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How Long To Ferment Sauerkraut?

Like a fine wine, sauerkraut improves with age, not only in flavor but also in the population of good bacteria. Beneficial lactic acid bacteria (LAB) multiple into the TRILLIONS as a jar of sauerkraut is fermenting! Some sources say 10 trillion bacteria in one serving size of fermented sauerkraut.

Fermentation happens in stages and takes time depending upon the vegetables you’re fermenting, the amount of salt used, and ambient room temperature.

To obtain the greatest health benefits from eating probiotic-rich sauerkraut, you’ll want to let your sauerkraut or vegetables ferment long enough to go through the three stages of fermentation at the end of which the population of various types of LAB reach their peak levels.

Let’s first cover the three stages of fermentation, followed by a few factors that impact how long it takes for these stages to unfold.

Fermentation Stages

Microscopic view of lactobacillus, the bacteria necessary for fermentation.  | MakeSauerkraut.com
A close look at lactobacillus bacteria. The bacteria that will transform your salty cabbage into tangy sauerkraut.

Stage One: Days 1-5, approx.

Salt tolerant bacteria produce carbon dioxide to transform fermentation vessel into an anaerobic environment

The first stage of fermentation starts from the moment you mix salt into your sliced cabbage and prepared vegetables.

Surprisingly, the levels of LAB are at extremely low levels in the starting ingredients—sliced cabbage, specific vegetables used in any particular batch, salt, and seasonings—which may suggest that only trace amounts of LAB are necessary to initiate fermentation. Therefore, there is no need to speed up the process by using a starter.

In this first stage of fermentation, the L. mesenteroides—the most common organisms associated with vegetables—do most of their work. They are the smallest of the three bacteria studied and are able to tolerate salty conditions.

They break down available sugars to produce lactic acid, acetic acid (vinegar), ethyl alcohol, and mannitol, all of which contribute to the characteristic flavor of high-quality sauerkraut. If the fermentation temperature is higher than 72° Fahrenheit (22° Celsius) they might not grow, which would be detrimental to the flavor of sauerkraut.

The L. mesenteroides also produce carbon dioxide (soda gas), hence the bubbles you see floating to the surface along with brine being pushed out of the jar. The carbon dioxide displaces any oxygen in the jar—or brine—to help create an anaerobic fermentation environment.

Once all the oxygen is displaced, stage two begins.

Stage Two: Days 5 to 16, approx.

Bacteria, that tolerate salt and acid, create lactic acidic, a preservative

Stage two begins around day 5, after the bacteria in stage one, have died off. The L. plantarum does most of the work for the longest time period, from day 5 to day 16. Its only job is to eat sugar and produce lactic acid.

Lactic acid acts as a preservative, supports digestion, inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, increases the bio-availability of Vitamin C, among other jobs. Ideally, you don’t want to stop the work of the lactic acid bacteria by putting your sauerkraut into cold storage before day 16.

Stage Three: Days 16 to 21, approx.

Beneficial bacteria create lactic acid for a greater flavor profile

The L. pentoaceticus (L. brevis) “finish off” the sauerkraut during days 16-21 by lowering the acid level a slight bit to 2.5-3.0% and dropping the pH to 3.1 – 3.7. Once there is no more sugar, fermentation ends.

The acidic and low pH environment of stage three only allows for the growth of good bacteria. The lactic acid development during this stage contributes greatly to the flavor profile of your batch of sauerkraut.

How Long to Ferment?

So, make it your goal to ferment for the full 3 weeks if your fermentation temperature is in the ideal range of 65-72° Fahrenheit (18–22° Celsius). This may require a bit of patience that may require some “growing into” time.

When I teach my workshops, I have people open their sauerkraut on day 7 and taste. If they like it, put it in the fridge.

Then, with the next batch they make, ferment it for two weeks. Taste and evaluate. If it is too salty, there is not enough tang or if it is too crunchy, let it ferment longer and try it in another week. This is a great way to begin to taste the development in flavor over time. Your taste buds will gradually notice subtle differences in flavor.

The best quality sauerkraut is fermented for a minimum of 14 days with 21 being even better. This time span ensures good flavor development, proper acidity level, and complete consumption of all the sugars in the cabbage.

Too short of a fermentation time robs you of SO MANY beneficial postbiotic compounds. Cabbage fermented between 14-21 days has three times more beneficial bioactive compounds than cabbage fermented in less than 14 days.

Kaitlynn, Cultured Guru

Salt Concentration, Temperature, and Vegetable Quality

There are three variables you can play with that impact the taste, texture, and tang of your sauerkraut:

  • Salt Concentration
  • Temperature
  • Vegetable Quality

I like to keep coming back to these factors when tasting my sauerkraut. Some like it salty, some like it soft, some like it crunchy. And, some want as many beneficial bacteria swarming around in their jar as possible.

Salt Concentration

2% salt concentration based upon weight of ingredients

Himalayan Pink Salt for fermentation inside wooden bowl over black background. | MakeSauerkraut.com
Himalayan pink salt used at 2% concentration

Salt is necessary for fermentation. It ensures that the beneficial bacteria grow and proliferate and that the pathogenic bacteria die off. The best quality sauerkraut is made with a 2% salt concentration, with the acceptable range being 1.5% to 2.5%.

Too little salt speeds up fermentation and might produce soft or slimy sauerkraut. Too much salt slows down fermentation and will inhibit the growth of the lactic acid bacteria, just the bacteria you need to safely preserve your sauerkraut.

To determine the correct amount of salt to add, you need to weigh your vegetables using a kitchen scale. It is advisable to also weigh your salt.

Before I understood that one tablespoon of salt could weigh differently than another tablespoon of salt, I always measured my salt—by volume—as follows:

1 tablespoon of salt (or 16 grams if weighing your salt) for 1 ¾’s pounds (28 ounces, 800 grams) cabbage and vegetables, or

3 tablespoons of salt (or 48 grams if weighing your salt) for 5 pounds (2400 grams, 2.4 kilograms) of cabbage and vegetables.

This can work if the weight for the volume of salt the tablespoon you’re using happens to be the necessary 16 grams (for an 800 gram batch of sauerkraut). I have two sets of measuring spoons in my kitchen that I use interchangeably. One measures out 16 grams of Himalayan pink salt; one 21 grams. That’s a 24% difference in weight. See why it’s important to weigh your salt?

So, to correctly determine your salt concentration, weigh your ingredients and salt. To do so, take the weight—in grams—of all the ingredients used for a particular batch of sauerkraut and multiply by 0.02. (That’s 2% converted to a decimal.)

For example, the ingredients for a typical quart (liter) batch of sauerkraut weigh 800 grams:

800 x 0.02 = 16.00. Add 16 grams of salt to your sauerkraut mixture.

When to adjust salt concentration

Salt concentration can be adjusted for fermentation temperatures as follows:

If you are fermenting at warmer household temperatures, use a salt concentration of 2.5% to slow fermentation down a bit.

If you are fermenting at cooler household temperatures, use a salt concentration of 1.5% to speed fermentation up a tad.

More on salt:

Best Salt to Use When Making Fermenting Sauerkraut

How Much Salt do I Use to Make Sauerkraut?

Salt by Weight for Delicious Sauerkraut… Batch after Batch

Temperature

Ideal 65-72 Degrees Fahrenheit (18–22 Degrees Celsius)

Cartoon illustration of blue and red temperature cylinders. | MakeSauerkraut.com

The best quality sauerkraut is produced at a temperature range of 65-72° Fahrenheit (18–22° Celsius) without more than a 5° Fahrenheit (3° Celsius) swing in temperature.

If your house is warmer than this, try fermenting for a shorter time period. If your house is cooler, then you will need to ferment for a longer time period. Or, set up a cooler environment.

Do find a place to ferment that is below 75° Fahrenheit (24° Celsius). This may require testing out different spots in your home or not fermenting during the warmer summer months. Traditionally, sauerkraut is made in the fall when temperatures are lower. In Korea, pots are buried in the ground in the fall to ensure ideal fermentation temperatures in their warmer climate.

If you have great temperature swings in your house—maybe it’s winter and you’re heating your house with a wood store—then you are continually stopping and starting the process and may end up with mushy kraut and need to look for a more stable environment.

How to adjust fermentation time based upon temperature

65° Fahrenheit (18° Celsius),  has the best flavor and color and higher vitamin C levels.

60° Fahrenheit (16° Celsius), the curing may take 6 to 8 weeks.

70 to 75° Fahrenheit (21-24° Celsius), however, also has good flavor and is ready in only a week or two.

Above 90° Fahrenheit (32° Celsius), the kraut will ferment in just seven to ten days, but most of the work will be done by homofermentative bacteria, which produce lactic acid but not acetic acid and other flavors which contribute to the complex flavor of really good sauerkraut.

Vegetable Quality

The Best Quality, Ideally Local and In Season

Blond haired woman in brown beanie and red sweater holding a big cabbage in a field. | MakeSauerkraut.com
I would be in seventh heaven if we all had such beautiful cabbage to ferment. This head of cabbage is sure to be teeming with oodles of beneficial bacteria.

Cabbage and vegetables of the highest quality will produce the best sauerkraut. More on vegetables to use for sauerkraut here.

