Easy Homemade Sauerkraut {aka Homemade Probiotics}

Fermented foods are one of the best ways to get powerful probiotics into your diet, and this Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe is likely the most frugal and the simplest way to do it. Follow the step-by-step instructions in the post and start your gut healing today!

Did you know that Fermented Foods like Sauerkraut is a great way to get the health benefits of probiotics? You can easily make this Super Easy Sauerkraut at home and have your own homemade probiotics for a fraction of the cost that buying supplements would be. Healthier wallet - healthier you!

Sometimes there are things that I want to do, that I know are good for me, and yet it can seem like such an overwhelming step to actually do it.

I wanted to make sourdough for years, and it was only when I was walked step by step (online) through it that I was able to actually do it, and it was easier than I thought.

Lactofermenting vegetables are like that. If you haven't done it, it can seem overwhelming.

Questions About Fermenting Vegetables

There can be many questions:

  • Is it safe?
  • How do I know if it's gone bad?
  • What should it look like?
  • Smell like?
  • What will taste good?
  • What recipe should I start with?
green cabbage head on scale

It's hard to get started making fermented foods when you have all of these questions, so I'll do my best to address them.

How Long Does Homemade Sauerkraut Last?

Once cabbage has been fermented, the combination of salinity, acidity, and preserving bacteria prevent spoilage. It can keep almost indefinitely, although cooler temperatures are better.

After the initial stage, warm temperatures cause the cabbage to become soft and more sour.

What is the History of Sauerkraut?

Cabbage has been fermented into sauerkraut for at least 2,000 years, brought over to Europe from China. Both the Tatar and Roman soldiers considered it valuable enough bring it when traveling (maybe it was part of their secret?).

Sailors also took it with them to prevent scurvy, a lack of vitamin C.

green cabbage being shredded on wood cutting board with knife for making homemade sauerkraut

And, crazy enough, fermenting the cabbage actually increases the amount of vitamin C and K. Yes, the same amount of sauerkraut contains more vitamin C and K than the same amount of cabbage.

Sauerkraut is also full of probiotics; bacteria that are vital to health. These beneficial bacteria heal and strengthen the health of the gut, which in turn impacts everything from immunity to food allergies to mental health.

There are too many benefits of probiotics to list here, but I've written A Scientific Look at the Benefits of Probiotics, which is full of references to a slew of studies.

Basically, probiotics are absolutely necessary for good health, and fermented foods are the cheapest and freshest way to consume them.

I call this lazy sauerkraut because I let the cabbage sit with salt a while before massaging it and the salt brings out the water on its own.

kids kneading shredded cabbage for homemade sauerkraut

All you need is cabbage and salt--other spices and vegetables are optional.

For salt, make sure there are no anti-caking additives or iodine added. This means that your regular table salt is not the best. Unrefined sea salt is the best, but there are other (cheaper) salts available. I use a rough sea salt from an Asian food store.

As well, make sure all vegetable matter is under liquid, or it will mold.

It is useful to have a fermentation weight to ensure the cabbage stays down.

You can lay a cabbage leaf over top and weigh it down with a small jar filled with water, a clean rock, or purchase pottery weights which are basically disks with a hole.

There is some debate over whether ferments should be in special airlock jars. My own opinion is that if you are just starting out, do not let that be a deterrent to beginning to ferment vegetables; the benefits of fermented veggies far outweigh the harm of delaying making them, or not getting around to it at all.

Start out with mason jars, and as you delve into the world of fermenting you can do more research.

sauerkraut in a bowl with text overlay

If you are looking for more super easy ways to ferment vegetables, a delicious one is cauliflower, one of our favourites. Just break up florets, pour over salt water, and wait. Another super simple one is fermented red onions, which can be done just with onions and salt.

I don't like raw onions, but I am continually impressed with fermented ones. They are so versatile, and I can throw them in a salad, spread, or sandwich to add a dash of probiotic goodness. Mixed with other foods, you can't taste any sourness - in fact, the onions turn almost sweet.

If you are afraid you won't like the sourness of sauerkraut, try a fermented fruit recipe like spiced apple chutney. It's so good, I've eaten a whole quart on my own at one sitting. In the name of health, of course.

Kimchi, originally from Korea, is another great ferment of napa cabbage.

