Introduction: Easy Small Batch Fermented Sauerkraut

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You might wonder how to get a big cabbage into a small jar.

Follow these easy steps to find out.

Step 1: All You Need to Get Started

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Salt—must not be iodised

Bowl—bigger is better

Jar with wide mouth, gasket and wire bale 100mm wide x 150mm tall. These are readily available at kitchen and houseware stores.

Shredder or sharp knife

Measuring spoons

Step 2: Chop the Cabbage Into Sixths

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This isn’t the cabbage in the first photo, that one was cut up before I could snap the picture.

Remove the outer leaves and wipe off any remaining dirt but don’t wash the cabbage.

Step 3: Shred or Slice Finely

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We prefer to slice the cabbage as it tends to fall apart in our shredder.

Step 4: Add Salt

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Add 1.5 - 2 Tablespoons of salt to the bowl full of shredded or finely sliced cabbage.

Remember to use kosher, plain or sea salt but make sure it isn’t iodised or fermentation won’t happen.

Step 5: Massage Cabbage

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Roll your sleeves up and massage the cabbage for between 5 and 10 minutes.

After a few minutes water will be released from the cabbage. Keep going until the cabbage becomes very limp.

You might notice the bowl in this step is not the same glass bowl as in step 2. The glass bowl was too small to massage the cabbage in so I transferred everything to a bigger one.

Photo 3 in this step shows the limp cabbage, the next one shows the juice that was released through the massaging.

Step 6: Pack the Cabbage Into the Jar

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Grab a handful of cabbage and put it into the jar.

Tamp down with your closed fist.

Repeat until almost all of the cabbage is in the jar, getting it as full as possible.

Some of the “juice” might need to be discarded.

Step 7: Fill the Jar Right Up

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Then close the lid.

The key to making small batch sauerkraut is to use a wide mouth jar with a rubber gasket and wire bale.

The one I use holds about 750ml and is 100mm wide x 150mm tall. It's perfect for one head of cabbage. The wire bale allows the liquid to release from the jar during the fermentation process.

Step 8: Storage During Fermentation

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Rest the closed jar in a bowl as liquid will be released during the first few days. The wire fastener keeps a tight fit while still allowing liquid to escape.

Store it in a cool dark place for 8 - 14 days. Fermentation takes longer in cold weather and less time in summer.

Step 9: The Finished Sauerkraut

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Color and texture changes during fermentation.

There are many variables which contribute to different outcomes—the cabbage itself, the amount of salt, season etc.

Store in the refrigerator and enjoy the crisp, crunchy, tart sauerkraut.

Step 10:


dmoonen (author)2015-09-25

I meant that a band is on its way.

susanrm (author)2014-11-10

I have started a batch! Thank you so much for making this easier. The crocks are hard to find here and expensive, but I had wire bale jars.

BLASTFEMI (author)2014-11-03

That's new to me not to wash the cabbage! And didn't know not to use non-iodized salt or no fermentation! Thanks for all the great info!

cfuse (author)BLASTFEMI2014-11-08

My understanding is that the primary reason that washing isn't recommended is that it adds more fluid to the situation. If you wanted to wash and let dry for a reasonable while it would probably work.

ooohlaa (author)2014-11-07

as a general rule that is easy to follow, we should be using celtic or himalayan sea salt because none of the minerals are removed ... in other words it is just dried, not processed and also it is much easier on the system, being a whole food. Celtic is grey and himalayan is pink. I buy in health food stores in bulk dept. There are also some others that are approved as whole salts. Since most of us use salts freely, its a good thing to do for yourself.

MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-11-03

It's amazing how much cabbage goes into sauerkraut, it's almost like magic. I got to find myself one of those jars, it just seems to work perfectly for your need.

It is like magic. The key for us is the small batch in the wire bale jar. We tried it once using a stoneware sauerkraut jar. It took three or four cabbages, maybe even five, was a lot of work and we obviously did something wrong but it reeked and after a while we threw the slimy mess in the compost. Good luck.

ulab (author)ClareBS2014-11-07

You need to make sure that the kraut is covered with fluid. Each strip of cabbage that has contact with air will go bad and ruin the rest. That's why you add a weight on top of the kraut in stoneware sauerkraut jars - to make sure it doesn't float up. Also they use a "water seal" so that gas from the fermentation can go out, but air from the outside can't come in.

Fermentation is going on as long as you can see bubbles being produced. If that slows down, the sauerkraut is ready :).

mikecz (author)2014-11-06

Could you possibly state the amount of salt used as a percentage of the weight of the cabbage? A "big" cabbage isn't very precise - 4 pounds? 7 pounds? 12 pounds?


ulab (author)mikecz2014-11-07

A lot of recipes I've seen call for 2% salt.

ClareBS (author)mikecz2014-11-06

Sorry, I can't but I don't think it is that important. If you weigh the cabbage first it won't be accurate anyway as all of it isn't used. When I used two Tablespoons of Kosher salt it worked well but tasted too salty. One and a half Tablespoons works well for me. Maybe someone else can give you a better idea.

Cheese Queen (author)2014-11-06

Note: iodized salt is okay to use, but it may discolor your kraut. The actual measurement is 3 Tablespoons of salt to 5 pounds of cabbage (or 12 grams of salt per pound of cabbage). Too little will result in poor fermentation- too much and your kraut will be unpleasantly salty. Caraway seed (a pinch) can be added for extra flavor.

