How to Make Sauerkraut

Easy Sauerkraut - RealFoodCarolyn

My Real Food 101 series continues with this easy tutorial on How to Make Sauerkraut!

Lacto-fermented sauerkraut is one of my favorite traditional foods and it is so easy to make at home! My recipe includes only 2 ingredients and can be assembled in just minutes. The hardest part is waiting for the fermenting to do its magic.

What’s the Big Deal About Lacto-Ferments?

Lacto-fermentation of vegetables, such as cabbage, is a time-honored method of food preservation which relies on naturally present beneficial bacteria (lactobacilli) to convert carbs and sugar into lactic acid. According to Sally Fallon Morell in her classic book Nourishing Traditions, traditional cultures typically included a small amount of lacto-fermented foods or beverages with their meals and relied on the helpful enzymes and probiotics to aid digestion.


1 head cabbage, local and organic preferred
2 tablespoons unrefined salt (see notes below)

Sauerkraut slicing cabbage RealFoodCarolynStart with a fresh head of cabbage. Remove the outer leaves and the core, then slice into evenly-sized pieces.

Sauerkraut shredded cabbage RealFoodCarolynContinue to shred, including the larger pieces. These are about 1/2 inch width.

Sauerkraut salting RealFoodCarolynSprinkle 2 tablespoons unrefined salt on the shredded cabbage and massage in with your hands to evenly distribute. Let rest for 30 to 60 minutes. This will allow juices to release from the cabbage.

As for which salt to use, I like Celtic Sea Salt when making sauerkraut but I keep Redmond Real Salt and pink Himalayan salt on hand for other uses.

Sauerkraut pounding RealFoodCarolynPress and pound the cabbage to further release juices. I use this tart pounder given to me by my sweet mom gave me years ago. You can find a variety of pounders here.

Sauerkraut jarred RealFoodCarolynPlace cabbage in sterilized jar(s) and press down with fingers, fist, spoon, or wooden pounder. As you press on the shredded cabbage, more juices will release. Insure the brine comes up above the top of the cabbage but leave at least 1-inch of head space. If your cabbage did not exude enough moisture (perhaps it was not super-fresh), you can add filtered water.

Note: I had extra cabbage and placed it in a small Mason jar to ferment alongside this cute Weck jar.

Sauerkraut weights RealFoodCarolynYou can add glass weights such as these to keep the level of the brine above the cabbage. You could also use one of the outer leaves, folded or cut to fit, as a “topper” just under the weights. It helps to keep the shredded cabbage from floating up in the brine.

Sauerkraut ready to ferment RealFoodCarolynAdd lid and then place in a cool spot out of direct light. Over the first few days, check the level of the brine and add a little filtered water, if needed, or remove extra brine to avoid overflowing.

Allow to ferment for at least 3 days.  I prefer to allow my veggie ferments to sit 21 days for the best flavor and probiotics. You can taste-test your sauerkraut and decided when you are pleased with the flavor.

Check the sauerkraut for any possible mold that may develop. If any develops, you can spoon it off and discard. If the mold returns the next day, I recommend discarding that entire batch, cleaning your jars well, and starting over.

Move the sauerkraut to cold storage and consume within 6 to 12 months. I keep my sauerkraut on the top shelf of the refrigerator.

Looking for more lacto-fermentation tips and recipes? Check out the classic book of traditional foods, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell, or the great introductory book, Real Food Fermentation by Alex Lewin. Other suggestions can be found on my Recommended Reading page.

How to Make Sauerkraut … Step-by-Step! #probiotics #enzymes #TraditionalFood #WestonPrice #Paleo #digestion

Shared at these great REAL FOOD blog carnivals: Real Food Forager, Richly Rooted, The GlutenFree Homemaker, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Coping with Frugality, Natural Family Today, Laura’s GlutenFree Pantry, Food Renegade, The Nourishing Gourmet, Girl Meets Nourishment


DISCLAIMER: I'm a wife and mom who is passionate about real food! When it comes to nutrition and health, everyone should do their own research. PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. This blog only includes links to products and services that I would use myself.

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24 Responses to How to Make Sauerkraut

  1. sabrina March 26, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    Oh thank you for this wonderful post! I’ve been purchasing organic sauerkraut and have been wanting to make my own…very timely. I’ve pinned this! 🙂

    • Real Food Carolyn March 26, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      Thank YOU, Sabrina! Hope you enjoy your sauerkraut. 🙂

  2. Denise March 28, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I understand the benefits in eating sauerkraut and would like to start including it my my family’s diet but I have no idea how. What recipes do you use it in, or do you just eat it as a side dish, the way it is. Please share! 🙂

    • Real Food Carolyn March 28, 2014 at 11:58 am #

      Hi Denise! I just add a little bit to most meals, especially with whatever meat I’m serving. I also place a little bit in soups and stews. And I actually like sauerkraut with scrambled eggs! Start with a very small amount and see how you like it. 🙂

  3. Mary March 31, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    I know this is a recipe post, but I canNOT get over your pictures in this post. The pictures are beatiful and capture the crisp green colors beautifully. Thanks for joining us at Delicious Dish Tuesday, I hope to see another tasty recipe tomorrow 🙂

    • Real Food Carolyn March 31, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks so very much for your kind words, Mary!

  4. Kristin April 1, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    I’ve been so intimidated to make my own sauerkraut. I know, silly :). Truthfully, I didn’t realize it was so easy to make! Thank you for this wonderful tutorial. Can’t wait to give it a try.

    • Real Food Carolyn April 1, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      You can DO it, Kristin! Enjoy!
      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  5. linda spiker April 1, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    I have never made sauerkraut! Thanks for the tutorial, I am much less intimidated now!

    • Real Food Carolyn April 1, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      It’s really easy and so yummy!

  6. Stephanie @GoodGirlGoneGreen April 1, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    Great tutorial! I have been experimenting with making more fermented foods. thanks!

    • Real Food Carolyn April 1, 2014 at 10:39 am #

      Thanks so much, Stephanie! 🙂

  7. Lauren April 1, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    I love making sauerkraut! Next time, I think I’ll leave them out for longer – I usually only let them ferment about 1 week.

    • Real Food Carolyn April 1, 2014 at 10:49 am #

      Yes, I prefer 21 days! But it took me a while to build up to that. When I first started making sauerkraut, I was timid and left it out only 3 days. But I’ve gotten more and more brave!

  8. Anna April 2, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    I loooooove sauerkraut. There is nothing like preparing it at home! Fantastic recipe! I shall try this tomorrow. Thank you.

    • Real Food Carolyn April 2, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Anna! Enjoy your sauerkraut. 🙂

  9. Sandra April 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    These pictures have inspired me! I’m doing this again. I made some last year and it was the BEST I’d every tasted…….the boys in the house loved pounding the cabbage for me!

    Your the best!

    • Real Food Carolyn April 4, 2014 at 8:35 am #

      Yay!! I look forward to hearing about your next batch of sauerkraut, Sandra! 🙂

  10. Sarah January 31, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

    Very excited to try this. Working on consuming more natural probiotics and this is a helpful post. Thank you for making this look simple and not intimidating.

  11. Hailey Wellness blog October 13, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    Awesome post! I have only heard about sauerkraut now and it’s really easy to make thank you! (


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