Sauerkraut| Balanced Bites

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  1. so excited to make this! im polish, so you can imagine how much i love my sauerkraut! what kind of jars do you recommend using for storing/fermenting the cabbage?

    1. whoops, just kidding. i was so excited to read the recipe that i skipped right over the beginning where you mentioned what jars to use! sorry about that!

  2. Once you’ve tasted it, if you’re letting it ferment longer, do you put the cabbage leaf and weight back on and refill the water to cover? Thanks!

  3. What size are the jars in (mili) liter?? And do i put a lid on too while fermenting or not?? Looking forward to try, Monifah from Denmark

  4. I can’t wait to try this! When you say to check it after one week and then let it go at least 2 weeks, is that 2 additional weeks or 2 weeks total, including the first week?

    Thanks!

  5. Sounds great! Waiting for answers to the question about replacing the cabbage leavs and weight for the second week. I would think it should be replaced but it is clear. Thanks for the recipe. I tried to make some a while back but didn’t watch it close enough….not a good thing.

    1. Yes, I replace the leaves and the weights – whatever I need to do to keep all the veggies underwater. Sometimes the extra leaf isn’t necessary anymore- but usually the weight is.

      1. Do you have a picture of the set up after the outer leaf and weight are in place? I’m a little confused as to what that might look like. Thanks!

  6. It looks like a purple science project here, am making the red cabbage kraut as our local farmer had some nice ones to pick from :o). question is if after i have removed the leaf from the top, do i put something else on or do i just leave it like that. I have one leaf on top now and a glass jar filled with water on top. Can’t wait! Can the pot be moved or is it super imporatnat that it stays still???

    Cn you just imagine the sauerkrut revolution you started in kitchens all over the world?!! Hahaha..

      1. It doesn’t matter if you use a weight or not as long as what you’re doing keeps everything under the water line. I move them around now and then when I am testing them, fixing them, etc. Just make sure anything that touches the kraut is clean – I don’t think it’s as delicate as we think, but it’s good to keep any extra bacteria out.

  7. I can’t wait to make my own kraut! This sounds wonderful, espeically with some spice. After you add the leaf/weight, do you cap the jars or do they need to be able to breathe? Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Hi Diane,
    How important is it to keep the jars in cool temperatures? I don’t have a basement or garage and have always heard that a good ferment needs to be kept in a cool, dark place. How would regular room temperature affect the final product?
    Thanks,
    Jill

    1. I think it’s fine to put it in a cabinet that’s room temperature. I don’t really think it has to be so exact. In thinking about how my great grandmother would have done it, perhaps a barrel would go in the basement for a while, but I wouldn’t stress too much over it.

  9. Hi Diane, Loving the look of these recipes. I’m a huge Kraut fan – yummo. Question – why would Kraut make my someone’s mouth (lips, throat, hard palate tongue) itch, when raw and cooked cabbage doesn’t? I’ve been adding in more Raw Kraut after listening to you and Liz extolling the virtues, but definitely get itchy mouth and drippy nose… Should I stop eating it?!

    Thanks,

    Gail

  10. Hi, just made my first batch!! Just wondering, I’m worried that I may have added a touch too much salt. When it is all done if I find it too salty can I rinse it as needed and still get the health benifits?
    Thanks for all your great information!
    Melaine

  11. Can we warm up the Kraut? or would this defeat the purpose? I know many Europeans warm it up with onions and bacon… yum?

  12. Hallo Diane.
    We have just made our first batch of sauerkraut. Have been eating a tin variety from Belgium, which I started after reading your blog about it being a probiotic. Seems to to have worked.
    Cheers

  13. i think you should do a video post showing how to make this! i tried making it tonight, and was really unsure if i was doing it right or not. lets keep our fingers crossed!