Remember, you are feeding the bacteria that live on the cabbage. Feed them well with high-quality, ideally locally grown vegetables.

In addition, the sweeter the cabbage the higher the final quality of the sauerkraut. Remember, the lactic-acid bacteria eat the sugars (carbohydrates) in the cabbage. The sweeter it is, the more they have to eat.

Learn more about how to choose the best cabbage for sauerkraut.

In Closing: Safety, Flavor, Bacteria.

So, just how long should you ferment your sauerkraut?

Safety. For starters, ferment for a minimum of 7 days to ensure that the pH is at a safe level (below 4.0) and that enough lactic acid has been produced to consider it preserved.

Flavor. Many have a hard time waiting for three weeks with their first few jars of sauerkraut. Plus, it is rather unnerving to leave a jar of food just sitting on your counter. As you feel more comfortable inviting trillions of critters from the microbial world into your kitchen, you will be able to let it ferment for a longer time period.

To start with ferment your sauerkraut until you like the taste, texture, and tang of it! After all, you have to like it to eat it. But, do ferment it for a minimum of 7 days.

Bacteria. The purists out there will tell you the minimum time to ferment is three weeks and that is what I aim for. This three-week time period gives an opportunity for a wider spectrum of beneficial bacteria to establish themselves. Some strains of bacteria populate that jar of yours at one week and others peak at the three-week mark.

Play with it! Have fun! Realize that every batch will be different. As much as we want to control the fermentation process, really we can’t. But, go back to salt concentration, temperature, and vegetable quality when adjusting how long to ferment your sauerkraut.

And remember, your sauerkraut will continue to ferment in your refrigerator, though at a much slower rate. So, if you feel uncomfortable leaving it on your counter to ferment for 3-4 weeks, then move it to your refrigeration and forget about it for a few months. The flavor will have evolved and developed at a deeper level.

All these nitty-gritty details are covered in my photo-rich easy-peasy recipe. Check it out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

SureFire Sauerkraut... in a Jar: Learn How to in 7 Easy Steps. Little Expense. No Fuss. | MakeSauerkraut.com

242 thoughts on “How Long To Ferment Sauerkraut?”

  1. I’m eating sauerkraut I made for the first time. It’s like 18 days in. i purposely haven’t been refrigerating it because the fermenting is the POINT. I see I made a sound decision. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hello Alessandro, Enjoy the sauerkraut and all its benefits. Congratulations on your first sauerkraut.

      Once, its texture and tang is where you like it, you’ll want to put it in the fridge to almost stop fermentation. If not, it will start to get mushy and loose its nice microbial balance.

      Reply
      • Sure thanks. Didn’t know if I would ever stop fermenting. I think I’ll put in in the fridge today since its day 20.

        Reply
      • question for you! I fermented my sauerkraut for 10 days, it is not as tangy or fermented as I would like, but I was away and my husband put it in the fridge, I just got back after it being in the fridge for two days, can I take it out of the fridge to ferment it longer, or is it a done deal?

        Reply
        • Two days in a cold fridge will have slowed fermentation down to a crawl. Since you did have 10 days of fermentation – before it was put in the fridge – and a good environment was established, you can take it back out and continue to ferment it.

          Reply
  2. I just put together 6 heads, half a five gal bucket, together. it has about 5″-6″ of brine over it. I used a plastic lid that fit just right and a gal size ziplock bag of water for a weight on top. I keep cardboard over the bucket to keep dust and stuff out. It has been almost 2 weeks now and its salty but taste good! I mixed in some caraway seed just the other day. This is how my grandmother used to make it! So far it has the same smell and taste as hers did. I am a bit concerned I got a bit too much salt in there but will let it rot some more! I do clean the white foam out and keep the sides cleaned up just to keep the nastys out! the temp is between 72 and 74 F. Seems to be doing very well. Same temp as my grandmother kept it. fingers are crossed 🙂

    Reply
    • Amie, Sounds like you have it all under control and are watching things carefully. Yes, if it’s too salty, let it ferment longer. A week or two more and it should be ready to enjoy.

      Reply
  3. I couldn’t wait any more! I got into it this eve! Made brats and had some with it! YUMMMMY! just a tad salty yet but nice smell and taste. I pulled some and divided it and rinsed half then mixed it together. Was perfect. I will bet 2 weeks and its ready! I made a bunch because I will jar some up and give it away to friends! It is nice and crunchy too. Just real nice! Too bad I couldn’t post picture here! The caraway seeds flavored it nice. BUT made it cloudy, same as I remember my grandmothers mix.

    Reply
    • I know. It is hard to wait! Do take a picture, however. In the works is a world map with pins for everyone’s first jar of sauerkraut. I want a way to document my goal of Sauerkraut in Every Kitchen!

      OH! You can add a picture. You’ll see a little photo icon at the bottom of the text entry box when you hit Reply. Enjoy memories of your grandmother’s sauerkraut. Passing down through the generations.

      Reply
  4. Hi, I was wondering if I can open the jar while it is fermenting in my cupboard? Because I’m trying the taste, checking on the smell, and pressing the cabbage down inside the brine, I have opened it and resealed it for around 3-4 times in the past two weeks. When I didnt open it, I’ve also shaked the jar a bit to submerge everything in the brine a couple of times. Should I stop doing this and judge only by the looks, color etc? Is this hampering bacterial growth?
    Most articles confuuse me on whether oxygen is desired for or not, or escape of CO2, etc.! Thanks for the article!

    Reply
    • Hi Johana, Ideally I tell folks not to open it for 5-7 days to let the most important bacteria work takes place undisturbed. But we all get a little anxious. It is pretty forgiving. Taste on a weekly basis until you like the flavor and crunch. Then for future batches, ferment for that long undisturbed.

      Sauerkraut fermentation should happen without air, thus we keep the jar closed. You might want to come up with a “weight” of some sort to hold the cabbage below the brine, a large rock or small 4-ounce jelly jar as I like to use.

      Reply
  5. Holly, I have started another bucket of kraut, I am a bit concerned on this one. Its been only a few days now but it is much cooler this time of year. I heat with wood and it is usually 70-74 in here. It should go! This may be a bit long so I’m sorry.
    I did not add as much salt as last time because it was too much, trial and error, I have 6 heads that I cut up and put 2/3 cup of salt to it and it made lots of liquid pretty fast. It is set up the same exact way as before. under the liquid with that lid that fits the bucket just right. Here is whats different. A friend came over and had to sniff around with my project. Before I could stop her she put 1/4 cup of white vinegar in it!!! ARGGG! Also dumped some garlic powder in there too. I was mad!
    So far being cooler and only a few days now I dont see any foam yet and just a few bubbles like last time, There is some cloudy stuff on top like last time tho. Also I did put some of the juice from a bag of what I put in the fridge from the last batch. I was thinking it would be a starter for the LBA’s to help it get going. At this time I would like your opinion and what if anything I should do. I do have a digital PH tester I could check it with, I use it on my hydroponic water for my vegies. Dont know if it would matter tho.
    I have 2 quart size zip locks left yet out of the 10 I put away. It is NOT cooked or frozen. Just fresh in the fridge. I sure hope this next batch turns out because those two bags wont list long. I eat it almost daily. Thanks AMie :

    Reply
    • Hello Amie, The vinegar monster strikes! Help!!! is right.

      Vinegar is used commercially in sauerkraut to give it the “tangy” flavor which you can’t get when cooking and canning cabbage. Without any actual experience, my understanding is that it will kill all the beneficial bacteria that is there to work for you to make your sauerkraut. Garlic powder should not hurt – as long as it was just garlic and no other hidden nasties. The “starter” from a previous batch is OK to use.

      You could taste it over the next week or so and see if a tang develops, however with the vinegar in there, we won’t know for sure what will happen. I would recommend getting another batch started ASAP, and keep it hidden from your friend :-).

      Reply
      • OK. I will get some more and start another bucket! This time I will not let anyone touch my stuff. Its a shame tho because the first did so well! I will see what this one is doing and let you know. I will check it this weekend. Maybe there wasnt enough vintager to hurt it but just slow it down… will keep you posted!

        Reply
        • I mixed it real good first then compacted it down, didnt want any air under the lid. it makes the water brine stay over it. 🙂 when I pull the lidt to check things out I can tell the color then.

          Reply
          • Please, please, please. Weigh your cabbage. I do it in 5- pound batches, adding 3 tablespoon salt. Best of luck. And consider treating yourself to a crock with a moat. See my resource page.

          • yea ive been looking for one of them! That is what I really want to get. for now the bucket has to do. My gram used the crock with water mote. always worked good. This bucket deal is temp. It is so open to getting ruined!!

  6. going to try to post some pics!!! FYI the pink color is from the lid I use! lol. The batch is not turning pink. Also a picture of the last batch!! yummmmyyyy stuff!When I got done chopping the cabbage the bucket was full! It has compacted down to about half now!

    Reply
    • Hi Johnny, What a beautiful crock.

      Yes, wait and see if you truly did use too much salt. If you did, it will just take longer to ferment. The longer it ferments, the less salty it will taste. Best of luck.

