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How to Make Sauerkraut

By The Nourisher

Sauerkraut, sour cabbage, is a german lacto fermented cabbage dish. In the 18th Century Captain James Cook used sauerkraut to prevent the death of his sailors from scurvy but Germany’s sauerkraut is actually a version of chinese kraut, brought to Europe by the hoards of Gengis Khan.
Raw cabbage is implicated in depressed thyroid functioning, while fermented cabbage and other vegetables provide many health benefits and should not be under estimated for their healing powers. Sally Fallon in her book, Nourishing Traditions provides some excellent instructions on the fermentation of vegetables and fruits, in addition to grains, nuts, seeds, fish and meat.

Basic Recipe for Sauerkraut

  • 1 litre glass jar with plastic lid or spring lid
  • 1 Cabbage Medium sized (1kg)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons of Kefir whey (you may use already fermented sauerkraut for an innoculant or simply add another tablespoon of salt.)
  • 1 tablespoon of carraway seeds or fresh chopped dill.

Germans have always sliced the cabbage with a specially made machine and pounded them with a wooden mortar in a large crock to bruise the cell walls.
Grate cabbage with a hand grater or process in a food processor, then mix in a large food grade plastic bucket (get them at a hardware store) with the salt and Kefir whey. Pound with a meat mallot or wooden pounder of some kind. I’ve been known to use a pick handle, a clean one of course. Pound until the juices cause suction when you pull the pounder out of the mix.

Press the mixture into a clean glass jar using a wooden spoon. Press firmly until the juice rises to the top and covers the mixture, which it will do when it is pounded enough. Leave at least one inch or more of space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion.
Cover the kraut and store the jar in a cupboard for 3-5 days (depending on the ambient temperature) before transferring to the refrigerator. The sauerkraut may be consumed after a couple of weeks, though if you allow the fermentation process to continue for a month or so in the refrigerator you will be well rewarded with a most delicious flavour. I love sauerkraut at 4 months old.

As with all fermenting, follow your nose. If it smells putrid or you have any doubts about the quality, then discard the sauerkraut and start again.

Commonly Asked Questions Answered by Sally Fallon

Question: In Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat Lose Fat, the sauerkraut instruction is to place cabbage in a tightly closed jar, with expansion room. However, in Wild Fermentation, the instruction is to add a weight (e.g., a smaller jar filled with water) to keep cabbage below liquid line. This also is the instruction with my Harsch crock (custom weights) and the practice of old-timers with board and plate (for weight). Is the cabbage (recipe with closed lid and no weights) safe from problems because of the closed lid? We noticed the shredded cabbage did expand in closed lid process, which lifted kraut above the liquid line during three days. No kahm yeast appeared, so we ate even kraut above liquid line.

Answer: There are many ways to make sauerkraut, With my method, you push down into the jar with a pounder and don’t really need weights.

Question: Young children aren’t fond of the caraway flavor. I understand caraway is a fermentation aid. Can we just add extra salt or whey instead?

Answer: there are many ways to do sauerkraut–the caraway is not necessary.

Question: Is there increased nutritional/probiotic benefit from fermenting kraut longer than three days? Does it continue to grow good properties in refrigerator, or is the ‘fridge time’ only a flavor/texture enhancement?

Answer: Hard to say, more research is needed! It will definitely get more sour if you leave it longer, so it is really a matter of taste.

A Super Hero and one of many who have realised their true calling as saviors of humanity, healers of our connection with Nature and creators of Heaven on Earth. The Nourisher's gift is the re-spiritualisation of the 'process of recreation' we call eating. Mother of three Super Heroes in training and wife to her God incarnate, The Nourisher hails from the place of feminine healing, Byron Bay, Australia. She gathers together Life Creators from all over the globe at

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COMMENTS - 18 Responses

  1. 1. Noel Victor Comley
    May 11th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Does the finished saurerkraut need to be refrigerated?

    Noel Victor Comley

  2. It will last longer if you do Noel.

  3. I am making saurerkraut for the first time.I put to much salt and it is over whelming. How can I correct this. It has been working for about 9 days. It also formed some scum on top something like vinegar will do sometimes. I removed this and the kraut smells fine. Any advice would be appericated. Thank you in advance. JOY Sims

  4. I’d add more cabbage Joy and wait another week or two if it’s too salty. It’s fine to scrape off the scum but try to make sure the cabbage is covered with juice/brine to avoid that.

  5. Joy, an old Croatian/Austrian friend of ours showed me how she makes sauerkraut recently. She said if the kraut is too salty, you can wash it. Another technique she recommended is putting a couple of whole cabbage leaves on top of the kraut before weighing it down. Then you can wash the scum off the leaves. She also puts whole cabbage leaves in the middle of the kraut and then uses them for cabbage rolls. Yum Yum.

  6. I too have added too much salt. The recipe called for 2 tsp and I put 2 tbs for 2 cups of cabbage. It has been in the crook 3 days now. Can I wash the cabbage off and start over? I used a total of 10 tbs for 2 lg heads of cabbage. Can I add another head and possibly save my brew? Thanks much!
    Gloria Striker

  7. My sister and I made saurerkraut in a crock for the first time. We have a moldey scum on the top. Is all right to skim it off, or is poinsoness.

  8. 8. gloria striker
    Oct 5th, 2008 at 3:24 am

    I wrote in August with too much salt at the beginning. Now a month later, the kraut has a wonderful taste , but still too salty. How can I salvage the finished salty end results? Can I add water to the container and store it in the fridge? Will adding water destroy some of the health benefits?

  9. I have made a big crock full of kraut I left about 5 inches of space at the top of the crock.Then put a plastic bag with water to seal the top.Two days have gone by and juce is running over.What should I do?

  10. Hi, I am looking for the harsch Crock Pot here in Australia (Sydney). Do you know of any source which might have this pickling crock?

  11. Yes! Contact Rod Thomson from Bendigo Pottery:
    They designed a 10L one as a result of popular demand.

  12. Hi I eat only raw food so the properties of sauerkraut are much needed. I was just wondering if anyone ended up importing or manufacturing sauerkraut crockpots in Australia? I live in country Western Australia so any help would be muchly appreciated!
    Kind regards

  13. Hi can anyone advise me, is it alright to make Kraut in a stainless steel container! Ian 27/03/2011

  14. most helpful , didn’t realise it was so easy.

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