How To Make Sauerkraut at home (without fancy tools)

by Cath

If you’ve been curious about fermentation and making your own ferments at home, making sauekraut is the best place to start!

Why make sauerkraut?

It’s one of the easiest ferments that you can make and it will give you the confidence to try out other ferments, like kombucha or sourdough bread.

And it’s super delicious.

Homemade sauekraut has a lovely crunch and such a delicious tangy flavor, perfect to add to dishes who need some brighten up or an addiction to a nice fresh salad.

And yes, I’m not going to lie, I love to be able to say that I made this fermented vegetable myself!

It may seem daunting but it’s very very easy to make.

You don’t need any fancy tools to make it at home and it’s super quick to prep.

It’s one of those DIYs that you don’t feel like you’re wasting your time, it delivers even with minimal effort.

You’ll have to wait a bit for it to be ready but once it’s ready, you’ll have good delicious homemade probiotic food to enjoy.

Making sauerkraut is also a great activity to do with kids!

It doesn’t involve any heat and they will love to massage the cabbage, to see it slowly transform.

But if you never ate sauerkraut, you might be wondering…

Why eat sauerkraut?

  • It’s delicious – I love the crunchy texture and the fresh and tangy flavor of sauerkraut. I like to add it to salads but also as a complement to dishes that need to brighten up
  • Good food for your gut – probiotic
  • Cheap interesting way of preparing cabbage – if you’re not fan of cabbage,

Fermenting cabbage to make it last longer

Want your vegetables to last longer? Ferment them! I try to always have a jar of sauerkraut in the fridge, it’s a great pick me up when I don’t have other vegetables to eat – I have sauerkraut that lasts a long time in the fridge and allows me to continue on my pantry challenge without going out to buy vegetables.

Plus it’s a great way to reduce food waste – why waste cabbage when you can ferment it and make it last longer?

I can buy sauerkraut, why should I make sauerkraut?

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know I advocate to make more and buy less, to reduce waste and to have the knowledge of being a bit more self-reliant.

Having said that, sauerkraut is not very cheap (maybe in Germany it is!).

If you’re eating sauerkraut for a better gut health, you should consider making it yourself. It’s really easy and can also save you a lot of money, you can make a big batch and not worry about it for months!

YES, MONTHS!

Sauerkraut keeps for a very long time and there’s no reason for you to make a batch every week. (Who has time for that?)

I am going to give you a formulation to get started to tweak according to your needs. The final recipe itself will have exact measurements and then you’ll have a happy face once you finish, like mine:

make sauerkraut me holding a jar with sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut Formula

To make sauerkraut you only need two ingredients: salt and cabbage. You can add other seasonings if you want to, but if it’s the first time you’re making it I’d stick with these two ingredients.

How much cabbage should you use?

You decide. The math will be done according to the cabbage weight which means that you can make sauerkraut with just a quarter of cabbage. This is great if you don’t know how to use up that last bit of cabbage.

How much salt should you use?

2% of the weight of the cabbage.

You need to weigh the cabbage and then do the math on how much salt you need to put in.

So for example, if you have 200gr of cabbage, 200*0.02 = 4gr of salt.

If you taste the cabbage after putting the salt, it’ll taste salty but this amount of salt it’s necessary, otherwise you’ll get mold.

Homemade sauerkraut recipe

Now that you now all the basics, let me give you a basic recipe for you to try out. Feel free to adjust the portions depending on the amount of cabbage that you have as per above.

Ingredients

  • 200gr cabbage
  • 4gr of salt

Homemade sauerkraut recipe instructions

    • Slice thinly the cabbage and add the salt. Combine it and let it sit for about 5 minutes to quick start the process.
    • After those 5 minutes, massage the cabbage with the salt and you’ll slowly see all that water release. Keep massaging it until it gets really watery.
    • Transfer the salted cabbage to a clean jar, tightly pack everything and make sure that the cabbage is submerged in water – this will ensure that you don’t get any bad bacteria into your batch.
    • Yes, it’s as simple as that!

Want to see how to make sauerkraut through a video?

I have a video just for you!

 

Homemade Sauerkraut Common Questions

cabbage

What kind of salt to use?

Table salt shouldn’t be used to make sauerkraut. It’s best for you to use sea salt. That’s what I’ve been using in my ferments without any issues. Some people swear by himalayan salt.

What kind of cabbage can I use?

I had good results with green, purple and savoy cabbage. I don’t have much access to napa cabbage but you can use it too, it’s famous to be used for sauerkraut’s cousin: kimchi.

I don’t have enough liquid to cover my cabbage, what can I do?

If you don’t have enough liquid, you should:

  • make sure there’s enough salt in the recipe – follow the 2% rule!
  • massage it more for cabbage to release more liquid
  • consider adding a bit of fresh lemon or orange juice (2-3 tablespoons).

If all of this fails, you can also add salted water, but it’ll make your sauerkraut more mushy.

Things to Make with Sauerkraut

You’ve made your delicious sauerkraut but realized that you don’t have any idea of what to do with it.

Let me give you some ideas on how to use your homemade sauerkraut.

Add it to your salad

Instead of adding vinegar or lemon juice to my salads, I add a bit of brine and 2 tablespoons of sauerkraut to give my salads that more acidic taste. It’s a good addition to a simple salad.

As a side

I like to eat plain saurkraut straight out of the jar as a side to add freshness to a dish. Think roasts or a dish full of fried food, it’s nice to have something crunchy and fresh on the side, isn’t it?

In your sandwich

As someone who loves quick meals on one of those “I’m too tired to cook” days, making a sandwich can quickly become a filling meal that takes 5 minutes. I love to add my sauerkraut made at home to these sandwiches. It’s great paired with melted cheese or with an avocado toast.

In your hamburger

An hamburger is kind of a sandwich but I feel it should be categorized differently.

Don’t have pickles to add to your hamburger? Don’t fret! Sauerkraut is a nice replacement.

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