      Reply
  7. I have a nice kraut pot with a water seal, question is I never got around to canning my kraut, it’s been in the crock for seven months, I kept the water seal full, do you think it will still be safe to eat or should I scrap this batch?

    Reply
    • Hi Steve, Sauerkraut can easily be kept for a year, so 7 months is fine, but check it out and see how it looks and smells. It will depend upon what temperature it’s been at and how much salt you used.

      On canning sauerkraut… save yourself the effort, and gain numerous health benefits, and don’t can it. Just pack it into jars and store in your refrigerator.

      Reply
  8. The temperature in my city right now is 11-28 Celcius 11 or lower at night and 24-28 in the day. Will that kind of fluctuation affect my Kraut? Also, I’d like to know can I make sauerkraut in an air-tight container? Are you supposed to let some air in or completely keep air out? I make it in a normal glass jar and put a lid on, thinking of putting a muslin cloth to let some air in. I never really got that. Let me know please. Awaiting your reply before making a batch.

    Reply
    • Hello Artemis, Ideally, you would have more stable temperatures for fermenting. Get creative in your home and see if you have an area where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate so broadly. Maybe, you can wrap your ferment in a towel or put in a soft cooler at night…

      Fermentation of sauerkraut is best done in an air-tight container. You want to keep the air out. So, go ahead and put the lid on. And, if you can find a way to hold everything below the brine, that is ideal. Follow my recipe. I cover it all there. https://www.makesauerkraut.com/sure-fire-sauerkraut-in-a-jar/
      Best of Luck and Happy Fermenting

      Reply
      • Hi Holly! Thank you for the quick response.

        But doesn’t the temperature fluctuate everywhere in the world, getting hotter in the day and colder in the night? So I suppose wrapping a wet towel would be a great idea.

        Cheers! Happy holidays.

        Reply
        • Hello Artemis, You’re welcome.

          To clarify, I’m talking indoor temperatures. Yes the temp fluctuates everywhere, it just depends on how you heat/cool your house and how much fluctuation you have indoors.

          It’s a forgiving process, but I like you to have everything possible to make it work so that fermentation is a simple repeatable process. Happy Holidays!

          Reply
  9. Is there any danger is fermenting longer? We have a pot going for just over 11 weeks now. Not on purpose, it’s just how it worked out with traveling over the holidays.

    Reply
      • Thanks for letting me know! New territory for us.

        I bet the mix of microbes changes depending on how long you go.

        Our biggest hurdle is controlling the temperature. I dream of having a root cellar or outdoor space one day, but for now, tiny apartment it is!

        Reply
      • I like long and well aged fermented food. What is the longest amount of time I can let my sauerkraut sit at the temperature of 18-21°C? Can it go up to a year or more and still be edible like wine or cheese?

        Reply
        • Hello Vincent, at 18-21° is room temperature or a bit below. I wouldn’t leave it at that temperature for a year. It would get soft and begin to break down. Test it and taste every week or so. But perhaps you can find a cooler spot, 10-12°C and then you could ferment it for longer.

          Reply
  10. My German friend tells me that no one there would eat sauerkraut that is not heated up. Doesn’t that kill all the good probiotics?

    Reply
    • Yes, you’re right. Heating sauerkraut destroys the good bacteria, which is what I want when I eat sauerkraut.

      You could still cook the recipe with some and then add additional unheated sauerkraut when serving. Best of both worlds.

      Reply
  11. I took all the kale off our plants in October. just stripped the leaves down from the stems on the living plants, so there weren’t many hard bits. I cut it up and treated it like cabbage, lacto-fermented it for six weeks until thanksgiving with just some cumin seeds and peppercorns. It was the hit of the dinner, kalekraut.

    Reply
  12. When you say put it in the fridge, do you mean just as it is, or do we drain the brine and place in a fresh jar? I have mine setup in a Kilner jar with a vacuum lock and a shot glass weighing the cabbage down and approaching the 3 week mark.

    Reply
    • Hello Ricky, Good question.

      Brine. Do NOT drain. You want as much brine as you can get. During storage, sauerkraut that is under the brine will have less loss of nutrients. If you’re wanting to reuse your Kilner jar, you can repack everything into a canning/storage jar.

      I would remove the shot glass (use in other ferments), clean up the jar and lid, label and then store.

      Reply
  13. I’m using a sauerkraut crock and airtrap to ensure an anaerobic environment during fermentation. After fermenting at room temperature for a month the sauerkraut is perfect! Now, I’d like to store the batch. What is the optimal temperature for sauerkraut storage? Also, if I use the crock for storage, do I need to keep water in the air trap to minimize oxygen and does the finished sauerkraut need to be maintained completely submerged in its brine? Thanks for the guidance! Harrison

    Reply
    • Hello Harrison, Congrats on your perfect sauerkraut!

      The ideal temperature at which to store sauerkraut is 35-38°F (2-3°C) which happens to be the typical temperature of a refrigerator. Around 38°F (3°C) degrees you won’t notice much change in the texture over a 12-month period, the typical storage length for sauerkraut. Around 45-50°F (7-10°C) you will notice your sauerkraut getting softer as the months progress.

      That’s from the STORE Step in my How to Ferment in a Crock post: https://www.makesauerkraut.com/surefire-sauerkraut-in-a-crock/#step7
      Check there for more details.

      And yes, I would keep water in the air trap if you do store the sauerkraut in your crock. When I pack my sauerkraut into jars, there’s generally enough brine to keep it covered. However, when I ferment in jars, there is not always brine covering the ferment and I do not add brine because it dilutes the flavors and all seems to be fine anyway.

      Reply
  14. Hi there, I’ve been looking at a few recipes and have noticed that some say airflow is important ans others say the sauerkraut should be sealed. Can you please clarify this? Is a kilner jar ok to ferment the cabbage in?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hello Olivia, It’s hard to know what’s right with all the conflicting advice out there. But, I’ll share my experience.

      Sauerkraut requires an anaerobic (without air) environment. So this would call for a jar with a lid to seal it. If you let air in, mold develops on the surface and the wrong bacteria take hold. No fun. My recipe takes you through the process step-by-step.

      https://www.makesauerkraut.com/sure-fire-sauerkraut-in-a-jar/

      Lots of people successfully use the Kilner style jars, though I recommend a simple mason/canning jar, saving your money for a future water-sealed fermentation crock purchase. But if you already have them, great!

      Reply
  15. I put too much salt in a particular batch of kraut, and I’m in a pickle. I’m bringing the kraut to a party (for a demo) around the three-week mark. I don’t know if it’s going to get tangy enough by then. Is there anything I can do to speed things up? I have a week’s time.

    Reply
    • Hello Jessie, Ooops! You can try moving it to a warmer location.

      Also, when you share it, try mixing it with some freshly sliced cabbage to disperse the salt. It won’t hurt for them to try the salty, less-tangy sauerkraut. It’s a learning experience for us all.

      And, you could start another batch right now, fermenting it around 68-70 and bring that as a sample too. Glad to hear you’re sharing it. It’s so much easier to turn people on to sauerkraut when they can taste the real stuff.

      Reply
  16. Hi i’ve made saurkraut successfully 3 times, this time i have a mix of red and green cabbage.8 days in testing the brine seems fine but the cabbage doesn’t have any tang whatsoever. i’m getting a little concerned this batch might not turn out.does anyone have experience using red cabbage to make saurkraut and do you have to do anything differently? also can i reboot this batch by adding more brine made from water and salt? any advice would be greatly appreciated.BTW Holly i’ve read a few online articles on making saurkraut and your webpage is by far the best!

    Reply
    • Hello, Red cabbage does take a bit longer to ferment than green cabbage, so relax and give it some more time. You can try a warmer spot, though I don’t know what temperature it is at now.

      You can’t really “reboot” with more salt. The action is coming from the bacteria present and the environment you provided for them with the right amount of salt and most of that happens in the first week. But, a warmer spot will speed things up.

      Thank you for the compliment. Much appreciated. Best of luck!

      Reply
      • Thanks Holly

        Actually this batch was in my kitchen bottom cupboard which i just measured at 19C, i moved it to the top shelf yesterday which measures 21C.After testing this am 3 of the 4 jars are getting tangy, 1 still is somewhat bland even though the brine tastes perfect.The bland jar also doesn’t have as much brine as the other 3, so i poured a little in from one of the others.If this jar continues to be a bit dry can i top it off with a little brine made up with the proper ratio of salt to water?I used sea salt from Portugal this time, i’ll try and find one of your recommended salts next time.BTW home made is so great the name “saur” kraut doesn’t do it justice.We need to come up with a better name that better describes it’s wonderfulness.

        Brad

        Reply
        • Good to hear you found a warmer spot.
          Yes, feel free to top it off with brine. And, yes, I’ll take name suggestions to replace “sauer” that better describe how good this stuff is! 🙂 I find it much more “tangy” and flavorful than sour.

          Reply
          • One last question on adding brine.How important is it to keep the veggies completely submerged in brine for the whole process? I’m on day 10 now, the brine tastes perfect, sweetish with nice tang but a couple of my jars the veggies aren’t completely covered by brine.Is it ok to leave them be now or should i top them up? i don’t want to do anything that will detract from the final product .

            Thanks so much

            Brad

          • Hello Brad, Once I’m past the 7 day mark I don’t add any more brine. The brine levels move up and down with the ambient temperature and such a safe bacteria balance has already been established that all remains good. Enjoy!

  17. Hi Holly. Yesterday, I made sauerkraut for the second time. It’s been over 24 hrs, and I don’t see any bubbling activity in the jar. Everything is packed and submerged. If I get close, I can smell a faint normal sour scent. Last time, I had so much bubbling, it actually overflowed into the valve on the lid the first day. Should I give it more time? Assume it’s a failure? Please advise. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hello Sandra, Trust! It is good. You will not always see bubbles especially if it’s on the cool side. Overflowing is common at the beginning when there is lots of activity. Monitor it and if your salt ratios were close, it should ferment just fine.

      Reply
  18. Hello,
    I live in Darwin, Australia. It’s a tropical environment where the daytime temperature never gets below 30 deg Celsius (86 F) and gets as high as 35 (95 F). Night time is rarely below 25 (77 F). I started some sauerkraut but I’m thinking this is not going to be safe to do considering the high temperatures. I take it L. mesenteroides won’t grow and the sauerkraut will not be very good? Is any beneficial bacteria going to grow at all? Thanks. Rhys

    Reply
    • Hello Rhys, Yes, fermenting in a tropical environment can be a challenge. Many get creative and create a cooler environment for the sauerkraut. Just wrapping the jar in a wet towel and having a fan blow on it can help, from what I’ve read.

      I will soon but a post together for dealing with this, but until then search “fermenting in hot weather” for some tips. Even check out the beer brewing world, for they have some good ideas.

      You can do a much shorter ferment, perhaps just a week and go a tad heavy on the salt (a rounded tablespoon instead of a level one) to compensate. And, during the cool time of year for you? is when you’ll want to do most of your fermenting. Cheers.

      Reply
  19. I made some sauerkraut last summer and it is still fermenting because of my neglect. Is it still good or should I put it in the compost pile and start over. I had it in the jars that expel the gases as they build up but they have not leaked for months. What should I do?

    Reply
    • Jeanne, I think you win the award for longest ferment! Smell it?

      It should be fine though the texture may not be to your liking and it may have lost some of its nutrition. If it smells fine, give it a taste. You can decide if you like it and put it in the fridge, or dump and make some fresh stuff.

      An idea. Some make powder out of soft sauerkraut. Dehydrate and blend into a powder.

      Reply
  20. Hi,
    I just started a ferment of sauerkraut yesterday.. Just looked at it and it is slightly above the brine now and is slightly brown. Is it sill good? Should I add water to cover completely?

    Reply
    • Sally, I would find a way to hold it below the brine (A small jar works well.). The browning comes from air exposure. Do you have a lid on it?

      Push down on it with a fork and if you need more brine to cover it, mix 1 tablespoon salt with 2 cups water and pour some of this over.

      Reply
      • Ok, will try a smaller jar in top. Yes it has a lid, though if I put a jar on top the life won’t close. Does this matter?
        I also heard that metal reacts with fermentation process, is that true?
        Thanks for getting back to me!

        Reply
          • If you do decide to use metal when fermenting, never use copper or brass. They can leach into the ferment and can themselves be destroyed by the acid and salt used in the fermenting process. The use of 316 stainless steel is accepted as it is designed for saline and acid solutions and is food safe as well. COntrary to popular belief , it does not effect your ferment as all. It is used in wine and organic fermenting shops world wide.

  21. Thank you for this information! Do you ever use some brine from a previous batch to jump start your kraut? Would that achieve the baterial diversity in less time? And do you course or fine salt?

    Reply
    • Thank you Karley, I rarely have brine left over, but when I do I just pour it into the next jar of sauerkraut I’m about to eat.

      Yes, the brine would add bacteria. But don’t use too much (1/4 cup at most) because my guess is that if you speed things up too fast (like when using a starter) you can throw the process off balance. No experience with this, however.

      Fine salt. Breaks down quicker and makes the brine faster.

      Reply
  22. Hi Holly,
    I finished my first sauerkraut in a quart sized jar. I followed the recipe with carrot and ginger. I let if ferment for almost 3 weeks…just a couple days shy of that. I wanted to let it go for 4 weeks, but I saw that the brine almost gone. It tastes good, but it is kind of dry. I like it with more brine in it. I did have a lid on it, but possibly I left it too loose? Nothing was brown or moldy. It all looked good, except little brine in it. Any tips for what I did wrong?

    Reply
    • Hello Bobbi, The case of the disappearing brine. A mystery I’ve yet to solve. Everything is fine. You did nothing wrong. Some factors:

      What is used as a weight. The little jar takes up space that could be better used for brine. I’ve yet to come up with a better solution, other than purchasing weights, which I’ll be trying next.

      Ambient temperature and air pressure moves the brine up and down in the jar. You’ll see more brine when it’s warmer; less when it’s cooler.

      Press down with a fork and you should see brine rise to the surface.

      You can add brine (1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water) but I find it dilutes the flavor. Long term solution? Save your money by not buying fancy jar fermentation goodies – and making your own sauerkraut – and ferment in a water-sealed crock. Yummy and plenty of brine. Hope this helps…

      Reply
      • Great, glad to know all is well with my kraut. I did use the little jar, so that’s probably what did it. I’ll try a smaller weight next batch. I actually do have a water-sealed crock and have made bigger batches, which were yummy and lots of brine. But, I wanted to try your quart size fermenting method, so I could try smaller batches with your different recipes to see if we liked, prior to making a big batch. I really like your recipe with the carrots and ginger, so I’ll make a bigger batch of that next time. You provide a lot of great information, emails seemed to come just as I needed them in the process….thank you!!

        Reply
  23. I made several ferments ( 1st time) I opened one to taste it after 15 days. Is it OK to close the jar and let it work longer? I was afraid I may need to refrigerate immediately after opening.

    Also, when I ate 1/2 cup I had to stay near the restroom for literally hours. Is that normal?

    Reply
    • Hello Linda, Yes, it’s fine to close it back up and let it continue to ferment. It’s pretty adaptable. It continues to ferment even in the fridge, just at a much slower rate.

      Restroom runs… My guess is your body needs time to adjust. 1/2 cup is a lot for first time introduction. I would recommend sticking to just the brine – not dealing with fiber issues with the actual cabbage – for a week. Press down with a spoon and nab a teaspoon or so a few times a day, working up to a bit more. Then, after a week on brine, go likewise slowly with the actual sauerkraut. See if that gives your body time to adjust and replenish good bacteria.

      Sauerkraut is a condiment and recommended consumption is 1/4 cup 2xs a day, but… the Koreans eat a whole lot more. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  24. I live in Florida and I keep the air at 78 in my house. A spare bedroom where I keep the fermenting cabbage is about 81 degrees. I have three 1/2 gallon mason jars with airlock tops fermenting for 2 1/2 weeks. I think I put too much salt in them, first time I’m making the kraut. Is it too hot for good bacteria to grow? And how long should I let it ferment? I don’t care if it is not the right texture or taste , I will eat it regardless because I’m making it to help with leaky gut and other health problems. I just don’t want to waste my time eating it if there isn’t any good bacteria in it AND don’t want to get sick from any bad bacteria that might be in there from the too warm temperature . Any advice you have will be do greatly appreciated!!!!! Also, I just made 3 new bottles , all half gallon size with the airlock lids. Going to put in the house where temp is between 76-78. How long should I let them ferment to get decent amount of good bacteria? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • I forgot to mention that in the new batch that I just made, I put the CORRECT ratio of salt, so now I’m concerned there might not be ENOUGH salt due to the warm fermenting temperature! Please help! And all of this and the other batch are made with organic green cabbage! Expensive if I have to throw away…:-/

      Reply
      • No worries. Just shorten fermentation length, 1-2 weeks. No need to toss anything. It’s a journey and you’ll develop the intuition for fermenting in warmer weather and just know to round up a bit on the salt. Your airlock jars help to develop a greater range of healthy bacteria, so you’re off to a good start!

        Reply
        • Thank you so much for your quick reply! I have spent months researching how to make the kraut and your site here helped exponentially!!! Found the answer to almost every question I had that I could not find the answer to!!! Thank YOU for all your time and effort you spend and share on this subject!!!

          Reply
          • Hello again, Holly, I’m also in South Florida. My temp is also 78, and i use airlocks and 4oz jars. I found your website after developing mold in loose lid fermentation. Now after following your rules, the results are phenomenal. My first batch was undersalted, and brown at the top, but after 2 months, the acidity was 3.5 and the smell and taste were amazing. It appears when we follow the rules, the bacteria thrives just fine. My next attempt is gonna be 3 months. You said that the longer we ferment, the richer the culture in the jar. What’s the longest you have fermented a single batch before? How long do you suggest for optimum culture in the jar, at any temperature?

          • Phenomenal sauerkraut! I always love to hear about someone else helping bacteria thrive. Just think what they can do for us.

            Six weeks is probably the longest I’ve fermented a batch of sauerkraut in a jar. I prefer a bit of crunch. According to some research, bacteria peak at 21 days. I recommend that along with adjusting for the flavor your prefer. I have one gentleman who lives in a trailer in a warm climate and never refrigerates anything and has been pleasantly surprised how well the flavors and textures work over time. Add to the knowledge with your experiments.

    • Hello in Florida, All we know on what bacteria grows, when and at what temperatures is from a study whose findings I share below via recommendations at what temperature to ferment. I’ve read where fermenting in warm temps, 7-10 days is plenty.

      I feel you just need to shorten the time and would call the first set of jars done. To experiment, perhaps start eating one jar, store one jar and let the third jar ferment another week for comparison.

      Ideal bacteria happens at cooler temps, as far as we know. This post here covers some ideas to drop temps in warm weather: https://www.makesauerkraut.com/fermentation-tips-hot-weather/

      For long term strategy, try to do most of your fermenting in the cooler months and store extra jars – if you have room for this strategy – for consumption during the summer.

      Reply
  25. Thanks for your great informative site. I’m new to fermenting and have made my first jar. I though it was ready after 4 days and popped in the fridge. It’s not ready hahaha…… My question is, can i just pull it out of the fridge and pop it on the counter again and will the fermentation restart? Or do I leave it the fridge for 3 months? It would be such a shame to waste my first batch.

    Reply
    • Hello Annette, Congrats on your first jar. I think the easiest is to eat the jar you have and then get another jar going. You won’t see much change in the fridge after a few months. Fermentation progresses very slowly in the fridge.

      You could try “restarting” it, but my fear is that you stopped the middle set of bacteria mid-stage and I’m not sure they will restart. But, if you really don’t like 4-day old sauerkraut, you could try restarting and see what happens. It’s a journey full of lessons. Good luck on the next batch.

      Reply
  26. I water can my kraut after fermented.. Does this have any effects on the flavor? I’ve made 2 batches and they are both different fermenting times.. But not much different in taste? Any ideas? Thanks

    Reply
    • I don’t have actual experience with canning sauerkraut, but from what I’ve read, the flavor does change. You will get a range of flavors even without the canning. Each batch is different in its own special way and not an exact science no matter how much I try to make it so. 🙂

      Consider keeping some not canned. You’ll be amazed at the depth of flavor and your gut will thank you!

      Reply
        • I’ll just reiterate one of the common statements/words of advice:

          Canning sauerkraut is redundant, counterproductive and more trouble than it’s worth.

          Your kraut lasts at least a year in the fridge unopened (lol, mine lasts about a week and a half due to attrition..). Its pH should be around 4.5 at “done” and steadily dropping towards 3 over time. At 4 it’s considered “preserved” for all intents and purposes and could just as soon live in your basement/ other cool area.

          Canning requires heat which kills all of the beneficial bacteria and quite a bit of the taste and texture. The benefits of said bacteria are still being studied and objectively still questionable but the flavor difference is no contest.

          Reply
    • I also wanted to add that canning your kraut will kill all the good bacteria you’ve waited so long to have in it. It will last so long in your fridge that you don’t really need to can it. If you don’t have the space in your fridge for it all do you have the space for a second fridge, even just a mini, to keep all your ferments it?

      Reply
      • What’s a long time? By that i mean months? Weeks? Not sure how long is long.. But it will definitely save time and also not kill the bacteria..

        Reply
        • Yes, sauerkraut will last months in a fridge. And it just keeps getting better too. I’ve heard of it lasting a year, or possibly more, in the fridge. In fact I was actually talking with my dad about this earlier and he found a “lost” jar that had been in his fridge for almost a year, and had been fermented on the counter 2-3 months before being put in the fridge. He said it was the BEST sauerkraut he had ever tasted. It’s pretty traditional to make ferments when the vegetable is in season so you can eat it all year long.

          Reply
          • Yes, sauerkraut can easily last a year in the fridge. Like Jessica says, make it in the fall and eat all year until fresh cabbages are again available. I fermented and stashed 41 jars of sauerkraut in my second fridge this year. Love the idea of a mini-fridge.

  27. Hi, I did a batch for 5 weeks (forgot it was there) up in my cabinet. I used a glass French press. Worked great to keep everything under brine. The top seems a shade darker than the bottom and has a bit more funk to it. Anything to worry about? Did I leave it too long?

    Reply
    • Hello Rob, A glass french press! Now, that’s a new one for me. Would love to see of picture of it in action.

      The darker shade at the top can happen from air exposure or from fermenting at too warm of temperatures. You can always remove the top layer and all should be fine.

      For the next batch, get your salt ratios correct, and adjust fermentation length to the temperature. On the warm side 2-3 weeks, on the cool side 4-6 weeks. https://www.makesauerkraut.com/sure-fire-sauerkraut-in-a-jar/

      Reply
      • Thanks for your reply and help!!! I think you’re right about the temperature. Maybe in the basement where it’s cooler and more stable next time.

        I ended up putting it all in a bowl, mixing, and dividing the ‘kraut and brine separately to fill 2 mason jars in the fridge. I’ll see what happens over the next week. Besides pressurized jars, what should I look for if it’s bad?

        The French Press is awesome!! It keeps everything underwater without having to touch, you can PRESS it all down if need be, and it’s glass so I can see it bubbling. It’s only good for a small head but so far, I like.

        Reply
        • Rob, I would do the sniff test. If it smells nasty, toss it. If it’s off, you might also see white, creamy mold slowly develop in bits through out, but I doubt you will.

          Reply
  28. Hi ??? I’ve just made my first batch (yesterday)! How long does it take for the liquid to form? Because mine has only a little bit, should I add water or something? Also, is it possible to chop the vegetables too small? I used a food processor and wonder if it’s too small ? Thank you! ?

    Reply
    • You should have brine covering the jar as you pack it or at least within 12 hours.

      It could be due to old cabbage, which is drier due to being stored for months. You did use salt?

      You can chop too small with a food processor, but that’s more a texture issue than a brine problem.

      I would mix up a brine (1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water and pour that over the packed mixture). Go read through my teaching recipe and adjust where you can. https://www.makesauerkraut.com/sure-fire-sauerkraut-in-a-jar/

      Reply
      • Thanks Holly! Yep I used salt. I hope it’s not the cabbage, I bought it from an organic grocer so I I will check with them that it was fresh when I go back for sure! I’ve made the brine now so will see how it fairs, thanks so much ☀️

        Reply
  29. I made some kimchee and after about a week in hot weather I put it in the fridge. Now I’ve learned that longer is better…so I want to try restarting it…I don’t even have a cabbage leaf to cover it (I did make a crock with weights etc and a water seal- I’m a potter!) Can I use a lettuce leaf? I’m going to be away for 2 weeks, my son offered to refill the water seal daily…its very hot here!

    Reply
  30. Hello
    Really good information. Ive just done a batch of red cabbage and beetroot, after a day the liquid has risen quite a lot. Is this normal?
    I massaged the cabbage with the salt for a good 10 minutes so got quite a lot of juices out. But it seems like the longer I keep it it will surely overflow. Should I remove some of the liquid?

    Reply
    • Thank YOU! You can never have too much brine. It is normal and part of the fermentation process. Oops, I guess it’s too much when it overflows. You can remove some now or just wait, not disturbing anything and toss what overflows.

      Reply
  31. I just opened a jar at six weeks, and the flavor is incredible. I would even say luxurious, and this is cabbage I’m describing. My recipe included caraway seeds, juniper berries, new mexico red pepper, and just a splash of red boat fish sauce. I don’t know if there is any active fermentation at this stage, but it just tastes so good.

    Reply
    • So good to hear!!! And I know just what you mean. When the flavors perfectly meld and the fermentation time is just so, all is incredible! Enjoy and thanks for sharing. Loved that splash of Red Boat Fish Sauce.

      Fermentation is always active, just more so at the beginning and then all slows way down when it is put in the fridge.

      Reply
  32. Hi Holly, I’ve learned from you to ferment my sauerkraut for 4 weeks. Is it the same for all other vegetable ferments, say I wanted to ferment onions only?

    Reply
    • Similar. You’ll pour a brine over sliced onions instead. 2% which is the 1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water. I don’t have data for length on fermenting loose veges vs. sliced sauerkraut.

      My favorite book – Fermented Vegetables – recommends thicker slices for crispiness – and ferments for 7-14 days. They also state that onions are the only vegetables that lack lactic-acid bacteria so they add 1 tablespoon brine from sauerkraut, or I’ve always added the juice of a lemon or two.

      Reply
      • Thanks, Holly! What about the people that add kefir culture to the chopped or whole veggies, like green beans ferments for instance. Is this because the addition of cabbage by itself is generally enough to ferment a whole batch of vegetables due to the bacteria already present on it? And like you are saying, other veggies may not have that much lactic-acid bacteria?

        Reply
        • Cabbage, beans – and most vegetables – have enough inherent lactic-acid bacteria to not need the kefir culture. From what I’ve learned since my latest post (https://www.makesauerkraut.com/starter-cultures-not-used/) onions are the only vege w/o enough LAB. However, not all vegetables ferment well. Tomatoes – actually a fruit – has too much sugar for a great fermentation.

          We are all learning, and the addition of the kefir culture is based upon thinking the vegetable will ferment better with it.

