Homemade fermented foods have more friendly bacteria than probiotic supplements! Boost your gut health with this easy sauerkraut recipe.
Sauerkraut is simple and easy to make. It is also one of the most powerful foods we can eat for good health. If you’re doing the GAPS diet, or planning to, sauerkraut is one of the first fermented foods that you’ll need to know how to make.
Making sauerkraut at home is also a really thrifty way to drastically improve health. Purchased probiotic supplements definitely have their place. But they can be pricey!
Consuming a lot of homemade fermented foods, which actually have many times more friendly bacteria than probiotic supplements, is a great, cost effective way to really effectively improve gut health.
Read more about what gut dysbiosis is here, and read all about sauerkraut benefits here. If you want lots of ideas for what to eat with sauerkraut, get 38 ideas here. Get my fermented beets recipe here.
For those following the GAPS diet, it’s good to know that both the solid cabbage and the brine are important. At first, the liquid will be added to foods in the beginning of the introduction diet. Later on we’ll eat the cabbage itself.
Looking for a GAPS diet meal plan? Check out GAPS to Go, my 30 day meal plan for GAPS intro here.
Look to history
Some of the healthiest traditional cultures around the world regularly consumed fermented foods, like sauerkraut. I think it’s pretty neat that many different cultures around the world have their own version of fermented cabbage.
Korean sauerkraut is kimchi, while curtido is Latin American sauerkraut. Chinese sauerkraut is hum choy. All of these versions of sauerkraut are simply combined with different vegetables and spices to achieve unique flavors.
Get creative with your own sauerkraut recipe
You can make your own variations of sauerkraut, too! I’ve experimented with adding some purple cabbage, shredded carrots, and even apple chunks to my homemade sauerkraut recipe. It’s really fun to try different things and see how it changes the look and flavor.
I will share some of my sauerkraut variations later on. But for now, let’s learn how to make this simple, two ingredient sauerkraut recipe.
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What equipment do I need?
For this simple sauerkraut recipe, you really don’t need any special fermentation equipment at all! You can use any glass jars, but my favorite for sauerkraut are half gallon wide mouth mason jars. If you’re interested in learning to ferment in a crock and are looking for one, I share my fermentation crock comparison here. Learn how to make sauerkraut in a crock here.
For lids, I like to use the white plastic mason jar lids. I just put them on loosely to allow gas to escape during the fermentation process. While the jars are sitting on the counter, I put a towel underneath them, in case any liquid bubbles up and leaks out. If you’re in the market for some fermentation lids, check out my complete fermentation lid review and comparison here.
Other than jars and lids, you really only need kitchen equipment that you most likely already have: a knife, a cutting board, a bowl, and a wooden spoon.
Cleanliness is key
Whenever you’re making fermented foods, whether that is fermented vegetables or a homemade sourdough starter, you want to make sure that your hands, utensils, containers, and work area are very, very clean. We only want beneficial bacteria growing in our ferments. Having everything as clean as possible helps to ensure that unwanted bacteria don’t grow in our sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut is one of the easiest homemade fermented foods to make. It really just involves shredding cabbage, mixing in some salt, pounding a bit, and packing it into jars. Then all it takes is time to turn cabbage and salt into delicious, probiotic sauerkraut.
For shredding the cabbage, you can either use a knife, or a food processor. Either works well. I usually end up using my food processor, since it is so fast and easy that way.
After washing your cabbage and before you shred it, be sure to take off a few whole leaves and set them aside. We’ll use these later to hold the sauerkraut down in the jar while it ferments.
Any outer leaves that have spots or just don’t look so great can be composted or fed to chickens.
How long to let it sit?
The minimum amount of time is 5-7 days, but I often let my sauerkraut sit out on the counter much longer. 6 weeks seems to be an ideal amount of time. If we don’t have any other jars of ferments we’re finishing up, we will start to eat new sauerkraut after 5-7 days, but I personally like the flavor best after it’s sat out for around 6 weeks or so.
I recommend to start tasting it after 5 -7 days, and then beyond that, go with how you like the taste. Feel free to experiment with the fermentation time and find out where you like the flavor best!
Tips for sauerkraut recipe success
Make sure that your sauerkraut is packed tightly down into the jar. You want the liquid to completely submerge the cabbage at all times. If any cabbage is exposed above the brine, it can mold. During the fermentation process, check the sauerkraut regularly and add more filtered water if the cabbage becomes exposed.
Do make sure to use filtered water, not tap water. The chlorine and other chemicals in tap water will kill the beneficial bacteria and prevent healthy fermentation from happening. We use filtered water from our Berkey water filter.
I recommend using organically grown cabbage. I’ve used conventionally grown cabbage before, but I’ve noticed that it tends to mold and not turn out as well. If I stick with organic cabbage, and follow the rest of the tips I’ve mentioned here, this sauerkraut recipe always turns out wonderfully.
If you’re looking for another delicious probiotic topping or mix in, check out my lacto fermented zucchini relish recipe here.
Just too busy?
I definitely get it! There are very busy seasons of life. And if you’re starting a new endeavor, like just beginning the GAPS diet, you might feel overwhelmed with everything you have to make. Don’t let those things stop you from regularly eating your fermented foods!
Thankfully, there are quite a few good options for live, probiotic ferments that you can buy, like this sauerkraut here. Just grab some already made ferments (make sure they’re truly raw and probiotic!), eat those, and don’t feel guilty. Make your own ferments as you have time.
Sauerkraut recipe directions
- Wash cabbage heads.
- Remove outer leaves and compost.
- Remove two more outer leaves and set aside.
- Cut into fine strips, or shred cabbage in a food processor.
- Put cabbage in a large bowl with salt.
- Mix to incorporate salt, then let sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Pound cabbage until juices start to come out.
- Pack cabbage tightly into glass jars.
- Top with a whole cabbage leaf to hold shredded cabbage down.
- If enough liquid does not rise to the top to completely cover the cabbage leaf, make a brine with 1 pint water and 1 tsp salt. Add this brine to the jar to cover the cabbage leaf.
- Allow sauerkraut to sit out at room temperature for 5-7 days before eating. Can also be left longer, for around 6 weeks, if desired.
- Store in refrigerator once you like the flavor.
Sauerkraut recipe video
Do you already enjoy eating fermented foods?
What ferments do you enjoy? Or are they something you’re just starting to add to your menu? Tell me about it in the comments!
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