    1. There are lots of videos on the web for making cultured veggies, dairy, etc.
      Here’s one that is from a blogger whom I trust – http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/video-making-sauerkraut/
      I’ve been fermenting for years and if I can do it anyone can.
      Also, I use Pickl-it jars at Pickl-it.com. I highly recommend them – they’re foolproof. I have no financial interest in this product, although I do know the owners of the company and they really “get” the whole fermenting thing, science and all.

    2. @scott. I wasn’t sure how to get the water out of the cabbage, so I watched the video link you provided. Now I have even more questions. The video says you put the cover on right away and only let it stay out for 2-3 days. The recipe on this page says no cover and let stand for 2 weeks???

      @Diane. This is why I have not tried it before, too many ways to make and I don’t know if I am doing it correctly. What is it, 2 days or 2 weeks? Cover or uncovered?

      Thanks.

      1. I just don’t think you need to overcomplicate it or over think it… just keep the veggies under the water line and keep anything from touching air except the water line. I haven’t found it to be that tricky/delicate- just try it and don’t be scared.

  14. I left the lid on the first week… Will it still be good? I didn’t read far enough down in the comments… Got too excited to start it!

          1. I would say no. The danger with leaving the lid on is that the fermentation process can cause the container to explode. It should still turn into sauerkraut just fine. Smell/taste it!

        1. I’m a little confused about lid vs. no lid.

          An article on lacto-fermentation from the WAPF site says, “Be sure to close the jars very tightly. Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process and the presence of oxygen, once fermentation has begun, will ruin the final product.”

          Is simply keeping the vegetables submerged in water enough to keep it anaerobic?

          Thanks!

          1. I think it will. I was taught this method without a lid as the air is good but not touching the vegetables, only the water.

          2. I thought lacto-fermentation is with the addition of whey (liquid drained from dripped yogurt). I’ve tried this method, it makes the resulting sauerkraut more “fizzy”, a nice change (my opinion).

            I do “lid” (very loosely) my kraut so that fluid can run out if needed, which it does on occaision IF I do not leave enough space above the water line for the liquid to fill as fermentation time progresses. So using a tall glass bottle to allow a lot of space above the water line is key for those not wanting excessive fluid to run over and to be able to lid loosely (if you are lid phobic… just make sure your “lid” is a sterilized safe material… a glass plate works.

            The glass pinch bowl type “weight” can be filled with with a filtered water/salt brine for topping those cabbage leaves to help keep kraut submerged. I also use that glass weight as a hammer to pound the cabbage to easily get the watering action happening.

            I have read to not use metal bowls, utensils, not sure if truely nec.

  15. Diane, why is there a white layer around the top?? It’s not fungus, or at least not the mouldy/hairy kind cause have removed that before.. Did I do something wrong?? Or is it because of the probiotics? It looks nasty :o/ . Has been fermenting for two weeks (tomorrow) and I have changed the leaf five days ago. Didn’t use dirty utensils or anything either..

    1. do they look like tiny, tiny air bubbles? i have the same thing around the top layer of mine as well. i think its just a natural result of the fermentation process!

  16. week 1 update: just changed the cabbage leaves and tried the kraut for the first time! tasted pretty good, definitely not “there” yet. i think i added too much salt (i added more than the recipe called for since i had a HUGE head of cabbage) but for my first time making kraut id say its been successful so far!

  17. It’s been 1 week so I was just going to sample my kraut, and it’s slimey! I read that slime indicates the presence of yeast. To taste or not to taste, that is the question!

    1. Ooh, I’m a brave girl. Didn’t smell bad so just tried it–and really it tastes a little like coleslaw. It’s really bubbling…. Will the slime go away as it develops?

        1. It’s weird. The slime isn’t a film; it’s permeated throughout. It tastes fine, not done, but edible. It looks like some people say to scrap it and some people say that it’s still edible. I wonder if it’s too cold….

          1. I think it’s really normal for there to be slime- just clean it off and replace your weight and make sure it’s all under water- add some fresh if necessary!

  18. Made the first batch and eatig it, sure beats the tin variety.Will be putting the next batch down when Iget back from New Zealand. Thanks for the recipe.