          Reply
      • Sorry Holly, so in the onions case above, do we weigh the brine, not the onions – 1 liter brine, 20g salt. Is that correct? Unlike the cabbage where you explain we weigh the cabbage, 1kg of cabbage, 20g of salt. Please let me know if I got it right … You are the best!

        Reply
        • Good question Leo. It helps me realize what needs to be made extra clear because it can be confusing. Yes, you’ve go it. When you prepare a brine to pour over a vegetable, you prepare a specific % brine.

          For onions (and most vegetables), you need a 2% brine. So, since a liter of water weighs 1000 grams, you multiply that by .02 to equal 20g salt that gets dissolved in the water.

          Now, since onions are unique – no LAB – either ferment them by adding a starter to that brine, or pickle them instead in lemon juice.

          Reply
  33. Its kraut time again! my 5 gal bucket is doing great so far. 8 weeks now , color is light taste is real good and crunchy. JUst hope no nastys have managed to get in because when i eat this stuff I Wont know. There is no slime or bad color. WHen I pull the lid off I Hate to but skimmed a thin layer and took it off, there wasnt much white scale on top but just in case i always clean a bit off and the open rim of the edges. First bucket last year turned out great, second one got ruined, this one is doing good! yay !!! Ate some last night and it is good! it is not too salty , just mild and nice! I think it is done !! I put the caraway seed in and once they soak a few days then its time to have some yummy stuff! 🙂 AMie

    Reply
  34. I read elsewhere that you should ferment 6 weeks minimum. Maybe that’s cooler temperatures. I ferment mine at around 74-75 degrees give or take. Last year at about 5 weeks it started to develop that white yeast which ruined the taste for me. My 2 batches are at 4 weeks now. I opened up one and tried it, tasted great, crunchy, tangy, no salt flavor. I added brine to both jars a week ago. One jar started to show a little browness near the top after a week or so of fermenting, but I just left it, and it never got worse. That’s the one I tried. Do you think I should just go ahead and call it done on these batches at about 4 weeks?

    Reply
    • Hello John, At your fermentation temperatures I would say 4 weeks is plenty. The browning you started to see can be from leaving it too long or air exposure. Nothing wrong with it, just a bit lower in nutrients. Next batch, do a comparison check around 2-3 weeks. Enjoy!

      Reply
  35. Hi
    I am using (for the first time a water sealed crock). I have 2 questions
    1. how bad is it if the water around the rim isn’t topped up for say 1 day?
    2. after fermentation I planned to decant into smaller jars is this ok?
    Mark
    P.S. great site 🙂

    Reply
      • Hi Holly
        firstly wow what sauerkraut fermented for just over 4 weeks – my son and I had watering mouths decanting it into smaller jars. The only “problem” I had was the brine kept overflowing into the rim so I probably put too many veggies in. But what a success, we made your sweet garlic it is spectacular (sorry for the overenthusiasm)

        Reply
        • Overenthusiasm makes life magical. Keep it coming. Thank you for sharing. And, just so you feel better, I’ve also overfilled my water-sealed crock. Just hate to waste that space. 🙂

          Reply
  36. Hi all I am making my first batch ever. I have used Coarse sea salt I see on the ing list that it includes dextrose and potassium iodide. After a couple days of not checking ( last time I added salt water to cover the red onion that was on top ) today there is mould on top of the onion Is this bad? Should I discard and start over? I have put it in a crock and removed all of the onion. Going to cover with salt water again. Weight down with a plate on top Feeling a little perpexed!

    Reply
      • Thank you for your reply Holly. So I will continue the process to see what happens, as long as I know it is safe to consume. Next time i will use the proper salt. The crock that I am using is large and the kraut only comes up about three inches or so in it. Do i need to have a plate or something sitting directly on top or is it ok to use seran and a plate on top of that!

        Reply
  37. I just put up my first batch of kraut three days ago. I purchased a crock with a water seal and noticed today the bubbles forming in the crock. Based on what I’ve read on your site, a great resource by the way, I think all looks good so far. How do I tell when things are done. Are there any tell tale signs or is it strictly a taste test that determines when it’s time to jar. Really enjoy your site. Very informative and worthwhile read, thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge for us newbies.

    Reply
    • Hello Jeff, Glad to hear you’re making good use of a water-seal crock. They’re the best! Thank YOU for the site compliments.

      When is it done??? Experience is your best teacher there. If temps are warm 70 degrees or higher, I would check it around 2 weeks and see how you like it. If temps are cooler 65 degrees or lower. I would wait for 4 weeks, then check. Once you have a few batches under your belt, you’ll know how long to ferment it for the texture you like. I’ve had a few “overdone” batches so I try to ferment on the cooler side. Also, I find it important to have a few days at the beginning of 68-72 degrees to get a good environment established.

      Reply
  38. Hi Holly, Your site has been so helpful and I think it’s the best information anywhere! So here’s my question: I live in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and Today I want to make a few jars of sauerkraut but although the temperature outside has been around 76-78, it’s going to be in the low 80’s for the next three days or more. In the past I made sauerkraut and it turned brown and I finally figured out that it was just to warm in my house during the summer. So today is 76 in the house and i want to make it, but should I put it in the fridge until it gets cooler outside next week, and then move it to my spare room where the temp is around 73-78 depending on the day? Please advise me because I’m so desperate to eat some properly fermented kraut to help me heal my awful leaky gut condition I’ve had for probably 35 years. I’m planning on buying a small refrigerator to house all my fermented/fermenting sauerkraut.

    Reply
    • Thank you so very much for all your kind feedback. I’m happy to help. DON’T put it in the fridge. Wait until the fermentation is done. You’ll kill off the first stage of bacteria that start the fermentation process. I would just ferment for a shorter time period – check it at 5 days to see if it has some nice tang – and if not again 3 days later. Also try some of the tips here: https://www.makesauerkraut.com/fermentation-tips-hot-weather/
      Lastly, try to ferment a year’s worth during the “coolest” part of the year for you (What are the temps then?) and store that in that small fridge you’re planning on buying – a purchase you won’t regret. :-).

      Reply
  39. Hi!
    Is it necessary to continue to keep the cabbage under the brine when the sauerkraut is ready for storage in the refrigerator?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • It’s near to impossible to keep it under the brine unless you add a lot of extra brine, which adds more salt and dilutes the flavor. So… I just leave them be, enjoy and still find most jars (not beet) keep well for a good year.

      Reply
  40. I live in a pretty cool climate. I don’t think my house ever gets above 65. What about some sunlight every once in a while to boost the jar temp? I hesitate because ive heard the sun can be damaging. Will it affect the bacteria?

    Reply
    • Yes, I’ve heard the same about sunlight damaging the bacteria. You could just place a paper bag – or some other item over the jar – when placing it in sunlight.

      However, ferments are most happy at relatively consistent temperatures (not much more than a 5 degree fluctuation). And, 65 is fine to ferment at (just takes longer) IF you have the first few days closer to 68-70 when the first stage bacteria are hard at work for you. I haven’t written a post yet, but if you do some searching you’ll see the use of heating mats or what not to warm it up a bit for that first stage. Just don’t get it over 75.

      Reply
  41. Looking for tips on maintaining 65 degrees. We live in S Louisiana. In the summer we keep the AC set to about 75 degrees and in the winter we just accept our fate except on the really cold days. There are no basements here. So my first three jars are looking good in this mild weather but need some ideas for the long hot summer. Thanks.

    Reply
  42. hello there and thanks for sharing your knowledge on the topic of Sauerkraut!

    i have 2 half gallon jars that have been going a week they havent bubbled for a few days now… the flesh of the cabbage is looking somewhat translucent and i am struggling to control myself from the urge to raid the jar for a small sample … is it ok to remove a sample so i can see how it is now and have that to compare to next week and see how it eveolves? i guess i am asking if it will disrupt the ferment if I do that… or can i i take a sample and let it continue?

    thanks in advance

    Dean in alaska

    Reply
    • Don’t resist! Sample away. That’s how you learn. Some sample each day or every few days. Eventually, you’ll know how long you like to ferment and will leave future batches alone. I recommend leaving them be for at least the first 3-5 days which is when the bacteria are establishing a safe and acidic environment.

      Reply
      • all right then Thanks! i sampled and it is tasting good but, i know some more of the sauerness will develope… i am so happy this is my second batch i made a one quart of sauerkraut and one quart of kimchee in november…. so today i am ordering 2 5 liter krocks… i picked up a 20 liter krock from a thrift store an german made one, for $5 , it is brand new never been used, but that is a lot of krock… maybe when i get a lot of people who love it and want to share in the ferments!

        Best regards!

        Reply
        • A 20-liter crock? WOW! That will make a lot of sauerkraut… in due time. Does it have a moat, or is it an open crock. Good deal either way. Happy to hear of your progress. Lucky friends you have.

