Video: Making Sauerkraut

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 3, 2010
Sauerkraut won the blog poll, so by popular demand, this video covers how to make this probiotic filled, nutrient dense traditional food!    The first video covers a brief history of sauerkraut and what you need on hand to make it.    The second video covers how to make it yourself quickly and easily in your kitchen.

The winner of the quart of cabbage I make in the video will be announced on the blog on Monday, June 7, 2010.    Make sure to enter the Giveaway for this Real Food so you have a chance to win this for yourself!  

The sauerkraut recipe I used is straight from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook:

1 organic, medium green cabbage
1 TBL sea salt 
1 TBL caraway seeds
4 TBL liquid whey

Core and chop cabbage.   Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.    Pound the juices out of the cabbage thoroughly with a kitchen pounder of some kind (takes about 10 minutes).    Tightly pack the cabbage into a one quart mason jar leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top.   Tightly seal with the lid.   Leave on the counter for 3 days and then refrigerate.   The flavor improves over time and the sauerkraut will last many months in your refrigerator or cool cellar.





 


Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


 

Comments (71)

  1. I will give this a try soon. I've never liked saeurkraut but I'm wondering if it was just the industrial version I didn't like. Never had real home made. Thank you for the video and the history – love it!

    Questions: what all do you do with the sauerkraut? Can you give some serving suggestions? Also, once you move it to the fridge how soon can you eat it?

    I made kim chi this past weekend. I have a Korean friend who encouraged me (and gave me a bunch of ingredients!). Mine isn't as good as hers (of course) but it was fun to make. I'll try to post a blog about it soon if you are interested. My blog is http://www.kitchenkungfu.wordpress.com

    Reply
  2. It's funny, many people are afraid to try fermented foods, but when I was about 16 my sister and I found a recipe for sauerkraut very similar to this in one of my mom's cookbooks and we decided to give it a try. We could not believe how good it was! Definitely 100 times better than the store bought version! My sister won't even touch store bought sauerkraut anymore because she says it has a "taste" (probably the vinegar). (My mom, on the other hand, has never been a fan of sauerkraut and she wasn't convinced even with the homemade version:) Oh well…) So if any of you out there are afraid to try fermented foods, don't be! Seriously, the bacteria basically does all the work for you. And I've been told that you don't have to worry about poisoning your family either. If you do have a batch that goes "bad" – which is really hard to do – you will DEFINITELY know!

    P.S. I live in Canada and I made sauerkraut a few months ago (when there was still snow on the ground). I found that I had to leave it on the counter for about 2 weeks before it looked right, but I also have a very cold house and we have a very dry climate here. Temperature, and probably humidity too, have a big impact on how fast it ferments, so go by looks. If it still looks like cabbage then it's not ready.

    Reply
  3. Sarah – This is off the subject of this post (though I'm excited to use the liquid whey sitting in the fridge). I was wondering, where do you buy nuts? Do you order them and buy them in bulk? They are quite expensive just getting a bag of them at the grocery store!

    Also, have you used stevia in homemade ice cream? I'd like to give it a try but I thought I'd ask you first. Thanks!

    Reply
  4. I really appreciate all the effort you put into your videos, they extremely easy to follow and very educational. I came across Nourishing traditions about 12 months ago and am trying to implement many of the ways real food is prepared. It has been difficult as I am not what you would call very good in the kitchen( my husband is very good), but watching your videos and reading your blogs has given me encouragement and made it easier to attempt things that I thought were too hard or complicated.
    Thank you so much. Penny

    Reply
  5. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 4, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Hi Ali, I buy most of my nuts at the healthfood store. I buy pecans and almonds in bulk from a buying club when they are in season. I haven't used stevia for ice cream – if you try it, please comment again with the results of how you liked it!

    Reply
  6. I am new to traditional cooking, also, but I have bought raw nuts from bulkfoods.com They are relatively cheap compared to smaller sizes at the store. They have $5 shipping for large orders, also. Hope this helps!

    Reply
  7. Eleanor@ Make Friends With Food June 4, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I've made the Nourishing Traditions sauerkraut a bunch of times, and it always turns out delicious, though slightly different in flavor every time. Not sure why :)

    I haven't been able to find organic powdered whey locally, so I just drain some yogurt and use the liquid. What kind do you use?

    Reply
  8. Sarah, I think I missed out on how long until you eat the sauerkraut! I know you said the flavor improves, but do you have to wait for months while it is in your refrigerator?

    Reply
  9. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 4, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Kim, you can start eating right away after it is fermented on the counter for 3 days. The flavor just improves over time – peaking at 6 months but you can surely eat it right away after it is done fermenting!

