lid on top of the cheesecloth and screw it on tightly. This creates an airtight seal that allows gases to escape during the fermentation process while preventing oxygen from entering the jar.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your sauerkraut is properly prepared for the fermentation process. With a little patience and care, you’ll be rewarded with delicious, homemade sauerkraut that is full of probiotics and flavor.

Adding a Weight

When making sauerkraut, adding a weight is a crucial step in the fermentation process. This helps to compress the cabbage and ensure that it stays submerged in its own juices, which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. There are a few different options for adding a weight, but two of the most popular methods are using a plastic bag filled with water or a small plate.

To use a plastic bag filled with water, simply fill a gallon-sized zip-top bag with water and seal it tightly. Place the bag on top of the cabbage in your mason jar, making sure that it covers the entire surface area. The weight of the bag will press down on the cabbage, helping to release more liquid and create an anaerobic environment for fermentation.

Another option is to use a small plate as a weight. Find a plate that fits snugly inside your mason jar and place it on top of the cabbage. You may want to wrap the plate in plastic wrap or parchment paper to prevent any contact with air or the cabbage. Then, you can cover the jar with a cloth or cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band.

Regardless of which method you choose, make sure that your weight is clean and sanitized before using it. Also, be sure to handle the cabbage gently when placing the weight on top to avoid bruising or damaging the leaves.

Adding a weight is just one step in the process of making sauerkraut, but it’s an important one for ensuring success. With a little patience and attention to detail, you can create delicious, probiotic-filled sauerkraut right in your own kitchen.

Fermenting Process

Fermenting Process

Fermenting is the key step in making sauerkraut that transforms raw cabbage into tangy, probiotic-filled goodness. This process involves allowing the beneficial bacteria to grow and multiply, breaking down the natural sugars in cabbage and producing lactic acid.

To begin the fermenting process, your jar of packed cabbage should be left at room temperature for several days. The ideal range is between 65-75°F (18-24°C). This will ensure the bacteria can proliferate quickly enough to create the desired fermentation.

It’s important to store your sauerkraut in a dark place during the fermenting process as exposure to light can disrupt the bacterial growth and cause off-flavors. A cupboard or pantry can be a great option for this.

The fermentation time can vary depending on personal preference and the desired level of tanginess. However, a general rule of thumb is to let the sauerkraut ferment for at least one week before tasting it. If it’s not tangy enough, you can continue to ferment it for up to four weeks. Just be sure to check it regularly and burp the jar by opening the lid briefly to release any built-up gases.

It’s worth noting that the temperature can affect the fermentation time. At warmer temperatures, the bacteria will work more quickly, so your sauerkraut may be ready sooner. Conversely, if your home is cooler, it may take longer to reach the desired tanginess.

Overall, the fermenting process is a crucial step in making homemade sauerkraut. By following these tips, you can ensure your sauerkraut is filled with healthy probiotics and has the perfect level of tanginess.

How to Store Sauerkraut

Proper storage is key to ensuring that your homemade sauerkraut stays fresh and flavorful. Here are some tips on how to store sauerkraut:


Refrigeration is the best way to store sauerkraut in the short term. Once your sauerkraut has finished fermenting, transfer it to an airtight container and place it in the fridge. Sauerkraut can last for up to 6 months when stored properly in the refrigerator.

Storing in Jars

Storing sauerkraut in jars is a great option for long-term storage. To do this, transfer your fermented sauerkraut into sterile mason jars. Make sure to leave about an inch of headspace at the top of the jar. Seal the jars tightly and store them in a cool, dark place like your pantry or basement. Properly stored sauerkraut can last for up to a year or more when stored in jars.

Long-Term Storage

If you’re looking for even longer storage options, consider freezing your sauerkraut. Freezing can extend the shelf life of your sauerkraut by several months. To freeze sauerkraut, transfer it to a freezer-safe container and make sure to leave enough space for expansion during freezing. When ready to use, thaw your sauerkraut in the fridge overnight.

In conclusion, proper storage is essential to keep your homemade sauerkraut fresh and delicious. Whether you choose to refrigerate, store in jars, or freeze your sauerkraut, following these tips will help you enjoy your sauerkraut for months to come.


Making homemade sauerkraut is a rewarding and healthy addition to any diet. By fermenting cabbage with salt, you create a probiotic-rich food that can improve digestion and boost your immune system. Not only is it easy and affordable to make at home, but it also has a delicious tangy flavor that can be enjoyed on its own or used in recipes.

The probiotic benefits of sauerkraut come from the natural fermentation process. During this process, beneficial bacteria convert the sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid, creating an environment that inhibits harmful bacteria and promotes the growth of beneficial ones. These good bacteria, known as lactobacilli, can improve gut health, aid in nutrient absorption, and even reduce inflammation.

In addition to its health benefits, homemade sauerkraut is a sustainable and eco-friendly food. By making it at home, you can reduce waste by using up extra produce and cut down on the packaging and transportation required for store-bought versions.

So, if you’re looking to add some homemade sauerkraut to your diet, give it a try! Not only will it provide you with delicious and nutritious meals, but it may also improve your overall health and well-being.
Sauerkraut is a tasty and healthy addition to any meal, and the best part is that it’s easy to make at home with just a few simple ingredients. By following this step-by-step guide, you can create your own homemade sauerkraut and enjoy its probiotic benefits. Remember to use fresh cabbage, pack it tightly in a mason jar with salt, and add a weight to ensure proper fermentation. Once it’s ready, store it in jars for long-term enjoyment. With this simple recipe, making sauerkraut has never been easier or more accessible. So why not give it a try and discover the satisfaction of creating your own delicious, healthy food at home?

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