When life gives you cabbage, you make delicious sauerkraut! Sauerkraut is a form of fermented cabbage that has been popular throughout Central Europe for hundreds of years. It’s a combination of one of the healthiest foods there is (cabbage) with one of the most time-honored food preparation methods ever used, called fermentation. If you’ve ever thought about making your own sauerkraut at home, you’re in luck! In this post, we’ll go through the simple process of how to make sauerkraut at home in a fermentation jar.
Sauerkraut is one of the most simple fermentation projects you can try because it only requires two simple ingredients: salt and cabbage. It is especially handy because you can buy cabbage any time of the year. Making sauerkraut is also easy to do with kids. Small children love the squishing and squeezing of salted cabbage. And the method is extremely forgiving if you remember just a few particulars.
In this guide, we'll take you through the steps of crafting sauerkraut in a jar. With just a few simple ingredients and a bit of patience, you'll be on your way to creating a homemade delicacy that's far superior to store-bought versions. So, let’s get started.
How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar
Making sauerkraut in a jar is a rewarding and straightforward process that allows you to enjoy the crisp, tangy flavors of homemade fermented cabbage. This ancient preservation method not only results in a delicious condiment but also provides a wealth of health benefits. Sauerkraut is rich in probiotics, which support your gut health and digestion. Plus, it's a fantastic source of essential nutrients that can boost your immune system.
Buying Your Sauerkraut and Fermentation Supplies
Feel free to use any kind of cabbage you want, from green to heirloom and everything in between. If you want to get extra fancy, you can add in other veggies, like carrots and garlic, to spice up your mix. In fact, we have a few easy sauerkraut recipes you can try once you get the hang of just cabbage:
As for the salt, you can use almost any type of salt as long as the only ingredient on the label is sodium chloride. The salt should be free of additives like iodine, which can interfere with the fermentation process and even alter the taste. Sea salt and pickling salt are both excellent options to consider.
Make Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar
- For this fermentation method, you’ll want to pick up a wide-mouth Mason jar. A simple head of cabbage will fit nicely in one-quart or two-pint jars.
- Prepare your cabbage by removing any discolored outer leaves, and then quarter your cabbage and cut out the core. Slice each quarter into small strips, somewhere between ⅛- and ¼-inch wide.
- Next, add salt to the cabbage to draw water out of it. This creates the brine that’s responsible for the fermentation process. If you end up not using enough salt in your recipe, you’ll end up with mushy and moldy sauerkraut. Too much salt, on the other hand, can slow down the fermentation process and keep the beneficial bacteria from multiplying. The magic ratio is one tablespoon of salt to 1 ¾ pounds of cabbage.
- Knead your cabbage and salt in a large bowl until you get a frothy brine flowing. Many chefs recommend kneading for a full ten minutes because if you don’t work the cabbage thoroughly, there won’t be enough brine to cover it when you transfer it to the jar. Scoop the cabbage into your jar and pack it down tightly.
- Once full, wipe the rim of the jar, place a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged, and apply the rubber gasket, fermentation lid, and airlock. Set aside in a cool place out of direct sunlight for a week to 10 days to ferment. After the allotted time has passed, open up your jar and enjoy!
- If you do not have fermentation lids for Mason jars, you can still use the lid that came with the jar. Apply the band loosely and remember to burp the lid a couple of times a day to release any gasses that build up. You will probably want to set the jar on a plate, too, in case you do have an overflow of brine.
Easiest Sauerkraut in a Jar From a Packaged Kit
This recipe is a gift for busy times. This is the jump start you need to boost your immune system, beat the sugar cravings, and kick into gear your clear-headed thinking and clean-eating resolve once more. This easy sauerkraut recipe requires just 10 minutes to make and just two store-bought ingredients.
Put them on your shopping list now and print out this recipe. Make it as soon as you get home from the store and you’ll be back on track. You’ll be eating probiotic-rich, super-food sauerkraut in just a week.
This recipe begins with a packaged “Kale Salad Kit.” These premade salad packages are sold as a complete salad in a bag. You’ll find them in the cooler section of your grocery store’s fresh produce department. At Costco, they are found in the cooler room at the back of the produce department along with baby spring green clamshell boxes, bags of baby carrots, and cello-wrapped baby spinach.
Their impressive list of precut vegetables includes kale, shredded broccoli stems, green and red cabbage, shredded Brussels sprouts, and radicchio. The actual vegetables in the bag vary depending on the availability of each ingredient, so don’t worry too much about the actual vegetable contents of the bag.
Most of these ingredients are from the same plant family as cabbage and will serve the same purpose in a sauerkraut recipe. All the vegetables are precut, shredded, or otherwise prepared in just the right sizes for sauerkraut. They will greatly reduce your time in preparing the vegetables for your homemade sauerkraut blend.
Also included in the Kale Salad Kit are two plastic envelopes of salad dressing, as well as a package of mixed cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Set aside the salad dressings for another use. You won’t use them in this recipe. You can add the dried cranberries to the sauerkraut while it’s fermenting now, or you can sprinkle the dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds on the finished sauerkraut just before serving to add crunch and sweetness.
I add a few of the cranberries to my fermenting jar for color. I reserved the majority of the cranberries and pumpkin seeds to add just before I serve the sauerkraut.