    Reply
  10. Hurray for your kimchi addiction, we have made that when my Korean mother-in-law visits. So many variations of kimchi. We keep our 10+ jars in a wine fridge (less wine since parenthood). Thanks for the video, my first attempt at sauerkraut did not go well, I will try it again now.

    Reply
  11. Sarah, I love your videos. Learning by watching has always been best for me. Seeing you make these dishes really makes me understand what to do!
    Question: After the initial fermentation at 72 degrees, does the longer fermentation at 40 degrees also produce more enzymes for digestion, in addition to enhancing the flavor?
    Regarding another person's question about stevia, I have found I can use stevia in just about anything. My latest favorite is whole-fat yogurt with fruit puree and stevia to taste. So, I'm sure ice cream would work also.
    For yogurt, I like about 1/4 tsp. stevia to 2 Cups of yogurt, plus about 2 Tbsp. of unsweetened fruit puree or 1/4 Cup of fresh berries. For ice cream made with sweet cream, perhaps less stevia would be desired, but maybe not.
    The males in my family do not like the stevia taste, but they eat it happily if I use half honey or maple syrup and half stevia, instead of all stevia.
    Speaking of stevia, I would like to see a video about how to make homemade stevia extract and stevia powder. I've heard it is better to use the still-green stevia, which is less processed, rather than the white stevia powder or clear stevia extract.

    Reply
  12. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 5, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Hi Suzanne, thank you for the kind words! I'm so glad you are finding the videos helpful! Yes, the longer the sauerkraut ferments, the more enzymes etc are produced. It keeps fermenting even after refrigeration; the cold just slows it way down.

    Reply
  13. This is great, thanks! Videos are so much easier for me to follow :)

    a few questions though, what if the temp gets a bit warmer than 74/75…I'm in FL as well and it's quite humid right now, nothing but rain lately, and my house is hard to keep cool some days, sometimes with the air running all day it still can get to 78/80, would that affect the fermentation? Also since hurricane season is upon us, is it ok if you lose power and the kraut warms up, can you still use it? or is it dead once it warms up after refrigeration?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  14. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 5, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    If it's a bit warmer in your home, then you might want to leave it for only 2 or 2 1/2 days on the counter and then refrigerate. Yes, the kraut is fine if the house gets really warm for a few days. I like to remember Captain Cook and the amazing variation in temperature on his ship yet the sauerkraut was just fine! The temperature affects the flavor more than anything else.

    Reply
  15. I love seeing the procedure. I found that I cut mine too fine and I didn't pack near as tight in the jar. Would that be the reason that mine was terribly salty? I love salt but it was way too much for even me. I am guessing maybe it was the packing? That it needs to be tight for the bacteria to work properly? Would love to have this answer.
    Thanks

    Reply
  16. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Not sure why it would be so salty. Just cut down next time you make it and make sure to pack it down tight. Mine was fine and not too salty at all, but then everyone's taste for salt is different.

    Reply
  17. You didn't mention needing to make sure the cabbage is covered with liquid and I noticed that when you finished placing the cabbage into the jar that there was no liquid in the bowl to pour in. So is it necessary to cover the cabbage with liquid and if so, how do you keep your ferments from floating to the top and above the liquid level? Some say it matters and some say not so much and I'm a little confused about that. I have seen gadgets for sale designed for the purpose of weighing the food down in the jar. But you didn't address this issue so maybe it isn't something to concern us.?

    Reply
  18. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist June 11, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Liquid doesn't need to cover the cabbage like with the mango chutney recipe. Just press it down in the mason jar nice and tight like I show in the video. You don't need a gadget to weigh the food down in the jar. I've never had a problem with a bit of food floating on the top like with the mango chutney.

    Reply
    • It seems to me, that everytime I see someone weighing it down and covering with brine is because they are not putting a lid on (like using a crock). This would leave it exposed to more air. Is the reason you don’t need to cover the cabbage with brine is because you are putting a lid on the jar? Thus, limiting the amount of air getting to the cabbage?

      Reply
  19. Hi Sarah,

    I tried this out the other day. I thought I left enough space at the top of the jar, but apparently not. After three days the pressure expanded the lid and broke the seal. Ok, now what? Is it ok? What should I do?

    Reply
  20. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist July 13, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Hi Dale, the saurkraut should still be fine even if the lid blew off. Just put the lid back on and refrigerate now that you've fermented for 3 days.

    Reply
    • My lid blew off while removing it and so Thankful it didn’t hit me in the face. But glad to know it is still good to eat.