          Reply
          • yes its a monster! it is the real McCoy with the mote and lid and weights, a german brand looks just like the one in the back of this picture:

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/feb1a0aedba8a3aa704afc73401cedd78110593ff277b58a690720283295be6e.jpg

            I just ordered 2 – 5 liter crocks so i can rotate batches, and
            diversify, and i figure as i create addiction to the great flavors and value of home made Sauerkraut and the demand steps up amongst my friends family, casual acquaintances, and strangers on the street… the large crock will be useful then…

            here in my region of Alaska it is
            Arctic Tundra, but cabbage does quite well with our summer sunshine of up to 20 hours a day in June / July, and there is a man who has
            had great success with farming here. he is actually the one who got me
            to thinking about sauerkraut. he grows a variety of cabbage that is specially developed for fermenting into kraut… i dont know the details,
            but i bought in on it. so far so good, this current batch i added Carrots and red bell peppers. next i see Garllic, Ginger, and other goodies.
            My wife being from the philippines seems to think Papaya would be a good one to use also that have a pickled condiment called Atsara that is pickled papaya and ginger and a bunch of other stuff, i liked so much when i first went there that i brought 8 pint jars full of it back to the states…

            regards

          • Now that was a LUCKY FIND! Harsch doesn’t even make the crock anymore. It has nice thick walls and handles you can hold, though you might need to make a small dolly to move the crock around when full. I like the sound of the pickled condiment, Atsara. Enjoy the adventures ahead.

          • Indeed it was a lucky find, Kinda like i wanted a gas can, and found a whole darn fuel truck…
            some day i may need to put it into service. I have been dipping into my first half gallon jar and i see the slow change of the flavor of the Kraut, and i am feeling addicted indeed.

            Atsara recipie at this link:

            http://www.filipinofoodrecipes.org/atsara-pickled-papaya-recipe

            as with Kraut there are many variations…

            Tanks again and take care

  43. Hi so I have a question…I am using an airlock system…called the perfect pickler…it’s been on he counter almost 2 weeks now…I noticed today though that the water that was high up in the jar now seems to have evaporated and its only bearly above the cabbage…why/how did the water level lessen?? Isn’t it suppose to make more juice as time goes on? or no??

    Reply
  44. I am making sauerkraut for the first time. How do we know that Sauerkraut is fermented and can be eaten. Is brine fully exhausted when it is fully fermented ? My cabbage is still submerged in the brine.
    I have made sauerkraut in a glass jar which is too big to fit into the refrigerator. Can I shift sauerkraut to smaller jars before moving them to refrigerator? Kindly mention the precautions to be observed for doing the same if it can be done.

    Reply
    • Hello Saurabh, Congrats on entering into the world of fermentation! Much goodness ahead. Brine levels move up and down depending upon temperatures, barometric pressure and stage of fermentation. You’ll normally see the most brine during the first week. Ideally, you have brine visible during the entire fermentation period, but that can be fickle. More here: https://www.makesauerkraut.com/dry-sauerkraut-gut-shots-recipe/

      Yes, it is fine to more into smaller jars when fermentation is complete. Once in the fridge, fermentation slows way down, so there is no danger of CO2 buildup so it is fine to put the lid on tightly. Just pack it into the jar and use the above link to determine if you want to add brine or not.

      Reply
  45. Hi Holly,

    My partner and I are 7 days into making our first sauerkraut, from the article we are going to leave it another two weeks before we start eating and put it in the fridge, however, when it’s done, do we drain the liquid to store it or do we just tip/scoop it out of the brine liquid it’s currently in?

    Reply
    • Hello Elliot, That liquid is precious brine and is full of beneficial bacteria. It will most likely “disappear” anyway by the time it goes into the fridge It gets pulled back into the cabbage. Just store as is and drink any extra brine or use to make a salad dressing.

      Reply
  46. Hello 🙂 I love your site! I just made my second batch of sauerkraut. The first batch (about 5 quarts) was truly phenomenal; so delicious! My second batch (about 8 quarts) got away from me due to my work schedule, etc, so it fermented maybe 4 weeks and two days. There was no visible mold or scum, and the brine very clear and liquidy, BUT… it tastes exactly like old coleslaw! (not rotten, spoiled coleslaw, but maybe after 5 days in the fridge) It’s surprisingly not very tangy, albeit slightly. The smell isn’t particularly offensive, and the flavor isn’t horrible (if you like old cole slaw..lol). The first batch was so amazing, and this one is so different. Is it still safe to eat? I’ve had some two or three times so far and don’t seem to have gotten sick, but it’s a grim prospect to slog through 8 quarts of old coleslaw. lol 😉 Thanks so much! 🙂

    Reply
    • Phenomenal! Mouthwatering! is what we want. Old Coleslaw? No thank you!

      So… what were the fermentation temperatures on that batch? Did you get a good brine or just pour brine over it. The taste sounds like brined cabbage and not fermented which happens if it is too cool or if the cabbage is not massaged to create its own brine and instead just sits it watery brine. Let me know a few more details – how much salt, too – and we can try to figure it out from there.

      Reply
      • Hi there 🙂 The cabbage for the second (stale cole slaw) batch was super fresh and juicy, and I did indeed alternate between massaging it and lightly tamping it. It fermented between about 67-70F degrees. (same as previous batch) When I put it in the crock, I compressed it “very assertively” (lol) including weighting it down pretty heavily during fermentation. I did everything the same as the first batch, (which was amazing). The previous batch was organic cabbage, but very old and dry compared to the second batch, non-organic, but super fresh (and gorgeous;). I forgot one little change… the first batch had two little acidophilus capsules sprinkled in during the massaging time, and I added a half cup of brine because the cabbage was so old and dry, albeit organic. (I think three heads of cabbage and one bunch of collard greens) I hate to say it, but on a primal level, I’m really turned off by this second batch, and I wonder if my body is trying to tell me not to eat it? (almost like a primal instinct type of thing) Maybe it’s “off” and has pathogens in it? I’ve kind of decided that maybe I should throw it out…?

        Reply
        • Trust your gut instinct. It should not taste like coleslaw but a nice tang. Sometimes, we can’t just figure out a fickle fermentation. Put your energies into a new bath.

          Reply
          • Thank you so much for the vote of confidence to ditch it! I feel guilty throwing it away, but at the same time, it’s just off-putting on a subconscious level. 🙁 Thanks again! 🙂

  47. I think it’s too hot here in Houston to do open crock fermenting like we used to do in the basement back in WI. So I bought a water sealed fermenting crock made in Poland! It works great! Third batch using Grandmas’ instructions 1/4 cup salt per head of cabbage. And ferment for six weeks. No cheese cloth to scald! The crock holds 8 heads shredded cabbage.Outstanding flavor.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing Timothy, Great point you make on hot weather and fermenting in a sealed vs. open crock. How was the texture after 6 weeks? What temps were you fermenting at? Continue to enjoy that water-sealed crock. They really are nice!

      Reply
  48. Its my 3rd year of fermenting, and I live in California. We had 2 years of scorching heat. I knew I had to fix the constant swinging of temps. I thought to myself, “how to keep temps around 65-70 all the time?” My final solution…..small electric wine cooler!!! I now refer to it as my “cellar” Yes, it’s marvelous! I do wish it would have a setting to go warmer that 66 degrees (F), but hey, it works! A cooler ferment takes a bit longer, but tastes better. Just did a batch of kraut last night, can’t wait….Oh yeah, I always use airlocks on my mason jars. I knew it’d be safer as a newbie, but 3 years later I still always use them. Never had a bit of mold period, and I haven’t had one bad ferment…(so far) My 2 cents

    Reply
  49. I like using a very big clear glass jar because it’s fun to watch the kraut ferment right in my kitchen. The first week, it burps like crazy. “Baloop”. It’s a living thing! I feel like I am it’s mother. 🙂

    Reply
  50. I ferment my cabbage for 3 weeks ( I took a class and they recommend 3 – 4 weeks)…it is wonderful, I love it …however,t the sauerkraut is never is very sour..anyone know why?

    Reply
    • Hello Vikki, I would look at the amount of salt used (3 tablespoons for 5# of ingredients) and temperatures. If it is super cool, you may need to go longer. If you are using too much salt, it will take longer.

      Reply
      • Thank you Holly…I use 2 tablespoons salt per my recipe
        for 2 pounds of cabbage…I suspect it must be the temp..will let it ferment longer…thanks again!

        Reply
  51. I’ve been making sauerkraut successfully for over a year. Recently I had a batch that did not get all foamy as all the others had. It got sour, pH is at 2 so it fermented and it tastes fine. All the conditions (salt, temp) seem to be the same but this batch seemed to skip a step in the bacterial succession. Any ideas?

    Reply
    • Ah, the fickle nature of fermentation. Each batch will be a bit different. Quality of vegetables can vary. Slicing thickness – thinner means more cells exposed which means more lactic-acid bacteria action which makes for more foam/bubbles. And temperatures will vary throughout the year. Hope that gives you a few insights to play with.

      Reply
      • Thanks Holly. Good thoughts. Since it seems to have skipped a step. I’m not sure how long to leave it in the crock. I’m just going by taste and texture to decide when it’s done. Definitely sour!! Not sure it’s quite as tasty as other batches but like you say they are all different.

        Reply
  52. Go to medline, enter 7-9 days + saurkraut and you will find that to be the optimum period to ferment food for maximal nutrition.

    Reply
  53. One question I have –I was told by my friend who makes sauerkraut you need to stir the kraut atleast 3 x day or so ??? But that does not make sense — since the oxygen will then get in the jar. ???
    Thanks
    Evelina

    Reply
    • Stirring sauerkraut 3 x day??? I’ve never heard of that and like you, it doesn’t make sense. The fermentation of sauerkraut is anaerobic – no air please. Keep it tightly packed and have a way for gases to escape.