The Easiest Sauerkraut in a Jar Recipe Ever
Yield: 1 quart
- 1 packaged kale salad kit, (1 ½ pounds or 680 grams)
- 2 tablespoons Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
- 2 tablespoons culture from a successful batch of fermented vegetables (optional)
- Filtered water to top up the jar
- Empty the full bag of pre-cut vegetables into a colander. Wash under cold water, stirring the mixture to wet all sides of the vegetables and to rinse off any residual anti-browning treatments applied by the manufacturer. Drain the vegetables in the colander for a few minutes or spin the vegetables in a salad spinner to remove excess water.
- Transfer the vegetables to a 2-quart bowl. Add salt. Pound with a kraut pounder until the juices begin to flow, about three minutes. Stir in a handful of dried cranberries from the salad topping mixture in the Sweet Kale Salad Kit. Put aside the remainder of the topping mixture for later.
- Transfer the vegetables to a sanitized one-quart wide-mouth Mason jar. If you are using a fermented culture from a previous successful fermentation recipe add it now. Press down the vegetables into the jar using the kraut pounder. Top with filtered water.
- Place the Fermentools glass weight into the mouth of the jar. Place the Fermentools seal, lid, and fermentation lock in place on the top of the jar. Secure the lid with a metal canning jar ring. Set aside.
- After 24 hours you’ll see bubbles forming in the jar. Pressure will begin to rise inside the jar and this will push up the vegetables inside the jar. When the pressure drops inside the jar and the vegetables sink, the fermentation is finished. This will take four to six days, depending on your ambient temperatures.
- When the fermentation is complete, remove the Fermentools kit, including the glass weight, and cover the jar with a regular Mason jar lid. Refrigerate the jar. You can begin to eat it immediately.
- Cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, radicchio, and broccoli are superfoods that become even more powerful when they are fermented and infused with probiotic bacteria. Don’t neglect this convenient way to get more fermented food on your table.
Easy Sauerkraut in a Jar with Juniper Berries
Need to spruce up your sauerkraut recipe? Try adding juniper berries for a refreshing and aromatic, piney burst of flavor. Juniper berries contain powerful antioxidant benefits, as well as antibacterial properties; which just may be perfect for keeping away potential batch-ruining bacteria in our home ferments.
Enjoy this easy sauerkraut in a-jar variation in all your favorite recipes, including traditional ‘kraut & sausage casseroles (stirred in right before serving, of course), Reuben sandwiches, and grilled hot dogs. If you’re not into meat-based dishes, sauerkraut is great as part of a cold side salad or simply straight from the jar! As a vegetarian, I must also recommend overloading it atop a Tofurky Beer Brat. Delicious!
How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar with Juniper Berries
An Easy Sauerkraut in a Jar Recipe
- Wide-mouthed Mason jars
- A Fermentools kit for each jar
- Large bowl
- Kraut pounder or something similar (A plunger for the food processor or meat grinder works great.)
- 1 medium cabbage
- 1.5 Tb Himalayan powder salt
- 1 Tb juniper berries
1. Shred the cabbage to your preferred texture. (You may choose to slice it into long, thin strands or chop it all up finely.)
2. In a large bowl, add cabbage and salt. Stir well.
3. Begin pressing or pounding the cabbage with your hands, a wooden spoon, potato masher, etc. You will notice water being drawn out of the cabbage. This liquid will become the brine solution.
4. Stir in the juniper berries.
5. Pack the cabbage (and brine) into your Mason jar. Continue pressing the cabbage down until it is completely submerged under the brine liquid.
6. Place your glass weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged during fermentation. Screw on your lid and set up the airlock system.
7. Continue monitoring your sauerkraut to make sure it stays submerged under the brine. Feel free to add water or a 2% brine solution as needed. Taste test until you’re satisfied! (I currently prefer waiting three weeks, although the time will depend on your ambient temperature.)
*Fermentools recommends using 1.5 to 3Tb of Fermentools salt per 5lb of cabbage.
Can you do me a favor?
Once you’ve made this recipe and you’ve seen how easy it is to make, can you share this with a friend who is new to fermentation? We’d love to see more people enjoying the health benefits and convenience of making their own easy sauerkraut recipes at home.
In conclusion, making sauerkraut in a jar is a fantastic culinary journey that combines tradition, flavor, and health benefits. Whether you're a sauerkraut enthusiast or a newbie, crafting this fermented delicacy at home is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. With just a few key ingredients, some basic equipment, and a bit of time, you can create a delicious sauerkraut that suits your taste perfectly. The probiotics, nutrients, and unique taste of homemade sauerkraut are well worth the effort. So, start fermenting, and savor the tangy goodness that awaits you.
The fermentation period for sauerkraut can vary depending on your taste preferences. On average, it takes about 7-14 days. Taste your sauerkraut during this period to find the perfect balance of tanginess.
Yes, you can use glass or ceramic jars. Just make sure they are clean and free from residues to prevent unwanted bacterial growth.
Tasting your sauerkraut during fermentation is key to achieving the desired flavor. If you prefer a milder taste, ferment for a shorter time, or extend the time for a stronger tang.
Homemade sauerkraut is packed with probiotics that promote good gut health and digestion. It's also rich in essential nutrients and supports the immune system, making it a nutritious addition to your diet.
Love sauerkraut? So do we. You might like to try these other sauerkraut recipes: