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With billions of probiotics in each bite, sauerkraut is being ranked as one of the highest forms of probiotics you can eat, including out-ranking over the counter probiotic pills.  It’s also one the easiest things to make in your kitchen where literally the chopping of the cabbage is what takes the most time. Click here to read more on the benefits of home brewed sauerkraut.


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First: take a medium to large organic head of cabbage and chop it up as fine as you like it. The finer the chop, the faster it ferments. I prefer to make my kraut by chopping it in the Vitamix, floating the cabbage in water. It takes 4 minutes to IMG_5045chop the whole head of cabbage this way.

Second: add 2 tablespoons mineral salt and stir. You want to have all the salt equally distributed throughout the cabbage pieces. Some people go on to pound their cabbage with a cabbage pounder like this or a meat tenderizer like this, some even use a clean baseball bat. Other people massage and squeeze it with their hands while others just let it sit and allow the salt to break open the cell walls. Either way let it sit or pound it until the cabbage is limp and liquid has come out of the cabbage. Since I’m a big fan of wait I let it sit while I do other chores. This is called salting.

Third: pack the cabbage into mason jars packing it tightly so that there are no air pockets. Be sure the top of the cabbage is covered by the liquid, this protects it from rising up and going moldy. Leave one inch of head space between the top of the cabbage and the lid. Brewing in a mason jar is an anaerobic ferment, meaning IMG_5050without oxygen. This only takes 4-7 days to brew. The warmer the temperature the faster it brews. If you need it to brew faster use one tablespoon salt, one tablespoon whey. I let my kraut brewed for 12 days. Once it is brewed to your taste preference, put it in the refrigerator to slow fermentation.

Take note, if any cabbage rises up over the top of the water brine it is fine. If it is left long enough, white mold will form. Traditionally, instructions have been just scrape it off and eat what is beneath. It sounds disgusting but that mold is not a damaging mold to your body, according to Sandor Katz the Godfather of fermentation and author of Wild Fermentation. He does say in this interview that if the mold does form, scrape off the white top before the layer gets too thick and reaches deep down into the jar, then put it in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.

Since this is an anaerobic recipe it is important to leave the jar with the lid on, do not open it to see how it’s doing. Go by the look of how limp the cabbage is, the lighter the color, the more brewed. If you just can’t stand waiting then open it and taste it. Be aware when you do this you are letting in oxygen and halting the anaerobic environment so it’ll take longer to brew once you put the lid back on and you risk bacteria growth. People do this, you haven’t ruined it if you open it, it’s just not optimal.

RECIPE RECAP:

1 medium  to large head of organic cabbage

2 tablespoons salt

Chop, salt, pack in jar, put the lid on, leave on the counter for 4-12 days (preferably under a towel, it likes a dark spot).

The FDA has never found any incidence of someone getting ill or dying from sauerkraut.

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becky head shot2*Nourishing Plot is written by a mom whose son has been delivered from the effects of autism (asperger’s syndrome), ADHD, bipolar disorder, manic depression, hypoglycemia and dyslexia through food. This is not a news article published by a paper trying to make money. This blog is put out by a mom who sees first hand the effects of nourishing food vs food-ish items. No company pays her for writing these blogs, she considers this a form of missionary work. It is her desire to scream it from the rooftops so that others don’t suffer from the damaging effect of today’s “food”.

 

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171 Responses to Making Sauerkraut At Home In 3 Easy Steps

  1. Rebekah B says:

    Does commercial “store bought” kraut have the probiotics? Or from a health food store? I feel a bit nervous making my own. 🙂

  2. trina lummus says:

    Im sorry for you and ur little boy’ as a child they dkdnt catcdidnt catch my learning problems at least u caught his and r getting him help at an early age be thankful n
    Thankful theres more help out there and all of r eyes r a little more open but we still got a long way to go before r kids get the help they need

  3. Marie says:

    Can you elaborate on how you chop it in the Vitamix?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      to chop vegetables in the vitamix quickly fill the vitamix up 3/4 of the way with water, drop in some chopped cabbage (roughly 1/4 of the head or just less – enough so that it flows freely in the mixer). put the machine on for just a few seconds so that the cabbage is sucked down to chop and no more. drain in a colander. repeat until the whole head is chopped.

  4. JB says:

    Hello Becky,
    My grandmother used to make sauerkraut using an big wash basin, with a huge round (clean) granite rock which held the chopped cabbage down with a board, and the whole was covered with a damp cloth and kept in a dark cool place for 7 to 10 days or so (can’t quite remember).
    Have you heard of anyone else doing this?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      i’ve heard of all sorts of ways, in a bucket even. i do glass jars because they’re easy and safe and i dont worry about aluminum leaching or pba leaching. sauerkraut has been made for thousands of years in countless types of vessels. i love grandma making stories, we have lost touch with how to do things. keep the stories coming!