      Reply
  21. Hello Sarah, this was my 1st attempt at making sauerkraut and I can't believe how easy it was! Thanks so much for your video, I wouldn't have gotten the confidence to do it, had you not given the visual instruction. I do have a couple of questions to make sure I did it correctly. After pounding mine for 10 mins, it generated a lot more liquid than yours. So, when I put it in the mason jar, I had about an inch and a half of liquid at the top (and it formed little bubbles). Does this mean that it won't work? The liquid also made my cabbage 'float' a little. I fit all of the cabbage in 1 jar though. Any advice is appreciated.

    Thanks so much!
    Ashley

    Reply
  22. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist August 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Hi Ashley, what you have described is fine. Just be sure to leave at least 1 inch at the top for air.

    Reply
  23. Sarah, I am hypothyroid and from what I understand am not supposed to eat raw cruciferous veggies (they are goitregens.) I'm hoping that fermented cabbage is okay though – do you know?

    Reply
  24. Hi Sarah! Thanks for the video! Very helpful. I'm about to start the GAPS intro diet and I was just curious because her recipe is quite different from the NT version. She doesn't use any liquid whey or salt (which is strange), and she weighs hers down in the bowl and leaves a slight gap for the fermentation juices to escape, and hers ferments a bit longer than yours. Do you think hers ferments longer because she doesn't use the liquid whey? I'm planning on making my first batch today with cabbage I'm going to get at the farmers market, but was just curious if you or anyone else has tried the GAPS method and how different it is. Thanks!

    Reply
  25. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist August 28, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Hi Kelsey, you can make the saurkraut with salt only and no whey if you like. Just double the salt. I've never tried the GAPS method so can't be of any help there.

    Reply
  26. I am reading Eat Fat, Lose Fat. It says that you can make Sauerkraut without the whey and double the salt. I noticed you also say this, I was wondering if I make it without the whey will it still have the probiotic benefits? Is it just as healthy?

    Also, thank you so much for the FREE cooking videos!! I have learned so much from you and I really appreciate them.

    Reply
  27. So I have another question! While the kraut was fermenting, the liquid rose up to the top of the jar, which I was a little concerned about but it never exploded, so it was ok. But then when I put it into the fridge after fermenting, all the liquid kind of disappeared. Is that ok? Also, one of the jars got a little brown on the top. Do I just scrape that off and eat the rest, or is that normal? Thanks!

    Reply
  28. Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist October 13, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Hi Kelsey, when you refridgerate the sauerkraut, it slows the fermentation way down, so any bubbling/rising liquid will settle down. Yes, the brown is ok, just scrape it off and the rest is fine.

    Reply
    • Sarah,

      The same thing happened to me. So you’re saying that I just discard the brown sauerkraut at the top of the jar and discard it, and the rest of the sauerkraut is safe to eat? Is the brown sauerkraut dangerous?

      Reply
  29. What should it look like when it is finished. I live in Canada and it is – 30 C outside, but inside is a warm 21 C, it has been sitting for 2 days so far.

    Reply
  30. Where do you find a pounder like the one you used in your video? All I can find is morter and pestle sized. I used a meat tenderizer for my current batch, but I think one like you had would be a lot easier to use.

    Reply
  31. Just wanted to leave comment – I just made a whole bucket of sauerkraut. I put mine in the freezer to store and like it much better than refrigerated. When you freeze it it is softer, more like canned. I don’t like crunchy sauerkraut ;-) I may just be weird that way. I also make sure mine is very fermented before freezing it.

    I just processed some that I left (due to life happening and not being able to package it) for 3 months in a bucket and it was just really good. It was in a cool location (60′s probably) so it didn’t ferment very quickly.

    I’m still trying to find tasty ways of using it. I added some to pork chops the other day – yum!

    Reply
  32. Help! I tried making kraut by this NT recipe, using only salt (no whey). I had a huge head of cabbage, and I packed it into 3 jars. (I’m not sure of the exact size of the jars, as I am not able to access “Mason” type jars, but they were close to quart size.) On day 3, it looked quite lovely, and I put it in the ‘frig. (Though, in truth, I have no idea what it was “supposed” to look like!) On day 5, the liquid started disappearing. (It had been level with the cabbage.) By day 7 or 8, two jars started turning purplish-brown on top. They also smelled strange. I didn’t know what to do, so I left it a few days. On about day 10, I scraped off the ugly colored cabbage and put what remained in the ‘frig. So, what did I do wrong?! And are my two jars safe to use, if the cabbage doesn’t turn purple??

    This is the second batch of sauerkraut that I have made. The first, by a different recipe, was a disaster. And now the second looks like it’s headed to the trash also. I’m getting very discouraged (especially since I keep hearing how “easy” this is!), and my hubby is frustrated because I keep throwing money in the trash! Any advice is appreciated!

    As a side note, the kraut is VERY salty. By any chance, does the salt flavor get masked as it ferments further? I tried the “good” jar, and I could hardly choke it down. I’m new to traditional diets, and I’ve really been hoping to get started in fermented foods. If I don’t have access to a whey starter, can I use commercial yogurt and strain it? (I think I read about that somewhere.) Thanks for your help, and sorry for the novel!

    Reply
  33. Sarah,

    You mentioned using it as a condiment. Does that mean you wouldn’t serve it as a side, you would just use a little bit?

    jan

    Reply
  34. Hi Sarah,
    I’m thinking to make your Sauerkraut recipe pretty soon using the whey that I get from making Milk Kefir. Do you think it will work the same as the yogurt whey or maybe this is not a good idea? Thanks!

    Reply
  35. Sarah,
    Thanks so much for the video. LOVE the pounder you used. I cannot find a wooden one anywhere, and would love to know where you got yours. Thanks!

    Reply
  36. Hi Sarah,

    I made Sauerkraut from Nourishing Traditions and left it on the counter to ferment for 3 days before putting it into the fridge. The day I made it, I went out of town and forgot to ask my husband to put the Sauerkraut in the fridge for me after 3 days…when I returned home 9 days later, the kraut was still on the counter! AND it was from the cabbage in our garden!! Is it still good to eat if it fermented on the counter for 9 days instead of 3 days?

    Reply
  37. Hi Sarah,

    While I am happy to report that my husband is NAGGING me to make this and I am definitely interested in trying your version with caraway seeds (I make a cabbage butter sidedish that I add Caraway to and I go back for more, maybe this will break my distain of sauerkraut) I wanted to add to the ice cream conversation you have earlier in the post.

    My husband and I own a small batch ice creamery where we craft A2 ice cream from guernsey and jersey milks.
    Using stevia will most likely NOT work in ice cream making, at least by itself, as sugar acts as anti-freeze. It’s one of the things in the ice cream that keeps it from making an icecicle, instead of a frozen curd.
    I do however know that honey is a better anti-freeze than sugar, so you need less of it to produce the same effect. You could try to add some honey, enough for the desired effects, and then stevia to complete the sweet taste. It should result in a lower glycemic ice cream with the added benefits of the honey. But I would not know the exact measurements.

    Hope it helps!
    Asta

    Reply
  38. Thank you so much for making this and your other videos. I know that takes a lot of your time! I was wondering how should sauerkraut smell once done fermenting? I’m not sure how tight I put the lid on mine but I can hold the jar close to me and there is a smell. If it’s a stinky smell is that good? If the smell is wrong should I start again?

    Reply
  39. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for all your time and effort to maintain this site and the hard work on the videos!

    Five heads of cabbage in my backyard garden just became mature, so I put together a small “test batch” of your saurkraut recipe with half a head.

    My kraut sat at room temp from Saturday through Tuesday. I opened the lid and tasted a bite…very salty right now. There was still a lot of green color and I’m not seeing any bubbles. I left it out on top of the fridge for one more day. This morning I put it in the fridge.

    Questions:

    Should I leave it out at room temp (currently avg 66-68 F) until the leaves yellow?

    Now that I’ve popped the top and exposed it to air, should I refrigerate it, even though it is still fairly green?

    Should it bubble or not?

    I’m looking forward to storing the majority of the crop as saurkraut and want to make sure I’m doing it right.

    Thanks much,

    Chris

    Reply
  40. For those looking for a easy tool to push veggies down into wide mouth mason jars. They have wooden stompers for use with meat grinders for under 10.00 at Lehman’s. Non electric online. I love mine and works great for packing down into jars.

    Reply
  41. Hey
    Interresting blogg you have, lots of good information.

    I made sourkraut 1 week ago and im not sure if I did it right.
    I used the recipe on the page, but I couldn’t get the cabbage to stay under the liquid the whole time when it was fermenting. Can’t see any mold and the smell is not bad.
    So my question is:If the cabbage can be bad for me even if I can’t see any mold and the smell is allright?

    Reply
  42. Hi Sarah can I used the same method for the cauliflower and carrots as well,thanks I love all your videos, thanks for all your effort, well looks like you enjoy what you do, please answer me as soon as you can ,(if is possible) I ask you few things in another videos but maybe you didn’t see it,thanks a million again,maggie , you are becoming my hero in the kitchen

    Reply
  43. I’ve recently read where other Traditional Food bloggers are saying whey is not necessary for the fermentation of vegetables. Others say the product won’t have good bacteria without it. I’m new to this and am trying to do what’s best. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks.

