I'd Like to Make a Good Sauerkraut

I've tried it twice, using just salt and working it into the shredded cabbage. I cannot get the taste I want, and eventually I get scared and throw it out.

It seems so simple, And I'm a pretty good cook. Anyone have a fool-proof method?


  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    Have you left it to ferment long enough? We make ours in a big seven gallon crock. Shred cabbage and mix with salt and press down into the crock in layers using a potato masher to get a good press. As you do this the liquid formed will eventually rise over the top of the cabbage as you keep adding and pressing firmly. Once all cabbage is in, we use a few squares of cheese cloth and tuck it down the sides against the cabbage, then use weights to keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Remove any bits of floating cabbage since those will start to mold and wipe down the inner sides of the crock. Cover - we use a clean dishcloth topped with a large plate that fits the top perfectly. Ferment for two to three weeks, checking occasionally for signs of mold, floating bits, and taste. We choose to can most of ours and have found that the flavor complexity develops while they are in the jars. Now, we try not to open jar until it has been on the shelf for a year! - perfection :)

  • wbt.affiliates
    wbt.affiliates Posts: 100 ✭✭✭

    @Mary Linda Bittle This is an excellent article. It also works with carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and other vegetables.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,461 admin

    Ditto to everything everyone else said. I never use a brine for kraut - just chop the cabbage, salt it and work it in with my hands. One trick though, is to use about 1/4th cup of kraut juice from a previous batch, brine from fermented pickles, plain kombucha or whey. That cuts ferment time and protects against molds, because after you pack everything down you just pour it over the top. My kraut is usually ready in 10 days without the starter or 7 days with - of course, it improves over time... but, sometimes I like young, sweet/sour, fresh kraut and will put it in the fridge then to hold it at that stage longer.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    I have made kraut before but there isn't enough time in the day to accomplish everything I would like to (or enough room in my kitchen for all my projects) so I buy my kraut from a local farmer in my area. Its absolutely delicious and I know where it is grown and fermented so the next best thing to my own. So my comments are on the types that she makes. Once you get your recipe to where you want it and are ready to start experimenting try some of these flavours.

    Russian Red - Made with Red Russian Garlic and Red Cabbage

    Double Dill - This one is one of my favourites

    Bavarian Horseradish - With a bit of a kick

    Ragged Jack - Also a favourite, this one has small pieces of kale in the mix.

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    We made ours just like everyone else suggested, but we let ours age more like a month. We found the longer it sat the sweeter it seemed to get. We did have to add some water to keep it submerged and we used a 1 gallon glass dill pickle jar, which didn’t impart any dill flavor. Man was it good! After eating a good portion of the gallon myself, I am not pleased with any store bought versions.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you so much for all your encouragement and advice! I have to admit that I'm a little scared I'll create some crazy poison. The one thing that I did not do was add brine, and I probably should have to completely cover the cabbage. I did get some glass weights, and used one.

    Here's a question - how important is room temperature? I tend not to use the window air conditioner in the summer, just a window fan if I can tolerate it. So in the summer, the house is considered hot by many of my friends. At 80 degrees inside, I will turn on the air for a while. And in the winter, I keep it about 68 degrees since I'd rather bundle up than run the heat. I wondered if my jar got too hot this summer? And if I will have any luck now that the kitchen is cooler...

  • Jannajo
    Jannajo Posts: 173 ✭✭✭

    A few things do come up here, yes? Grey matter at the top? Metal touching? Problems can arise...thank God there r answers out there!

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @Mary Linda Bittle brine is only as important as you will reduce your losses at the top of the jar. All you have to remember is anything below the water line should remain totally safe. Anything above, throw it out anyway. It may be good but why risk it?

    If you use the wait and allow it to make its own brine method you may find at first you don't have enough brine. Usually within the first 12 hours of jarring you will notice the juice level is going up and you didn't do anything to help it. But if you have a long way to get to the top you need to add something. Some people just use water, some use fresh kombucha or kefir. Others make the brine.

    As for temperatures, yes you can still make it in the winter. My house is proof of that. My description is like yours in the winter. Who needs heat when you can just add another layer of clothes. I hate "canned" heat blowing all over me anyway. So the other difference is go ahead and prepare it as per directions above just know it is going to take longer to ferment. Lots of people say once you want it to stop fermenting you put it in the refrigerator. That is incorrect. It does not stop...it just slows down. So make it but don't worry about checking it so often.

    Mine, I usually like my flavor at about 5-6 days in the Summer (no air conditioning in my house). In the winter though, that is usually during the 2-3 week timeframe until it reaches that stage of flavor.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @greyfurball thank you so much for the detailed instructions and the encouragement! I will give it another try soon, and let you know how it goes.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,377 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I make kimchi the same way. My daughters love it but don't care much for sauerkraut. I was apprehensive the first couple times I made it as well. Now we ferment all kinds of things. Two summers ago someone gave me a ton of tomatillos so we made large jars of fermented salsa. It was so good we put it on everything.