  19. Sauerkraut very dry. Family said it tasted great but dry. Should I add water to it before putting in fridge?

    Thanks!

    Holly

  20. Diane: I am so delighted to have found your website through the contest. I am making sauerkraut in a plastic (heavy) Japanese container where you have a weight on it (wind it down) I allowed the water to come out. I had placed 2 T salt and left it for 5 days. Now I have been afraid to taste but took off water and placed in refrig.

    It is okay to use plastic? (I know!) and probably didn’t wait long enough to ferment. But, was afraid it should be refrigerated. Please advise if you have any for me. Thank you and I will start following your website.
    Judy

    1. 5 days isn’t nearly long enough for it to ferment- you need at least 14 days, preferably longer. Don’t be afraid- the bacteria are the part you’re making it for! Plastic is not preferred, as you have guessed- glass or ceramic would be better.

  21. I just opened my fermenting crock and was expecting the water line to be above the stones and it wasn’t. If the vegetables aren’t submerged, does that mean that mold can get in? Do you think I should throw it away?

    1. First off, I recommend checking it daily in the beginning for that reason and adding some fresh water if necessary.

      Second, I think the top layers may need to be discarded, but it’s likely just fine underneath. This happened to one of my recent jars and I think it’s probably just fine. If you eat it once and don’t feel well, then don’t keep eating it 😉 But I do think it would be fine underneath.

      I’d lift the stone, discard some of what’s there and rinse the stone off and then replace it with some added fresh water if the kraut isn’t done.

  22. Love me some kraut!

    I personally prefer the faster lacto-fermented route using raw local whey as the culture. I’ve tried both and am curious if there is any valid nutritional difference using various methods?

    1. I’m reading up on that soon- I think this method is just easier since it only requires cabbage, salt, and time/air. I like the simplicity of it!

  23. Hi Diane!! So, I’m currently following FODMAPS to figure out what the heck is going on with my tummy. When I first saw the list of foods to eliminate, I was shocked to see my most fav cruciferous veggies on the list. Can’t a girl just have some Brussels sprouts and sauerkraut? haha So should I continue to avoid sauerkraut or does the fermentation process help my gut? Thanks for your time!

    1. I would avoid fermented FODMAPs unless eating them feels totally fine to you- which it may since a lot of the carbohydrate content in them is gone by the time you eat them, which is the irritating part for most folks. You can try the carrot approach, if the cabbage doesn’t feel great.

  24. Anyone have any advice on how to keep the fermenting smell manageable? While I don’t mind the heavy garlic smell coming from my jars, my husband is not embracing it at all. I am fermenting in my kitchen pantry… any ideas short of putting the lids on (which I know I shouldn’t do)? THANKS!!!

    1. Heather- awesome! Except… this recipe really requires a lot more than a bit of leftover cabbage to make it– anything less than about 1 head of cabbage would probably be a bit sad in a jar and after all the time you wait for it to ferment, you’d be bummed to have so little made! Just a heads up!!

  25. I’d like to try the carrot only kraut, as cabbage is not easily accessible where i live, but i have read that in order to ferment veggies you must always have either cabbage or cucumber present in the jar for the right bacteria to flourish. Is carrot an exception to this rule? Have you yourself made carrot kraut? I would love some more info!

    1. I am going to read up more on this very soon as I have several new fermenting books on their way to me! I’ll let you know, but if that’s true, cucumber would work just fine for those who don’t tolerate cabbage/FODMAPs/goitrogens.

  26. Hi Diane,

    I am a big fan of the site and the podcast. I recently tried to make my own sauerkraut. I live in hot and humid Louisiana and by the time a week pasted, I had fruit flies. I love sauerkraut (Bubbies is my fav)and buy it weekly as I have a candida overgrowth and it helps keep my gut in check but I know it would be better if I made it myself.
    Do you have any tips on how to make yummy sauerkraut without creating a nice home for fruit flies?