Cut your cabbage as finely as you can- big chunks can get rubbery. You can make it in the jar by tossing your (weighed) shredded cabbage with the (weighed) salt, and then pressing your cabbage vigorously into the jar with a piece of wooden broom handle, a small potato masher or something similar. You want to crush the cabbage a bit as you press it down so it releases its juices and removes all the air possible. A little mold may form on the surface as the kraut ferments but its harmless- skim it off and discard.

mikecz (author)Cheese Queen2014-11-06

Thank you for giving some weight recipes. With a modern digital kitchen scale this gets really easy, especially if you use kilogram/gram measures.Dispose of however many outer cabbage leaves you want, along with the cabbage core. Put your big bowl on the scale. Hit "tare". Shred or slice the cabbage, putting it in the bowl. What's it weigh? Add about 2% salt - when you weigh the salt, it doesn't make any difference what kind it is (but still stay away from iodized table salt). Now just follow the recipe.

ClareBS (author)Cheese Queen2014-11-06

Thanks for the salt to cabbage ratio. In the small jar I use it would be pretty hard to toss the cabbage and salt in the jar but that would work for larger batches.

sle5 (author)2014-11-04

that seems pretty straight forward with small details... im going to make some too! thanks for sharing! #SYOI ! anyone have a link for good prices on jars?

mikecz (author)sle52014-11-06

I have found almost all wire bale jars we have at Goodwill and other local thrift stores. They're usually $2-4. New sealing rings are available at better cooking supply stores or from Amazon.

ClareBS (author)sle52014-11-04

They are easy to find in New Zealand so should be easy in most countries. Mine cost NZ$3.00, pretty cheap.

sle5 (author)ClareBS2014-11-04


bluemoon6 (author)2014-11-06

Wanted to mention that this kind of fresh kraut is full of great probiotics....I was very sick and needed to get the flora in my colon back and this is one of the recommended foods. I had to buy mine at a health food store...and it was close to $9.00 a quart...will saved this and give it a try...I am just afraid the jar will blow up ?? lol...

ClareBS (author)bluemoon62014-11-06

My GP recommended eating fermented sauerkraut to help with stomach problems. A pint jar of organic sauerkraut from a natural food store cost about NZ$15 which was an incentive to learn how to make my own.

The jar won't blow up because the gas releases gently through the wire bale mechanism.

bluemoon6 (author)ClareBS2014-11-06

Thank you for your reply...I will try this soon...

grillingMontana (author)2014-11-06

So with the wire bale jar- are you sealing it shut pre ferment or leaving it loose so gas can escape?

ClareBS (author)grillingMontana2014-11-06

Close the lid and engage the wire bale pre fermenting. The wire mechanism allows the gas (and some liquid) to escape.

ooohlaa (author)2014-11-06

uh oh I read it twice and still did not see how long to ferment it?

casino_trains (author)ooohlaa2014-11-06

8-14 days but if place is cold then more days needed

RmbrRuffian (author)2014-11-06

You DON'T want to rinse the sauerkraut before eating. The bacteria that produces fermentation is the best probiotic you can eat. It is natural and inoculates the gut with healthy flora. For people who have a flora imbalance in their gut, fermented foods can help healing and restore balance to the gut. Since our gut has more to do with our immune system than anything else, keeping it in balance is of utmost importance.

@ RmberRuffiam

You are VERY correct, never wash it

ooohlaa (author)2014-11-06

sorry didn't notice there was another page ... thanx great instructs I make this and kim chi but never thot to use a bale jar ... the reason not to wash the cabbage is that the leaves naturally have the right kind of bacteria atop them that starts the fermentation process ... you can also add a probiotic capsue to accellerate the process while you are massaging.

sle5 (author)2014-11-04

could you recommend any seasonings before and/or after?

ClareBS (author)sle52014-11-04

A lot of recipes call for caraway seeds but I think you can add almost anything. Some finely shredded carrot adds color.

R_H (author)ClareBS2014-11-05

My parents used to make this pretty much every year and would normally add dried dill seeds ( similar to caraway I guess ) and shredded carrot. I find it overall improves the flavour as it otherwise can be a bit bland to my liking. Also, I believe the sort of cabbage is pretty important as some work better for sauerkraut than others. Oh, and I like to serve it lightly drizzled with oil, e.g. sunflour or olive oil.

dimdiode (author)2014-11-04

OOps, sorry, found the time info.

dimdiode (author)2014-11-04

OOps, sorry, found the time info.

dimdiode (author)2014-11-04

hi, this is useful info - I would like to have a go at making sauerkraut, but didn't know how. One thing - how long does it need to ferment before it's ready? thanks

milosko (author)2014-11-04
AlienSKP (author)2014-11-04

I love you.

For seasonning, add black pepper corn and juniper berries.

And don't forget to rince it before cooking your Choucroute a la francaise !

AlienSKP (author)AlienSKP2014-11-04

Oh and do use Kosher salt as Kosher salt contains no additive like iodine

About This Instructable




Bio: Retired teacher from long ago and semi-retired graphic designer who loves the outdoors. American expat living in New Zealand for over 20 years.
More by ClareBS:An Easy Way to Remember to Take a Full Course of Antibiotics.How to put together a jigsaw puzzleEasy small batch fermented sauerkraut
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