      • Jen says:

        I remember staying with my grandparents, as a child, during Kraut making (as they called it), back in the 70’s. They, and their neighbors, grew massive amounts of cabbage, and got together for a long day of making Kraut. They made so much they used a “Kraut slicer”, which is a large wooden manoline type slicer. My grandpa gave it to me when I visited last year. They sliced, salted, and pounded the cabbage in large bowls, then packed it into large crocks. I can’t remember how they weighted it and covered, or if they kept it in the basement, or eventually refrigerated it. I’ll have to ask my grandpa next time I see him. I make it like you do, in the mason jars, though I would love to try a large crock eventually. I think I’ll make a few extra jars to take to my grandpa. I bet he would appreciate the real thing!

  5. Barbara Stone says:

    When you start checking it, you have introduced oxygen. Then what? Do you check the same jar each time? will it go bad? Thanks

    • Becky Plotner says:

      if you open it up you are introducing oxygen, yes. that is why it is best, if doing an anaerobic ferment, to leave the lid on the jar. if you care to do a ferment that you open and check for taste you are better off fermenting in a crock. if you are doing an anaerobic ferment, in a mason jar with a lid, it is best to wait a day or two after the fermenting bubbles disappear. an ferment that has brewed too long will have a white yeast film on top. if you see that film forming through the glass open it up, skim off the film and put the jar in the refrigerator.

      • Amy says:

        I thought you had to loosen the lid occasionally to avoid pressure building up, so I was opening them every day. Then I got so busy with work I neglected them for four weeks, and they were just fine.

  6. Lynn says:

    I love this and am in the process of making my second batch. I have a question though. I go camping often and have put enough in a small jar to take for the trip, putting the jar in the ice chest. This trip it got really cold almost frozen. How does this effect it’s quality? Many Blessings, Lynn

  7. Gin says:

    After mine got through sitting for the 14 days, I tasted it. Whoa! Salty! Too darn salty… After two weeks of waiting, I didn’t want to lose it, so I drained off a lot of the salty water and put in some clear water and put in fridge. After another week it was still tooooooo salty for me. ::slump:: I sat and thought about how other Sauerkraut tastes and just put in a little Natural ACV. Then let set a few days. When I tasted it, I loved it!! I guess I like the addition of the sour tangy taste.

    — I hope I didn’t mess up any healthy benefits ? Please tell me no… 🙂

    – Thank you for your help!

    • Becky Plotner says:

      apple cider vinegar will yes kill the probiotics. it’s still beneficial, just not the probiotic aspect. too much salt will prevent good bacteria from growing. i’m curious to know how it turns out for you if you do it again using less salt.

  8. maria d says:

    Why the FDA disclaimer at the bottom of the recipe? ?joke

  9. Oh come on now….isn’t there a good place to just purchase sauerkraut?? Health Food Store? Maybe?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      there are. make sure they are refrigerated, not shelf stable. one 30oz jar will cost roughly $10, making it yourself will be less than half of that and it will have a higher probiotic count because you can allow it to brew further

  10. Scott Bryan says:

    I followed a link to your blog through the Fido Fermentation facebook group. It’s nice to see so much support for home fermenting. If you want to make the experience even better, try Fido jars. Fidos are excellent for fermenting. The clamp lid will allow pressure to escape but doesn’t allow any oxygen back in. Most ferments won’t even need a weight to hold them under the brine because all of the oxygen gets pushed out.

  11. Shawn Johnson says:

    I wanted to thank you for the wealth of information in this article and especially in your responses to some excellent questions about it. I wanted to share a bit of my life with you as it seems somehow relevant. In 1994 I succumbed to the HIV infection I had been living with since at least 1982. If you know anything about the AIDS virus and how it attacks the body then you probably know that it attacks each host differently depending on the strain each person is infected with. In October of 1994 I suddenly came down with something the doctors called AIDS related wasting syndrome, due to diarhea that was both uncontrollable and untreatable primarily because the medical community couldn’t figure out why those of us with it, had it. By Christmas of that same year I had gone from 207lbs to 148lbs, and I’m a big guy. The only thing that would stop the diarhea was tincture of opium and even that didn’t treat the problem, but did allow temporary postponement of the symptoms, meaning I could leave my home for short periods of time. By the end of 1995 I weighed 118lbs and had been receiving all nurishment through a pic line leading directly into my heart, because I could no longer even watch people eat. The smell of food, watching others eat, anything to do with digesting food repulsed me and I would have died had I not had the pic line in which to pump nurishment into my body. Here’s the deal though, during the year and a half in which the mere thought of putting food into my mouth and swallowing it would cause my body to lurch and dry heve, I discovered that smoking pot made me hungry, in fact made me crave, for two things and only two things. Oranges and Sauerkraut. When I say crave I mean I could sit and eat a bushel of oranges in a single sitting, almost cry when they were gone even. My hunger for saurkraut was more situational, some brands I could eat right out of the can (because I couldn’t eat it if it was microwaved or heated up in anyway….the colder the better) and some I could not touch (because some brands had a more chemically smell to them than the kind I liked). The cravings for both were always short lived and were completely gone within hours but I always wondered why oranges and saurkraut of all things. Given the symptoms I was suffering from then and what I’ve read in your comments I can’t help but wonder if, at least for the Kraut, if my body was trying to tell me what I needed to get better. I still crave both oranges and kraut more now then before I got sick and I really have never had cravings before for any food that I ever noticed. Anyway thanks for the information. Gonna start making my own soon.

