5 Ingredients or Fewer

Lacto-Fermented Cabbage Sauerkraut

July  8, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves makes 1 gallon of sauerkraut
Author Notes

I started making sauerkraut about two years ago when I found a recipe and happened to have an abundance of cabbage from the garden. The first batch was great and the second not so good. I kept trying. I then came across a recipe by Michael Ruhlman where he makes a brine with a gallon of water, most recipes just add salt and expect the water the salt extrudes from the cabbage to be sufficient. I have never found that work so I have adopted the Ruhlman recipe but I use less salt than he does. I have crock that seals with a water seal and keeps unwanted cultures out so I can use less salt. It is also important to use organic cabbage so you get the micro-organisms you need and you want slow growing varieties. You can add all kinds of flavorings but I prefer to leave it simple giving me options on flavors later. This is exceptionally great in the Fall when you can make the classic Alsatian dish Charcroute Garni or just put a side of it out for your next hot dog roast. There is also lots of information on this online so just search around. —thirschfeld

What You'll Need
  • 5 heads of cabbage, or however much you want to use
  • 16 cups water, one gallon
  • 3/4 cup minus 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, I used Diamond, salts measure and weigh different that is why I say the brand
  1. Combine the water and salt and stir until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Remove the cores of the cabbage . Shred the cabbage into thin 1/8 inch slices. Pack into a crock or jar and pour the salt water over the top until it just reaches the top. Whatever vessel you chose you need to be able to keep the cabbage from floating. I generally take a piece of plastic wrap and place it on top and then put a small plate on top.
  3. Let it ferment in a cool spot for about two weeks. I check it about every 4 days to see if there is yeast on top. This needs to be removed using a clean spoon or it will cause mold.
  4. After it has fermented strain the cabbage and save the brine. Pack the cabbage into jars. Boil the brine and then let it cool and pour it back over the kraut. Then place the jars into the fridge to slow the fermentation. Joy of Canning has a recipe and they also tell you how to can it. I like having the live culture though so I don't want to can it.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Droplet
  • coffeefoodwrite
  • thirschfeld

5 Reviews

Droplet October 5, 2011
Sauerkraut was a major stample in our house when I was growing up. I've heard that some people like to put a whole beet in with the cabbage and it gives the brine a very nice color.If you have a large enough container to be able to ferment the heads whole, you can stuff the leaves later.
coffeefoodwrite July 10, 2010
Thx thirschfeld -- I'm going to try it soon. I'll keep you posted. Winnieab's pickles look great. I have saved that recipe as well, but have not gotten around to trying them yet....
coffeefoodwrite July 9, 2010
Question: how long can you keep it in the fridge after you put it in (if not canning it....)? And can you ferment it in the fridge as a cool spot or is that too cold? thx!
thirschfeld July 9, 2010
Last year I kept a batch in the fridge for 6 weeks and it was fine. I keep my fridge at about 33 degrees though. You can do smaller batches and keep it for three weeks for sure. I am thinking you need to start it fermenting at about 70 degrees and then after a week I bet you could put it in the fridge and do a slow fermentation. Again, I am new to the lacto-fermentation process and am still testing. When it is good though it is great and it is really good for you from all the science I have seen. I am waiting for my cucumbers to come in to try winnieabs pickles. I have tried this process with tarragon and a sort of Cornichon style pickle and they were OK. They are definitely works in progress and I hope to start nailing down some great recipes from others as well as my own.
coffeefoodwrite July 9, 2010
Thanks for the great recipe. I am looking forward to trying this....So nice that you have already tested it out....