    Reply
  44. Hi Sarah!

    I used fresh goat milk to make my whey and cream cheese. I didn’t let it sour first, but just left it fresh on the counter and waited for it to “klaver” (not sure if I spelled that right) and then let it strain through a nut milk bag. The cheese tastes like yeast. Is that the way it’s supposed to be? Can it klaver properly if the milk isn’t sour? I’m asking. Because I made sauerkraut with the whey and it’s puffing up with air pockets in it. Did I do something wrong? Do I open it and push it back down? Oh and is the goat cheese ok to eat if it tastes like yeast?
    Thanks for any help you can give on this!

    Reply
  45. Tami,
    When I do sauerkraut I sterilize with boiling water my jar, cutting board, bowl, knife and a kitchen pounder and wash my hands very well!! I wash a counter with vinegar. I am very careful not to contaminate cabbage with bad bacteria from environment.
    I grate my cabbage. Take 1 tablespoon for 1 kg of cabbage. I put grated cabbage into a glass bowl (Pyrex) sprinkle with sea salt and pound it with a clean pounder. I cover it with a plate.
    After about 4 hours when it softens I tightly pack it into a sterilized jar with a clean spoon and pound it well. I use for pounding a glass bottle or a small jar because glass is the best material for keeping bacteria away. A juice should come to the surface.
    Sealed jar I put into a dark cupboard (I heard that it is better that way).
    After 2-3 days I open a jar and pound my sauerkraut once more to make sure that a cabbage is covered with a juice.
    I leave it for another 3 weeks in the cupboard ( I was told that good bacteria needs 3 weeks of fermentation process). After that time I put it into a fridge. Ready to eat.

    Reply
  46. Does heating the kraut to eat it, does the heat destroy the beneficial bacteria and enzymes? I made a Reuben with mine and then wondered if heating it defeated the purpose. Thanks!

    Reply
  47. Ok, I just made my first batch of sauerkraut based on your video, and used whey from clabbored milk based on your other video. Three days and counting! I’m going to make some fermented lemonade in a couple of days.

    I don’t do the cooking in my house, but I sure am having fun learning about the healthy side of eating, as well as making these foodie projects. I never thought it would be this simple, and I REALLY never thought healthy food could ever taste good. Thanks for showing me otherwise.

    Thanks for putting these videos together. They’re just great!

    Reply
  48. Hi Sarah, i have jut opened my jar of kraut, i followed each step carefully but when i opened my jar, it fizzed over and smells very gassy. I’m too scared to eat it! It smells very similar to a store bought jar i have but wanted to make sure before i eat it.

    Thanks :)

    Reply
  49. I don’t have Mason jars – I live in the Middle East and can’t find them – can I use a Nescafe jar? It has a plastic lid. And if I can’t find sea salt, is regular salt ok?

    Reply
  50. i just finished making yogurt from milk that was not homogenized and a purchased starter culture. It didn’t work our very well so I decided to separate it for the whey. The whey is a little cloudy and I hope that is ok. My real question is this. I want to make a large batch of sauerkraut in a crock. Can I make it like you do in the video? I want to use the whey from the yogurt and hope it is suitable.

    Reply
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  52. Thank you Sarah,
    Is the shape of clear glass jar important? in fermentation in general?

    i have wide and short jar shape…I mean does the fermentation need only certain area of space of air or one inch of space at the top is perfect ….and 10 inches air space doesn’t matter..??

    i know the air surface matter in clabering milk like you explained in video.

    i like to make the ketchup and don’t have the same jar shape, please help

    Reply
  53. It appears that one needs unpasteurized milk to make liquid whey. hmmm. I have no access to unpasteurized milk. Any advice? thanks. BTW. I love your blog. Great videos.

    Reply
  54. Firstly, may we have your recipe for Kimchi?
    Secondly, can you add other vegetables like carrots to make Kraut.
    Thirdly, can you successfully use whey produced by straining home made yoghurt? I use fresh full cream, pasteurised but not homogenised Jersey milk and a Bulgarian starter.

    Thanks

    Reply
  55. Pingback: Healthy Child Network Keep your Babies Healthy with 2 Important First Foods! - Healthy Child Network

  56. Hi Sarah,
    Can I use the liquid whey from the kefir that I am making with organic whole milk to ferment the sauerkraut? If I can how do I take the whey out after making the kefir?. I am guessing I just strain out the light yellowish liquid from the kefir.

    Reply

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