    • Becky Plotner says:

      wow that is amazing! thank you for sharing this story. interesting too about the oranges and kraut – both are very high in vitamin C! so much to learn….. i’m praying for you, for a continual recovery of health. thank you for taking the time to share this.

    • Efil Rof Deliugeb says:

      We hear from talk a man say the way “ormus” minerals are made bioactive from both food and salt with fermentation and consumption of ferments. I do not know if true, but he so sure life preserving would be occurring. Bacteria be happy we be happy

  12. Jennifer says:

    Can you add caraway seeds to the sauerkraut before you put the lid on and will it affect the probiotics?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      adding different herbs and spices will increase the probiotic effect of the food by adding different strains. caraways seeds in kraut is very common in Slovakian countries, Russia and Poland.

  13. Chris says:

    I used to buy a commercial sauerkraut from a farm in Vermont. I liked it because it was crispy, and bubbling away. Most of mine comes out limp and soggy, which isn’t great.

    How did they make crispy sauerkraut without it turning into mush?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      they dont let it ferment as long. the longer it ferments the more probiotic strains it has. carolyn barringer from cooking with gaps says the probiotic count doubles every 30 minutes from when it begins brewing. there are three phases of fermentation, the bubbling is one of the early stages. you are getting a better probiotic if you let it go longer, however if you desire it bubbly and crisp then just pull it earlier and put it in the refrigerator sooner to slow the fermentation process. if your body craves that stage maybe there is something there you need nutritionally.

    • Becky Plotner says:

      For crispy kraut pull it earlier – like day 2 to 5. It won’t have as many probiotics but if you like it….

  14. Sonia says:

    I would love a good sauerkraut soup recipe . Can anyone help ?
    Does cooked sauerkraut still have probiotic benefits ?
    Once you open the jar should you put it in the fridge ? I mean does it go off when exposed to oxygen like that ? Thank you 🙂

  15. Glenys says:

    Hi- a newbie here. All ready to start making sauerkraut (I have a culture also) but my friend said if I seal it, there will be a great explosion as hers did. What did she do wrong?

    • Becky Plotner says:

      leave one inch head space at the top of the jar. if you see the top of your mason jar lid bulging because it is building up too much gas inside unscrew the lid a bit to release some pressure but do not take off the lid completely to allow oxygen into the jar. this if for optimal outcome. some people, however, completely remove their lid and taste the product throughout allowing in oxygen

  16. Kevin says:

    Great job!Thank you for the great information.

  17. Robert says:

    Hi Becky!

    I have a quick question: once salt is added to chopped cabbage there a salty cabbage juice will be created. Shall it be drained away before putting cabbage into the jar or shall it be added in? I’m asking in the context of whether this salt is necessary in the next steps of the fermentation process.

    Also, I assume that if the juice with salt is to be drained away the jar/cabbage needs to be flooded with external water on top of compressing cabbage in a jar tightly?

    Thanks for your advice.

    • Becky Plotner says:

      add the salt and pack it in the jars. this topic has a bit of controversy among experts. sandor katz, author of wild fermentation says you don’t need salt, that it’s just for taste. that the vegetables have natural enzymes on them that create the probiotic count. he says you can just pack veggies in a jar with water and they’ll ferment on their own accord. others say you need the salt to create the fermentation process. for sure TOO much salt will cease the probiotic growth so don’t over do the salting.

      • Robert says:

        Thank you very much Becky.

        Let me share my experience of making the first jar: I have filled the jar nearly to the top leaving only about 2cm of space at the top. More needs to be left as it swallows and a jar would start to leak.

      • Amy says:

        Dr Mercola adds celery juice, which has a salty taste. My understanding is that bad bacteria cannot live in salt but the good ones don’t mind it.

  18. Joyce says:

    I think the 2 T salt is a typo. After reading the comment about the results being too salty tasting I decided to add only 2 tsp to my batch and it came out PERFECT!!! (1 head of cabbage into 2 quart size mason jars). I love making and eating my own sauerkraut now. It tastes just as good as any I’ve ever eaten. I feel fantastic after eating it too (but I admit being very susceptible to the placebo effect -lucky me!).

    The water in my jars did not cover the cabbage the whole two weeks. By the time they were ready to open the water line was about an inch below the sauerkraut. I just scooped off the top layer of cabbage and it tasted fine and I didn’t get any negative symptoms.

    In fact I’m allergic to mold so I used to be scared to eat fermented foods but I have never gotten sick from them.

    • Becky Plotner says:

      awesome! the 2 T isn’t a misprint, that’s what i use and prefer. i let it brew longer so it’s not salty when it’s done. the amount of salt is your choice, for flavor. i’m so glad you found the level you enjoy!!!!!

  19. […] of the fermented vegetables there were literally ten trillion bacteria.” That means 2 ounces of home fermented sauerkraut had more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules. Translated this means one 16 […]

  20. […] Leave a reply Making Sauerkraut At Home In 3 Easy Steps […]

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