Best Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
This is the best homemade sauerkraut recipe. Especially for beginners! I’ve developed this recipe after years of trial and error fermenting. Read on to learn about this easy and nutritious method for preserving the cabbage harvests! If you follow my fermentation recipes, they can save you years or months of learning mistakes. You can also find my list of top 5 crazy cheap tools for successful first-time fermenting in the free resource library.
Are you new to fermentation? What is the best technique you’ve learned to ensure success every time?
Cabbage takes about three months to grow. It is a fantastic addition to the four-season garden because it grows well in cooler temperatures and therefore serves as the perfect ingredient for a homemade sauerkraut recipe. With a little frost protection, you can plant cabbage in late February in Zones 6 and 7. You can also plant it in late summer for a November harvest. Our favorite varieties are Early Jersey Wakefield because of its short growth cycle (56 days), Flat Dutch (because it is a nice size and shape for small batch cooking), and Ruby Perfection (because of color, flavor, and it seems more bug resistant than the green varieties). Once harvested, with a little chopping and salt, you can enjoy your cabbage for months to come, once you learn the basics of homemade sauerkraut with this step-by-step guide.
Building the larder~
When we moved to Stony Ridge Farm, one of our early goals was to use the land to build a storage of food allowing us to make it through the winter with minimal reliance on supermarkets. We were familiar with blanching and freezing, hot water bath canning, and dehydration as food preservation methods. Neither Bob nor I had any experience with fermentation.
I am a big fan of the weekly NPR radio program The Splendid Table. One Saturday afternoon, while working in the garden, I was listening and weeding and this guy named Sandor Katz was being interviewed by the show’s host. He wrote The Art of Fermentation and kicked off a national obsession with using fermentation for food preservation, I was hooked.
I did some research and learned that fermentation does not require fancy equipment or expensive ingredients. It is an age-old method of safe, nutritious, and efficient food preservation that helped families survive the off seasons prior to the arrival of refrigeration. As you pull your supplies together, remember – no plastic, aim for organic ingredients. Those are the only rules in my process. The remainder is more art than science.
Best Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe – Cabbage, Salt and Time
In order to get started on your fermentation journey, all you will need is cabbage, salt, and time (It’s magic, really)! A head of cabbage (about 2 pounds), a tablespoon or two of sea salt, a sharp knife, a wide mouth mason jar…gather these ingredients and supplies and follow the directions below to create your first batch of kraut! That’s why this is the BEST homemade sauerkraut recipe.
1 medium cabbage
2 tbs salt
Fermentation Tamper (oprional)
Small plastic baggie or fermentation weight
Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
- After washing and drying the cabbages, remove 3-4 outer leaves of cabbage and set aside.
- Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core.
- Chop cabbage thinly and place in a glass or wooden bowl.
- Add salt at a ratio of 1 tbsp per 1 quart of chopped cabbage (estimate). Start with less salt and add slowly until you have a medium saltiness in taste (like the ocean, if that helps). Be warned, beginners often add too much salt to their first krauts.
- Using tamper begin to pound cabbage and salt mixture until you see moisture appear in the bowl. You are making a brine with the moisture from the cabbage and the salt. If you do not have a tamper, simply use your hands to vigorously stir the mixture. The brine will quickly begin to form. (Use only wooden spoons/tamper or your hands.)
- Place cabbage, salt, and all the brine into your mason jar. Use the tamper to press this mixture firmly into the mason jar, removing all air pockets. You can also use your fist.
- Fold cabbage leaves and place them over the top of the cabbage mixture to form a covering over the entire surface. Use the tamper or your hands to submerge the leaves.
- In order to finish the preparation, fill your plastic baggie about 1/4 – 1/2 full with a brine mixture (1 tbs salt/quart of water). Place this on top of your cabbage leaves. It forms an airtight seal over the cabbage and helps protect from mold growth. Gently place a plastic cap on the mason jar, do not seal tightly but leave loose to allow the ferment to ‘breathe’. Some place a cloth or coffee filter over the top of the jar and secure with a rubber band. The goal is to let the ferment vent without allowing contaminants into the jar.
- Place the jar on a cookie sheet and leave on a shelf out of direct sunlight for 3-5 days. After the 3 days, remove baggie, remove cabbage leaves and set aside. Taste your kraut. If it is as sour as you like, move the jar with the cabbage leaves and water-filled baggie to the refrigerator. Once complete, your homemade sauerkraut will be ready to eat at any time and will be good for months.
- For more information, please visit this link.
Did you know that you can work with me to learn basic fermentation? Click here to learn more!
Mix It Up a Bit
If you are successful with your first batch of sauerkraut and want to mix things up a bit, try these additions:
- Sliced onions, one medium onion per head of cabbage
- Grated carrots, 1-2 carrots per head of cabbage
- Caraway seed, 1/4 teaspoon per head of cabbage
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New to fermenting and don’t know where to start? Use this recipe and visit the resource library to get my list of cheap tools that will help you be a successful fermenter every time!
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