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Once you learn how to make Sauerkraut, it will be easy to can up a few jars every year.
Since cabbage grows so easily (and big!) here in the Cariboo, we often end up with heads over 10 pounds. What to do with all that cabbage?That’s easy – we make Sauerkraut.
We love having jars of home canned kraut on hand for a quick meal in the winter. Here’s how to make Sauerkraut (and how to can it too) with just 2 ingredients.
We do keep several heads in the Cold Room and they will easily keep down there until past Christmas with no problems.
Just peel off the outer layer and discard it before cutting up the cabbage. Coleslaw is often on our dinner table here in the Fall.
We mix the red and green Cabbages together, grate some Carrot, add a few raisins or cranberries and put dressing all over it. We probably eat Coleslaw at least three times a week.
I also love decorating with my crocks (one even holds our woodstove kindling). Here’s my 3 gallon stone crock alongside the dining room sideboard.
I’ll just borrow this one for a few weeks and start fermenting cabbage.
How to Make Sauerkraut
For this homemade sauerkraut recipe, I need 6 tablespoons of coarse pickling salt for every 10 pounds of cabbage leaf.
If you have a crock and don’t know how much it will hold, the general rule is 5 pounds of food for every 1 gallon of crock capacity.
Preparing Cabbage for Sauerkraut
- Wash the cabbage, taking off the looser outer leaves. Start with a nice tight head of cabbage, then cut the cabbage in half.
- Do it again, so you have four pieces, and cut out the core from each.
- Shred cabbage (use your food processor to finely shred) or slice very thin, weigh it and then put a layer in the crock.
- I just slice our thinly with a good kitchen knife. It doesn’t take long to get several heads of cabbage all ready for the crock.
- As the cabbage is layered, massage and pat it down firmly with your hand to remove as much air as possible.
- On top of EACH layer, sprinkle some of the pickling salt, a couple teaspoons at a time. Don’t start with too much salt, as you’ll want to make sure there’s an even amount between each layer. Alternate Cabbage and the salt until your crock is almost full.
- Once my layers started getting higher, I used the bottom of a coffee cup to firmly pack the Cabbage down. I want as little air in there as possible. You can also use a wooden pestle like this one. REALLY squish that Cabbage down!
Fermenting the Sauerkraut
Once you’ve got your Cabbage and salt layered in the crock, tear some plastic wrap and place it on top, tightly tucking it down the sides if possible.
If you have to, tear more plastic wrap and just jam it around the edge of the crock. Remember, you want zero air coming into contact with the Cabbage! No air at all.
Now take a plastic freezer bag 3/4 full of cold water and set that directly on top of the plastic wrap.
The bag will find any open areas and sit on top of it, hopefully removing ALL air at the top. Put the lid on your crock and leave it alone at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
Check it every few days – there should be no scum or anything resembling mold sitting on the top. If there is, take a spoon and carefully remove it.
Make sure you put fresh plastic wrap on top. After it’s finished the fermenting process, it will be ready for canning.
I’ve put a link below to my post all about how to do the canning of your Sauerkraut. For fermenting, you want a temperature of 68 – 72F or 20 – 22C.
Fermenting Kits for Sauerkraut in Small Batches
Try making some homemade sauerkraut for your family! You can use glass mason jars, if you don’t have a crock. You can use fermenting kits, like these, to make small batch sauerkraut.
To add some extra flavor, try incorporating ingredients like caraway seeds, juniper berries, ginger, or onion.
Don’t use anything metal and never mix fresh cabbage in with cabbage already fermenting. After it’s ready, you will probably want to read about how to water bath can Sauerkraut.
It is easy to do and great to have some jars on your pantry shelf! Just heat, seal, and store in the fridge to extend shelf life (especially once opened).
What is sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is a German dish made from finely shredded raw cabbage, which is fermented by lactic acid bacteria. Like other fermented food it has a distinctly sour flavor, partially from the lactic acid which ferments the sugars in the cabbage leaves.
This unique taste has made it one of Germany’s most iconic dishes.
Is sauerkraut good for you?
Absolutely, sauerkraut is rich in lots of vitamins and minerals. Specifically, it’s a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as calcium and magnesium. Sauerkraut is high in dietary fiber, folate, iron, and potassium.
When uncooked and unpasteurized, sauerkraut is rich in enzymes and because of live lactobactilli and beneficial microbes, it’s a great source of probiotics which can improve digestive health.
How should I eat sauerkraut?
It’s great on its own, especially as a side dish to a hearty main course of meat. Sauerkraut works as a great palette cleanser between bites of a more intensely flavored main dish.
Sauerkraut can also be used as a salsa, great to dip chips or use as a topping on tacos. Use it on salads, sandwiches, or as a topping for your favorite burger or hot dog.
You can add it to eggs or potatoes for breakfast, add it to avocado toast, or make a delicious and healthy rice bowl with a variety of other veggies.
What can I do with sauerkraut juices?
The brine that’s created as a byproduct of the fermenting process has some applications of its own.
This liquid can be taken directly as a gut shot that can aid in digestion, you can toss it into a salad splash over vegetables or meat, or even save it to use for the next batch of sauerkraut if you need more liquid.
You can even use it the same way you might use pickle juice in cocktails or pickle back shots.
Want to learn more about how to grow cabbage?
More Canning Recipes
- Here’s how we make Pickled Asparagus – delicious!
- How I use all our small Beets – I turn them into Pickled Beets.
Want to find out which are The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow?
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Published November 2019, updated June 2022.