How to Make Traditional Sauerkraut

Introduction: How to Make Traditional Sauerkraut

About: I'm just a kid. No really! Well, I'm a little over five and a half (decades of course!) and I find I'm still hanging on to my inner child. Curiosity might kill cats, but it is how humans discover, invent and...

This is my sauerkraut recipe, complete with full-colour, time-lapse photography (wow!).

I decided to put this together because the excellent book Nourishing Traditions had a more complicated version, which is not entirely necessary and I wanted to find the simplest way of making this healthy alternative to coleslaw. So after some research and experimentation, here is the basic method. It turns out that it is really easy and requires the minimum of equipment and ingredients: a kitchen knife, chopping board, mixing bowl and 'basher' cabbage and salt, and that's it!

It's uniquely flavoured and naturally sours without any vinegar being added.

Step 1: Get the Equipment Together (plus a Cabbage!)

1 kitchen knife

1 chopping board

1 mixing bowl

1 rolling pin or other suitable 'basher'

As for ingredients, it's just cabbage (any kind will do) and...

Salt (best use good quality sea salt) - about a tablespoon or two per cabbage, more if the weather is particulalrly hot, and that's it!

Step 2: Shred the Cabbage

Chop it any size you like. Traditionally I think it's usually quite fine, but I can't be bothered with that! Use any kind of cabbage - I like these red (purple) ones, and sometimes mixing them with white ones to get a pretty pink colour.

Step 3: Use It All!

Don't be shy - put it all in. If you want to. If you'd rather leave out the heart, that's fine too. Inset is the only part of the cabbage I threw out.

Step 4: Bash!

Once you've chopped the cabbage, put it in the mixing bowl, I find that it's easier to chop a bit, then put it in the bowl and sprinkle with the salt as I go. The salt is there largely to prevent rotting over the first two to four days while the lactobacilli get going. It also helps to draw the juice from the cabbage. Then bash. About ten minutes is fine, depending on how juicy your cabbage is.

Step 5: Admire Your Juicy Pre-kraut

When finished it should look something like this. I've circled a nice bit of moisture - all from the cabbage.

Step 6: Jar It Up

Now you put it in the jar and press down well. Again, it's good to do a bit at a time.

Step 7: Squishing As You Go

Ideally the liquid should be at about the same level as the cabbage, but don't worry too much. If really necessary, you can add some salt water to top it up. I find that a bit more compacting into the jar usually does the job. Oh, and do leave a gap as the level rises during fermentation (see below).

Step 8: Wait...

The promised time-lapse photography - genuine, unretouched pictures of the batch I made for this instructable over the first 8 days of fermentation. As you will notice, the level rises quite dramatically at first.

All in all, it takes a little effort and some patience waiting for the lactobacilli to do their work, but it is an extremely beneficial food and cheap to boot. Enjoy!



    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest
    • Game Life Contest

      Game Life Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    9 Discussions

    How do you know when it is ready to eat? And can you add other ingredients without messing up the lactobacilli? I'm thinking caraway or other herbs.

    And thank you so much for making this intructable simple, tangible and enticing!

    I was just given an old clay crock that doesn't have any cracks, etc and am thinking to make a big batch in that. I'm excited to try!

    Thanks again!

    2 replies

    Very good question. It's edible at every stage, but isn't really proper Sauerkraut until after about three weeks. Most folk seem to say that three months is better. I would advise tasting at various ages and make your choice. :)


    12 months ago

    My wife is German so I'm going to have to make this for her :) Can't wait.

    1 reply

    12 months ago

    Did you seal that jar? Won't it explode?

    1 reply

    Absolutely sealed! It does build up a little pressure, but not as much as when a beer maker bottles their brew. I've never had a bang! :)

    That looks really good, great job on your instructable :) One of my friends always uses red cabbage too.

    1 reply

    Thank you! It's so much better than the shop bought stuff and cheaper too :)