White kimchi is a version that doesn't have any hot pepper in it, and I can barely keep up with our family's consumption. The red onions are also a good choice for a non-sour ferment.

What You Will Need

Knife, Mandoline Slicer, or Food Processor with Slicing Attachment
Salt
Cabbage
Large Bowl or Sauerkraut Crock and/or Large Jar
Fermentation Weights (optional but very helpful)
Bay Leaves (optional)
Caraway Seeds (optional)

Special Diet Notes

THM: This is a fuel pull for those on the Trim Healthy Mama plan.

Keto / Low Carb: Homemade Sauerkraut is naturally low-carb and works for the keto diet as well.

Aerobic or Anaerobic Fermentation

Note that there are several schools of thought about fermenting.

Some say that easy is fine - as in this post. Others say that anaerobic fermentation is the way to go.

The method outlined in this post is super easy wild fermentation.

If you would prefer to go the anaerobic way, this fermentation kit is a great option. Here is another great option.

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut

Probiotics are Great for Digestive Health, but they can be pricey. Here is an Easy Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe so you can make your own probiotics at home!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dressings, Seasonings, etc.
Cuisine: AIP, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Keto, Low-Carb, Paleo, THM:S, Vegan, whole30
Keyword: homemade sauerkraut

Equipment

Ingredients

  • cabbage
  • salt 20 grams for every kilogram of cabbage / 9 grams (about 1/3 ounce / {2 teaspoon}) for every pound.
  • bay leaves (optional)
  • caraway seeds (optional)

Instructions

  • Slice cabbage thinly. This can be done with a knife, a mandolin slicer, or the slicing attachment on a food processor.
  • Add salt and mix.
  • Toss cabbage and salt with your hands so it is well distributed. Let rest about one hour.
  • Knead/massage the cabbage with your hands to encourage more juice to come out.
  • Add optional bay leaves (about 1 per lb) and/or caraway seeds (about 1 teaspoon per pound).
  • Pack tightly into a jar. I usually grab a handful, drop it into the jar, and then use my fist to push it down well. You can also use a pounder, or something like a thick stick.
  • Once all the cabbage is in, make sure there is enough liquid (from kneading) to cover the cabbage by about an inch. Weigh the cabbage down, as discussed above.
  • Put a lid on the jar. Be aware that you will need to occasionally let the C02 out that will accumulate.
  • Set it out of direct sunlight and let sit for at least 4-6 weeks. 4 weeks is the minimum required for the full cycle of probiotics to develop. Exact fermenting times will depend on ambient temperature and your tastes. The sauerkraut pictured has sat for a month, and it could use a little more time.
  • Put in the fridge to slow fermentation. Enjoy probiotic goodness!

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

If you are interested in learning more from someone whom I consider to be a real fermentation expert, Lisa's Counter Culture is the way to go.

Here is where you can get a physical copy of her fabulous book:

Lisa's Counter Culture: Pickles and Other Well-Bred Foods

Lisa's Counter Culture: Pickles and Other Well-Bred Foods

Have you ever made sauerkraut?
Got any tips to share?

Naomi Huzovicova - Writer at Whole New Mom

Naomi is originally from Canada but is now a wife and mom in Slovakia. She tries to live each day as a follower of Christ in the chaos of caring for children. Using real food and creating an environmentally friendly surrounding for her family is a priority. She dreams of a little farm while living in an apartment, enjoys handmade creations, and still doesn’t like brussels sprouts. Naomi shares her food creations and photos of Slovakia at Almost Bananas. She looks forward to connecting with you on Pinterest, and Facebook.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




 

58 Comments

  1. Hey thanks for the recipe, looking forward to trying it. I wanted to try your kimchi recipe also but the link doesn’t work... can you fix it? Or recommend another good beginner kimchi recipe?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi there. So sorry for the late reply. You can click through - the site is throwing off that warning b/c it hasn't been updated to https which is a secure thing that bloggers and sites are supposed to do. I am checking to see if I should remove the links so they don't hurt my site - so click while you can :).

  2. 5 stars
    I didn't understand what weights you used in a mason jar! And also, is it safe to mix in metal containers?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi there - there is a link in the post to some weights and I will get another one in as well - let me know if you don't see it - thanks!

  3. I make mine with no salt, putting the cabbage through the Omega Nutrition Center juicer using the blank plate. Slow Star juicer has a blank plate too. It's ready in a few days.