    Thank you for all your help!

    -Nancy

  27. We just made a batch using this recipe (no jalapenos, only cabbage) and it tastes amazing!!! Better than any of the varieties we’ve tried from the store. And cheaper. But, it DID take a lot of elbow grease to get the water out of the cabbage! I saw a YouTube video that showed using wooden spoons to mash down and “chop” at the cabbage and salt layers. That worked like a charm. Just kept at it and sure enough the water appeared. I think it took 15+ mins per jar.

    Thanks Diane for sharing this. Looking forward to trying some other veggies in there next time.

  28. I very much want to make this but it is summer now and there are fruit flies etc around and I don’t want them in my food!! What do you suggest, in regards to this? I know you can’t put lids on but can you not cover them at all (like with plastic wrap or..? thanks 🙂

    1. I don’t think it will work at all without the salt, but I could be mistaken. That said, if you are eating a whole-foods, unprocessed diet, the salt from the small portion of kraut you might eat per day is quite minimal. Salt isn’t the enemy of blood pressure… it needs to be considered in context.

      1. From what I read on the Cultures for Health website, the use of salt is primarily to prevent mold and to help the vegetables retain crispy and flavorful. They say that salt “is not strictly necessary”.

  29. I made this last night so I’ll let you know how it turns out. My father grew up on a farm so I always had this around as a kid but have not eaten sauerkraut in years. I sent him the link to the recipe, maybe he’ll give it a try too.

  30. Great lay out! love this approach… already back from the store, giving this recipe a try without the peppers. The “Seasonal fall sauerkraut” sounds good, do you have a preffered ratio of those ingredients?

    Thank you so much for this!!

    1. I don’t, but none of those ingredients will be too overpowering. I would say not more than maybe 1-2Tbsp of the seeds per large head of cabbage though. Eyeball it – my best advice. I haven’t posted new kraut recipes because I’m still tinkering with my own recipes, and then it takes me a while to get through my batches even if I don’t think they’re perfectly seasoned… because I still eat them anyway 😉

  31. Love this!! Got here from the “Paleo on a Budget” post… This is definitely easier on the pocket than the $6.00/package of hippie-kraut at the local food co-op. Also rewarding to have something so simple come out SO delicious.

    Can’t wait to get creative and try out different variations with fall (never would have thought of putting apples or raisins in there) – thanks for the recipe and the ideas!!

  32. I was wondering if it’s okay to drain the water after fermenting is done in two weeks? Or is it necessary to keep the water in jar?

  33. I made the garlic and the regular before and love the recipes. I eat it cold (raw). I was wondering though… can I cook it to eat with a meal? Will it still have the same probiotic properties?

  34. Uh oh, I made the mistake of putting the lids on my jars…is this batch ruined? I tried some of the kraut (after 2 weeks) and it tasted sour but now my stomach is killing me. Should I throw away this batch or can I salvage it somehow? Thanks!

  35. I fermented carrots a week ago and opened up the jar to skim the “scum” off the top. However, the carrots had an alcoholic smell to them rather than a sour one. Why is this so? Are they still safe to consume?

    Thanks!

    1. I don’t recommend closing them, but rather the method noted above! They may also not smell just right until later in the process. Again, however, I wouldn’t close them! re- read the instructions above!

  36. Hi Diane,

    I’m starting the Auto-immune plan from Practical Paleo and have just purchased some Raw organic unpasturized Sauerkraut and love it! When I tried to make it myself several months ago, I don’t think I let it ferment for long enough which could be why is smelt ‘worse’ than properly fermented kraut and tasted awful. (The brand I purchased ferments there Karut for 4 weeks minimum,. Lactobacillus plantarum takes 15 days to develop and Lactobacillus pentoaceticus ( L.brevis) 3 weeks…

    If I make 2 or 3 jars of this, after 3-4 weeks of fermentation, should I cap them all and store them all in the fridge? Is this how you do it when making several batches so that you don’t run out?