      Reply
    • It should be perfectly fine. Properly fermented sauerkraut can keep well beyond one year. Give it the smell test, first. Your nose will tell you if it is “off.” I don’t find that sauerkraut becomes stronger over time; just softens.

      Reply
      • by stronger i meant it has fermented more and has more probiotics.
        i had some yesterday and having digestive upset now today

        Reply
  54. Finished my first ferment a week ago and it’s almost gone because on the 7th day my kids and I started eating it and put it in the fridge. It was delicious! But I saw somewhere that after fermentation you have to wait about 10 weeks or so before you start eating it because of histamine or something like that. Is this true?

    Reply
    • Some practitioners recommend against the consumption of fermented foods if you an intolerance to histamines, supposedly 1% of the population. Leaving your ferment in the fridge for 10 weeks just gives it a bit more time to ferment – at a very slow rate – and “age” and develop further flavor. So no, there is no need to wait to eat your ferments for the rest of us folks.

      Reply
  55. I have a crock with a water sealed lid. I started a large batch of sauerkraut and then got busy. I haven’t gotten around to packing it into jars for storage, and it’s been almost 2 months since I started it. Do you think it’s still good? It looks fine, but doesn’t smell as sour as it did at 30 days. Thanks

    Reply
    • It should be just fine. You will know if it is bad by a noxious smell. Texture is what changes the most (softening) – especially in warmer weather – as the weeks go on.

      Reply
  56. I just opened up my forst two fermenting attemps. One, using a store bought water moat jar and another using a brewing airlock on a Mason jar.

    Batch one was in the store bought system. After 1 week it was just basically a salt water cure with veggies way too salty to eat. Definately too much salt in their recipe.

    The second, in the mason jar, was saurkraut. It is spectacular. I was even cheap and bought the 99 cent 1lb bags avaialable at a local discount store. I added 15 grams of pink salt for 900 grams with no additional brine(as per the internet recipe). The saurkraut is tart crunchy and addictive.

    The storage conditions for each was in the 80s. Will keep on trying. I have new batches going and will keep experimenting. I never realized it was so easy to make delicious pickled….everything.

    Reply
    • Happy to hear you hung in there and had success. Addicting! Keep on learning and fine tuning the process. I always make mine without added brine. Totally different flavor. You’ll notice a flavor shift when temperatures are a bit cooler.

      Reply
  57. After 3 days I don’t hear any bubbles coming out of my water crock 🙁 I’ve made many batches and usually by the next morning the crock is constantly gurgling. Is it possible this batch is ok or should I toss it?

    Reply
  58. I left mine on the counter since 4/29 its now 8/8, do you think it is ok? It kinda smells like a cabby ocean. The top layer is also darker than the bottom. :0/

    Reply
    • Technically, your don’t have to store sauerkraut in the fridge once you consider it done. It continues to ferment either place, though much slower in the fridge.

      The smell sounds Ok, the browning indicates a bit of oxidation. Taste it and see if you like it. Then, move it to the fridge.

      Reply
    • There are 2 grades of stainless steel: 304 and 316. Your kitchen pots are usually 304 and can corrode and pit with saline solutions – that is your sauerkraut brine. Recommended for fermentation is 316 or “marine grade.” I know some companies ferment with stainless steel but don’t know if they use 304 or the more expensive 316. Personally, I would use only the 316.

      And, you’re welcome! Glad to have a helpful site. Enjoy.

      Reply
  59. I used approx 25 lbs of shredded cabbage & 9 Tbls of salt. It’s in a crock stored at approx 70-75 degrees. How long should I let this ferment befor canning?

    Reply
    • For 25 lbs of cabbage, I would normally use 13-15 Tbls of salt. You’re fermenting in rather warm weather and low on salt so it would ferment rather quickly, I’m guessing 2 weeks. Check it at the 10-day mark and adjust from there. You don’t need to can the sauerkraut, but can store it in jars in your fridge. That way you’ll still have the beneficial bacteria.

      Reply
  60. Does cooking your kraut when it is done kill the beneficial bacteria. I want to keep it healthy but really do love cooked sausage and sauerkraut.

    Reply
    • Yes, any temps over 105 will kill of the good bacteria but you’ll still get the fiber and nutritional benefits. But, you can still make your favorite dish, just have a dollop of it raw alongside and you have the best of both worlds.

      Reply
  61. Gudday Holly
    Great site.
    Where I live in Oz it is now past the cooler months where fermenting can be done on the kitchen bench. I have a Waeco (small 12v camp fridge) which when set to its highest setting gives me 14 degrees C (57 degrees F) continuously. Is this ok and not too cold for an excellent result? I presume it will take around 2 months to complete.

    Reply
  62. My kraut has been fermenting for 8 weeks in a food safe plastic pail with a plate on top and a quart jar weighing it down towel covering pail. The white scum is still there kraut is still good , crunchy not really sour more salty I guess. I believe cabbage may be cut too thick. Any comments or suggestions. Thanks Mary PS. This is my first batch

    Reply
    • Hello Mary, You can let it continue to ferment to get it more sour. What temps is it fermenting at? You might need to find a warmer spot for it.

      The sour comes from the sugar being transformed into lactic acid. More sugar = more lactic acid = more tang. Also, thinner cuts – on the next batch – will help. Congrats on your first batch. Learn and use it to improve the next batch.

      Reply
  63. Another question I’ve started second batch in my mother old crock. I washed with warm soapy water rinsed well. No cracks or discolor. After couple days it looks like some brown something is seeping out of crock, in few places. Not leaking, almost looks like nicotine. I’ve wiped off 2x so far. Kraut smells and looks good. Any suggestions what’s going on? My mom did smoke. Really not much smell from brown stuff. Next Time I will take a pic.

    Reply
  64. Oh! I so love reading these questions and your answers, Holly! My last 2 quarts of sauerkraut were made a couple weeks ago when we’re having an unusual warm Fall spell (20-22degrees C) here in PEI. It was very warm and sunny in the house and kraut was bubbling like crazy, spilling and spilling…. even though I burped the jar daily. I put it in the fridge after a week. Too soon! It looks fine, it has no more liquid and is tasting just ok, not yummy. When I put some on my plate, the whole first floor smells like strong cabbage! So… can I put it back on the counter for another 2 weeks, now that the weather is back to Fall temperatures? Should I add brine even though that is not the best option? What do you suggest, Holly? Thank so much.

    Reply
    • Crazy how different fermentation is due to the weather. With extra warm weather, one usually shortens fermentation time – even just 10 days – or tries some of these tricks: https://www.makesauerkraut.com/fermentation-tips-hot-weather/

      You can try it back on the counter for a couple of weeks. I find stopping and starting fermentation to wreak havoc on those hard-working bacteria, but it won’t hurt to try. Since it fermented for 2 weeks and pH should be low enough, you don’t really need to add brine. It’s a toss up. Since you lost so much, I would lean towards putting some brine back in. Good Luck!

      Reply
      • Thanks Holly! Since i have 2 jars, I will experiment and take one out of the fridge and back onto counter, and leave the other in the fridge but stop eating out of it for a while and see if it mellows out. My husband finds the smell of it very offensive. It does stink. Is it because it never got to reach the other phases? I have been eating some for 3 days without any adverse effects. But it is not yummy!

        Reply
        • Good idea. Part of the offensive smell could be higher sulfur in that particular head of cabbage and also the extra-warm weather causing different bacteria to dominate. Hopefully, the next batch won’t be so smelly. You really do want to only eat sauerkraut that tastes absolutely delicious. It is not medicine… in my book. So, try again with better temps/temp control and see if you end up with scrumptious flavors.

          Reply
          • Oh Holly! I so love your answers! Thank you! Right, it is not medicine! Although it sort of felt that way a bit! The ‘good for you’ kind that is not scrumptious!!

  65. Hi Holly,
    What is your thought on using the Pickle Pipes that allow the gas to escape, but don’t let the air into the jar?
    I made a batch one week ago, using the Pickle Pipes, on the jars as lids, as so far, all is well from what I can tell.
    Just wanted your opinion.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  66. Hi Holly,
    I am from the U.S. but I live in Kherson Ukraine now. Mom always bought canned, vinegar kraut that I hated. I have a degree in Fermentation Science and the first product we fermented was sauerkraut. Your site is amazingly detailed and, from a technical perspective, completely accurate. I didn’t make sauerkraut again until just recently. They make a different version of fermented cabbage and carrots here in Ukraine. I make the more traditional German kraut with just cabbage. You can put Davis California on your map as my first batch of Kraut in 1978. If you want, you can put a pin for my first batch to actually eat in Kherson Ukraine 2016. If you are interested I can also send you the recipe for Ukrainian/Russian style квашеная капуста (fermented cabbage). I’d also be happy to send you a photo of my first batch of the winter I have in the kitchen now. It’s in the same crock I use in the summer to ferment pickles. We only get the good white cabbage for kraut from September until about April. I ferment pickles in the summer. Let me know if you want photos and recipes for that.

    Reply

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