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Homemade Sauerkraut

It doesn’t get much easier than this two ingredient, versatile Sauerkraut recipe. So much better than store bought, the homemade taste can’t be beat!

THE BEST FERMENTED DIY SAUERKRAUT

There’s something so wonderful about some Homemade Sauerkraut. This is my Grandma’s recipe and everyone always loved her sauerkraut. It is actually so simple to make but the taste can’t even be compared to the store bought stuff. You only need two ingredients (you can also add a little bit of caraway seeds too), a jar and some time to let it ferment. Plus, what I love about this recipe is it doesn’t make a ton like so many recipes do. This recipe makes (2) 32 ounce jars and you only need 2 1/2 pounds of cabbage which is great if you are not wanting to can it and just want to keep some in your fridge.

A bowl of Fermented homemade sauerkraut with kielbasa.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What’s the flavor and consistency of this sauerkraut?

This homemade version is a little less tart than some store-bought sauerkraut. I think this is why a lot of people will eat the homemade stuff over the store bought. It’s not as sour tasting. The cabbage stays a little bit crunchy.

Can I add caraway seeds to this?

Sure, this is the most basic recipe for Homemade Sauerkraut. It’s basic so you can have something simple to start with and you can add your favorite seasonings to your liking. I’d suggest trying some caraway seeds, but only add about a teaspoon.

Where’s the vinegar? Don’t you need it for Homemade Sauerkraut?

This salt brine method is the traditional way of making fermented sauerkraut. The cabbage releases its own natural liquids. Some folks think vinegar is added for fermented sauerkraut but it isn’t. It just tastes that way when it is ready. However, it is used when making the quick version of sauerkraut to give it that similar taste.

What jars and weights did you use?

Any jars and weights will work, but these are the jars (paid affiliate link) and weights (paid affiliate link) that I used (see next question).

What if I don’t have fermentation weights?

If you don’t have fermentation weights, you can try any of these ideas: a ziploc bag filled with water, pie weights in a ziploc bag, a mini jelly jars filled with water, etc. You just need something to help keep it in the liquid in the jar.

How do I care for my Homemade Sauerkraut while it ferments?

For storing the cabbage during fermentation, you should really keep it in a dark space and keep an eye on it day to day. You need to “burp” it so any pressure in the jar can be released as fermentation causes gasses to form.

What is an airlock?

It is a device specifically devised for fermentation. It is attached to the top of the mason jar which allows built up gasses to move out of the jar but do not let any back in. By not allowing any air back in, you aren’t allowing any contamination of the sauerkraut by molds and other microorganisms is prevented. Here is an airlock (with jars) on Amazon so you can see what it looks like (paid affiliate link). You do not need an airlock though and you can just make sure you “burp” it regularly. You don’t need to fully remove the lid. Just open it enough to release any gasses which you should hear as it is released.

How do you store Homemade Sauerkraut and how long is it good for?

You can leave it at room temperature for about a month. Stored in the fridge, it will last about 6 months. It is not recommended to freeze sauerkraut as it can change the texture when defrosted and it can kill the probiotic nutrients.

Can this sauerkraut be canned (preserved)?

Yes, after it has fermented. It will need to be heated in a pot to about 200F degrees (not boiling). Then you can place it into the sterilized mason jars and lids. Then proceed with the canning process (by water bath or pressure canning).

Can I double or triple this recipe?

Absolutely! This is a very easy recipe to double or even triple!

A fork holding some homemade sauerkraut over a jar.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • shredded cabbage – you could use pre-shredded cabbage but I really recommend just shredding it yourself for best taste.
  • fine sea salt – I have found this salt works best (in terms of taste) after making this with different kinds of salt. You could use kosher or table salt though.
A head of cabbage and fine sea salt.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE SAUERKRAUT

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, reserving two leaves. Remove the core. It’s easiest to remove the core if you just slam down the core onto a hard surface (like your kitchen counter) and it is then easy to just pull it out by hand. Or you can cut it out. Whatever you find easiest. Then shred the cabbage (I just do this with a knife but you can use a food processor). Add the shredded cabbage to a large bowl. Add the salt to the bowl and toss to combine.

collage of two photos: shredded cabbage in a large bowl; sprinkling salt over shredded cabbage.