    Thanks for your help, looking forward to tomorrow’s podcast!

    Nathan

  37. I’m currently ongoting my first attempt at Sauerkraut. I used Organic cabbages and a large mason jar with another jar ontop to keep the kraut down. I then covered it with a cheesecloth and topped up the water once. I’m now at week 6 and there’s very little ‘tang’. It just tastes of old cabbages and I;m not sure if it has started to brown a little bit, since it has been so long since I made it.

    I think it has gone bad :(. Comparing this to the shop bought stuff I bought, it’s not green and has no tang at all… The company I bought around 6 jars from (at £8 for a small jar!) say that they ferment their kraut for 4 weeks minimum…

    Should I keep it fermenting or throw it away? I don’t mind too much because this only cost £9 for 3 large Mason jars (6KG of cabbage), but the though of spending £20 a month on shop bought Kraut worries me!

    On the other hand, my Kombucha is doing great!

    1. It shouldn’t take more than 2 weeks to ferment. Week 6 sounds too far. I wouldn’t guess more than 3 tops is needed, then it gets skimmed (topmost bits can be discarded) and refrigerated.

  38. Diane – I forgot to set aside the outer cabbage leaves. Could I substitute a piece of parchment paper or foil to cover the top of the veggies?

  39. Hi Diane,
    Do you have a different option for roasting the jalapeño? I don’t have a grill or a gas stove.
    Thanks!

  40. Diane, your recipe looks absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing. We love to make our own raw sauerkraut at home and are huge advocates for getting more probiotic foods into our diet. At EATProbiotics we also wanted to make fermented foods more easily available and so we created a line of raw sauerkraut and raw kimchi that is packed with probiotic cultures. Would love for you to check them out!

    http://www.eatprobiotics.com

  41. I have fermented sauerkraut every year. Cabbage ferments faster when it is warmer. If it’s 65 degrees it will take about 4 weeks. If it is 80 degrees that fermentation will probably be ready in 2 weeks. Actually I never make sauerkraut til fall. Before the first frosts I make about 50 lbs in a large crock. Everything has to be sterile, including the crock. And never mix it with your hands. I also do not use too much salt but add a little vinegar / water mix if there is not enough juice. This can be added at any time but I boil it and make it cool first before adding it. Also cover it with plastic wrap so it doesn’t stink or attract fruit flies. I put the wrap loosely over the top and use a rubber band or string to secure it . This keeps it from a gas building up to a pop. I can mine afterwards. 15 min. For pints and 20 min. For quarts. I don’t think this kills the probiotics because pickles are probiotic and always canned. It still is raw cabbage. I remove scum every few days, which takes a few days to show up.

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  51. Hi. I’m very new at this and I’m going to try it. I just have a question I need to confirm… While the sauerkraut is fermenting, it does NOT have a lid on it..? Thank you

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  53. Made plain raw sauerkraut. It is very bland tasting. Fermented for 2 weeks. Sure doesn’t taste like stuff from a can. Maybe longer would be better or add vinegar.

    1. You definitely don’t want to add vinegar. I am guessing one of two things went wrong… 1) not enough time – it may take longer in colder weather/locations/months or 2) not enough salt. Vinegar isn’t the solution, however. You also aren’t trying to mimic canned kraut, which is far more sour and almost like in a dull way– raw kraut will have a tangier sourness to it. Keep me posted.

  54. I hate saying this – I am just not a fan of the fermented foods! I know I might be minority! The thought of eating them makes me sick to my stomach 🙁 Are there ANY other alternatives to get the same results?

    1. Post
      Author

      Probiotic supplements, but it’s not exactly the same. I’d keep trying different ferments and paired with different things over and over until you find some you like. The thought and the smell of them aren’t the same as the taste.

  55. Thanks for the information on all the variations that you can do towards the bottom of the recipe! I definitely want to try making this recipe at home and all of the variations as well! You make it sound so simple and easy to follow.

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