Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Making Sauerkraut at Home

Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Making Sauerkraut at Home

Discover the joy of making your own tangy, crunchy sauerkraut at home with this simple fermentation guide.

Sauerkraut, a classic fermented food, is not just delicious but also packed with probiotics. This recipe will walk you through the process of creating your own sauerkraut using just cabbage and salt. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to craft this traditional German staple in your own kitchen!

What is Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut, which means “sour cabbage” in German, is finely sliced cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. This fermentation process not only preserves the cabbage but also creates that distinctive tangy flavor we all love. The science behind sauerkraut is fascinating – it’s a perfect example of how beneficial bacteria can transform simple ingredients into something extraordinary.

The Magic of Fermentation

When you make sauerkraut, you’re harnessing the power of lactic acid bacteria. These microscopic helpers are naturally present on the cabbage leaves. By adding salt and creating the right environment, you encourage these bacteria to thrive, converting the cabbage’s natural sugars into lactic acid. This process not only preserves the cabbage but also creates that delightful sour taste and crunchy texture.

Health Benefits of Sauerkraut

Homemade sauerkraut is not just tasty; it’s also a nutritional powerhouse. It’s rich in probiotics, which can support gut health. Fermented foods like sauerkraut may also boost your immune system and aid in digestion. Plus, it’s low in calories but high in fiber and vitamins C and K.

Essential Equipment for Sauerkraut Making

To create your own sauerkraut, you’ll need:

  • A large fermentation crock or glass Mason jars
  • Weights to keep the cabbage submerged
  • A kitchen scale for precise measurements
  • A sharp knife or mandoline for shredding cabbage
  • Airlock lids (optional but recommended)


  • 1 small head green cabbage (about 3 pounds; 1.4kg), trimmed, cored, and shredded, outer leaves reserved
  • 28g salt (3 tablespoons if using Diamond Crystal kosher salt; if using other brands, measure by weight)
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) caraway seeds or juniper berries (optional)

Step-by-Step Sauerkraut Making Process

  1. Prepare the Cabbage: Start by weighing your cabbage and calculating the salt needed (2% of cabbage weight). Shred the cabbage finely, reserving outer leaves for later use.
  2. Salt and Knead: Mix the shredded cabbage with salt in your fermentation vessel or a large bowl. Massage and squeeze the cabbage vigorously to release its natural juices. This process can take up to 4 hours, with intermittent kneading every 15 minutes.
  3. Add Spices (Optional): If desired, mix in caraway seeds or juniper berries for extra flavor.
  4. Pack and Weigh Down: Transfer the cabbage to your fermentation vessel if you haven’t already. Press it down firmly, allowing the brine to rise above the cabbage. Place the reserved outer leaves on top, then add weights to keep everything submerged.
  5. Top Up Brine: If the natural brine doesn’t cover the cabbage, prepare a 2% salt solution and add it until the cabbage is fully submerged.
  6. Seal and Store: Seal your fermentation vessel with an airlock lid if using. Place in a cool, dark spot (65-70°F is ideal) for fermentation.
  7. Monitor and Wait: Over the next few days, you’ll see bubbles forming as fermentation begins. Check occasionally, pressing the cabbage back under the brine if needed. Taste after a week to monitor progress.
  8. Enjoy Your Sauerkraut: Your sauerkraut will be ready in 3-6 weeks, depending on your taste preference. Once it reaches your desired sourness, transfer to the refrigerator where it will keep for up to 6 months.

Tips for Sauerkraut Success

  • Always keep the cabbage submerged in brine to prevent mold growth
  • If you see white mold on the surface, simply scrape it off – the sauerkraut below is still good
  • Trust your senses – if the sauerkraut smells off or looks discolored, it’s best to discard it
  • Experiment with different spices or even mix in other vegetables for variety

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy your homemade sauerkraut as a side dish, on top of hot dogs or bratwurst, in sandwiches, or as part of a charcuterie board. It also pairs wonderfully with rich, fatty meats, helping to cut through the heaviness.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 7
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 228mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 11mg 53%
Calcium 14mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 56mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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