Massage the cabbage, squeezing it with your (clean or gloved) hands for 5 minutes. Allow the cabbage to rest for 15 minutes. Repeat the process. Keep doing this until the cabbage has enough liquid almost to cover it in the bowl; this took me about 1 hour (including the resting time in between.)

collage of two photos: a hand squeezing the shredded cabbage; cabbage releasing moisture/liquid into the bowl.

Add the cabbage to the jars you are going to ferment with and pack it down with a spoon. Add the liquid on top. Cut the reserved leaves so they fully cover the top of the shredded cabbage, and place them in the jars, pressing them down so they are submerged in the liquid. Note: I used (2) 32 ounce jars. You can use smaller jars if you prefer.

collage of two photos: a spoon pushing down the cabbage in the mason jar; a cabbage leaf pressing down onto the shredded cabbage.

Add a fermenting weight on top and add the lid. You can also use an airlock if you have it. See my FAQ’s above for different things you can use to add weight to the top. Place in a dark, dry place for 2 weeks. If not using an airlock, you will need to “burp” the jar once a day, opening it and placing the lid back on. Taste the sauerkraut after 2 weeks; if you feel it needs longer, continue leaving it in the dark place. If you like how it tastes, place it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation.

collage of two photos: lid placed onto shredded cabbage; mason jar showing cabbage after it has fully fermented.

It is now ready to eat as-is or add to recipes.

A fork holding a bite of a simple Sauerkraut recipe above the jar.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES? 

Close up looking at some homemade sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut Recipe

Making your own sauerkraut is really easy with this 2 ingredient sauerkraut recipe.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Fermentation: 14 days
Total Time: 14 days 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds shredded cabbage (about 2 heads of cabbage – depending on how large they are)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt

Instructions

  • Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, reserving two leaves. Remove the core and shred the cabbage.
    Shredded cabbage in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the shredded cabbage to a LARGE bowl. Add the salt to the bowl and toss to combine.
    Sea salt being added to cabbage in a mixing bowl.
  • Massage the cabbage, squeezing it with your (clean or gloved) hands for 5 minutes. This is going to start releasing the cabbage's natural moisture. NOTE: I will be calling this the 'liquid" for the rest of the recipe.
    A hand massaging shredded cabbage.
  • Allow the cabbage to rest for 15 minutes. Repeat the process.
    Massaged shredded cabbage in a bowl.
  • Keep doing this until the cabbage has enough liquid almost to cover it in the bowl; this took me about 1 hour (including the resting time in between). If you feel like enough liquid hasn't been created, add just a bit more salt and continue to squeeze it for a little while longer.
  • Add the cabbage to the jars you are going to ferment with and pack it down with a spoon. Add the liquid on top.
    Cabbage in a jar with a wooden spoon pressing it down.
  • Cut the reserved leaves so they fully cover the top of the shredded cabbage, and place them in the jars, pressing them down so they are submerged in the liquid.
    Cabbage leaves on top of shredded cabbage in a jar.
  • Add a fermenting weight on top and add the lid. Use an airlock if you have it.
  • Place in a dark, dry place for 2 weeks. If not using an airlock, you will need to “burp” the jar once a day, opening it and placing the lid back on.
    A closed jar of shredded cabbage and salt.
  • Taste the sauerkraut after 2 weeks; if you feel it needs longer, continue leaving it in the dark place. If you like how it tastes, place it in the fridge to slow down the fermentation.
    A jar of Sauerkraut fermenting
  • It is now ready to eat as-is or add to recipes.
    A bowl of Fermented homemade sauerkraut with kielbasa.

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
  • This recipe makes enough for (2) 32 ounce jars. I am estimating this to be about 12 servings but it can be more or less depending on how it is used. See above FAQ’s with more details on the kinds of jars and weights used and alternatives.
  • It’s easiest to remove the core of a cabbage if you just slam down the core side onto a hard surface (like your kitchen counter) and then you can simply pull it out by hand. Or you can cut it out. Whatever you find easiest.
  • I shred the cabbage with a knife. That is what is easiest and fastest for me but use what works best for you. You can use a food processor or a mandolin. 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 24kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 889mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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