Sauerkraut is a lacto-fermented vegetable, which mean that it picks up lactobacilla, a naturally occuring bacteria that is very good for gut and overall health. As a result, it become a powerhouse of nutrition. It’s a probiotic, anti-inflammatory food that increases energy via high iron, improves digestion with high fiber, boosts immunity because of high vitamin C levels, and more!
Real, authentic, healthy sauerkraut, unfortunately, is pretty expensive to buy (and, in some areas, hard to come by). Fortunately, it’s super inexpensive and easy to make at home! Basic sauerkraut is made using only these three simple, inexpensive ingredients: shredded cabbage, salt, and water. That’s it! Now, to boost flavor and/or nutritive value, you can add a blend of spices or other foods such as shredded carrot, chopped green onions, or even apples.
The Kraut Source Lid
Before I dive into the how to, let me introduce you to the Kraut Source lid. This is how I make all of my sauerkraut. I’ve tried other methods and they got the job done, sure, but honestly the Kraut Source lid is the easiest and most efficient way to make homemade sauerkraut (as well as other fermented foods). So my instructions definitely highlight this most beloved tool of mine!
How to Make Sauerkraut
- To get started, you must first shred your cabbage and prepare (slice, chop, etc.) any other veggies or fruit. Remember to remove the cabbage’s core!
- Next, WEIGH the sauerkraut and any other additional veggies or fruit (any kitchen scale will do as long as it is calibrated accurately, but here’s my favorite one). For every pound of veggies and fruit, add one tablespoon of high-quality sea salt (this is my preferred). Mix these ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl (one made of glass, stainless steel, or ceramic–no plastic) and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes have passed, “knead” (or basically squish with your hands) the cabbage for about 5 minutes. The resting period and the kneading both work with the salt to “juice” the cabbage, creating brine.
- Mix in any desired spices at this point then insert the prepared cabbage mixture to a sterilized glass mason jar. Using a wooden spoon or a wood pounder, press the cabbage down towards the bottom of the jar. Fill the jar up to its “shoulder.” The point of pounding it is to pack in as much cabbage as you can and, more importantly, remove any air bubbles to prevent contamination.
When sterilizing the mason jar for this, wash it in the sink with dish soap and hot water. Rinse then pour some boiling water into the jar, let it sit for a bit, then pour it out just before using the jar to pack the cabbage in. Avoid ever washing the jar in the dishwasher because the force of the water in the dishwasher can cause teeny tiny scratches to form on the inside of the jar which increases the risk of contamination.
- Pour in the brine until the cabbage is covered by an inch worth of liquid. If the kneading process didn’t produce enough brine, you can make more brine by mixing 1/2 teaspoon sea salt with 1/2 cup hot filtered water (stir until dissolved).
- Put a Kraut Source lid (press, spring, moat, and cap) on top of the jar, screw on the jar’s ring, and release the press so that it pushes down on the cabbage. Fill the moat about 3/4 of the way full with water.
- Allow to ferment in a dark or semi-dark place for at least 5 days (the longer it ferments, the stronger the tangy flavor). Refill the moat to 3/4 full as necessary (check daily–especially in warmer weather).
- 1 ½ pounds (weighed) green cabbage, shredded
- 1 ½ tablespoons sea salt
- ½ cups hot filtered water
- ½ teaspoon mineral salt
- Mix the shredded cabbage and 1-1/2 tablespoons salt together in a non-reactive bowl (glass, stainless steel, or ceramic). Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Knead the cabbage for 5 minutes by squeezing with clean hands.
- Pack the cabbage into a freshly sterilized 1-quart size mason jar. Pack down (try to remove all air bubbles) with a wooden spoon or a wood pounder. Fill the jar up to its shoulder and pour in the brine that kneading produced until the cabbage is covered by about an inch of brine. If there isn't enough brine, make more by mixing together the filtered water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a glass measuring cup. Pour over the cabbage until the one inch coverage is achieved.
- Place a Kraut Source lid (press, spring, moat, and cap) on top of the jar and tighten with the jar's ring. Release the press slowly.
- Fill the moat 3/4 of the way full with water.
- Place the jar in a dark or semi-dark location (away from direct sunlight) and allow to ferment for at least 5 days (the longer, the tangier the flavor). Refill the moat to 3/4 full as necessary.