Frequently Asked Questions about Lacto-fermented Sauerkraut

– Posted in: Fermentation
Answers to all your sauerkraut questions. |

Find out more about health benefits, customs, fermentation and just fun stuff associated with sauerkraut.

What is lacto-fermented sauerkraut? Does eating sauerkraut give you gas? What probiotic strains are found in sauerkraut? Why is vinegar not used when making sauerkraut? And more.

What is lacto-fermented sauerkraut

Why should I eat sauerkraut and other fermented foods?

How long will my jar of sauerkraut keep?

What is the difference between my naturally-fermented sauerkraut and sauerkrauts found on store shelves?

What do I need to look for when buying sauerkraut?

How much sauerkraut should I eat?

Does eating sauerkraut give you gas?

What foods should I eat sauerkraut with?

Is it a good idea to can my sauerkraut?

Why is vinegar not used when making sauerkraut?

Why do you not recommend using whey?

What has more beneficial bacteria, pill or sauerkraut?

Who invented sauerkraut?

Is a starter culture necessary for making sauerkraut?

Did I miss something? Please share your question below.

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  • Debbie

    I started my kraut in a large plastic bucket 5 days ago, my grandsons came over and I think they got curious and disturbed the batch it is no longer bubbling and I wonder if I add salt or more brine could I keep it going – no slime only greenish water – very few bubbles. 12 1/2 lbs going.

    • Hi Debbie,
      I don’t think your curious grandsons did any harm. The bubbling action usually peaks around day 3 so you won’t see many bubbles after that.

      Just make sure your fermentation is kept below the brine and all should be fine. No need to add brine if the mixture is below the brine. No need to add salt if you kept your ratios correct (5 pounds cabbage mixture – 3 tablespoons salt).

      Wow, 12 pounds fermenting! I love big batches. Make sure to share it with your grandsons! – Holly

  • Jeanne Fung

    do I need to wash the cabbage before salting it?

    • Hi Jeanne, No. Just clean off any dirty outside leaves. Happy Fermenting.

      • Jeanne Fung

        thanks for your reply

  • amanda

    Hi Holly, can I use chinese cabbage instead of the green cabbage?

    • Yes, any cabbage works fine. Since Chinese cabbage is not as thick as green cabbage, you might not need to ferment it as long. You’ll see that Chinese cabbage is commonly used to make Kimchi.

      • amanda

        that’s great, thanks Holly. I’ve made a batch…. fingers crossed I got it right!

  • Christine Straight

    I got a #2 crock for Christmas as I have been wanting to make sauerkraut for some mother was from Austria and I grew up eating LOTS of it and loved it and have to say was rarely ever I’ll! Anyway have a question about my first batch…it has been in the crock for one month…seems fine…tastes nice and saur but I never noticed it “working”. No bubbling, overflowing…nothing…it just sat there very quietly….so did it actually ferment? I guess I was expecting it to ” do” something….please advise…thanks. Christine

    • Bubbles and other “fermentation” signs can be elusive at times. If you fermented on the cooler end, you might have missed them. Ferments are slower the cooler you go. Tasting nice and sour is a good sign.

      The other concern would be if you used way too much salt and slowed fermentation way down, but then you wouldn’t have the sour taste. Enjoy it! And… look for my recipe post at the end of this week. All about fermenting in a crock.

      • Christine Straight

        Thank you , will watch for it!

  • Snoofer

    Hi Holly, thank you so much for your advice and hand holding last week. My two batches came out great! Although I had a lot of air bubbles guess all the good bacteria compensated and I had no mold at all. Will make a fresh batch soon as the current jars are disappearing rapidly. Yum! Jody

    • Excellent!
      Air bubbles are good = carbon dioxide created by good bacteria to keep oxygen out of your jar. Enjoy.

  • Annie

    Holly, I just made my first two quart jars of sauerkraut using the Nourishing Traditions recipe calling for whey, which I already had. But then I just discovered YOUR site! Anyway , using NT recipe, I fermented for 3 days and decided to open because the lids were puffing up a lot!!! Opened them and they were bubbling BUT also had an unpleasant odor. Not sure how to describe it but may be like from the bathroom. Ha. My husband said he thought it smelled like ammonia as mentioned by you. The sauerkraut itself smells great and there is no slime but there is a little white foam left around the very top of the jar. No mold, no coloring, brine is clear. When I first opened the jars the smell came rolling out and went several feet and then dissipated. Do you think it is safe to eat? If so, do I refrigerate it at this point?

    • Hello Annie, The first batch of sauerkraut I ever made was with the Nourishing Traditions recipe. Sally Fallon was one of the first to put together such a book and we’ve learned so much since then. We all start somewhere.

      Cabbage and other vegetables come with plenty of bacteria to make fermentation happen so many no longer find the whey necessary. Whey introduces dairy bacteria and can speed up the fermentation process and interfere with the necessary stages of bacteria and the work they do. This would account for the smells you noticed.

      Since you say all smells fine and you see no molds, I would say it is good to eat. You can let it ferment for 1-2 weeks total and then put it in the fridge. Meanwhile, grab my recipe and try a new batch. You’ll be amazed at the difference in flavor without the whey bacteria interfering.

  • Nancy

    Holly, Thank you so much for this easy sauerkraut recipe. I love the easiness of it. My question is: All went well with my 2 batches of sauerkraut. But, my first batch is now in the refrigerator and there is no more liquid in it. It seems to absorbed all the liquid. I didn’t take any of the brine out, but it is gone. What should I do now?

    • Hello Nancy, You have encountered the case of the disappearing brine. In the cold of the fridge, it gets pulled back into the cabbage. Two choices. One, leave it be. It is fine and will last for up to a year. Two, mix up and pour in some brine. Will dilute the flavors a bit – which is why I stopped doing this and also I had to keep adding more brine. Use 1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water.

      • Nancy

        I opt to “leave it be”. I am okay with that, but thought I should check with you to be sure. Thanks for the reply. YOU are APPRECIATED!