Beginner's Guide to Sauerkraut

Hey there, I’m Holly Howe, a Fermentation Educator, cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. Welcome!

Whether you're 7 or 77, klutzy with a knife, or a gourmet chef, you can learn to ferment delicious sauerkraut that will have friends and family begging for more.

No mold. No mysterious nasties. No dreaded yuck. Just delicious... crunchy... tangy...

On this Start Here: Beginner's Guide to Sauerkraut page, I've gathered my most popular resources to help you get started one step at a time.

If you find yourself needing help, don't worry. I'm frequently here, ready to respond to questions and offer support. Just drop a comment, and I'll reply as soon as I can.

Let's get started.

Step 1: Purchase a Digital Scale

Fermentation is a science that unfolds best with the correct salt concentration. To determine how much salt to add, you need a digital kitchen scale, a must-have tool for fermentation success.

When I started using a digital scale for making sauerkraut, nasty-smelling batches with weird things growing on top quickly became a thing of the past. And, when I taught dozens of workshop participants and thousands of online readers how to use this tool, their fermentation success skyrocketed.

Read about the importance of a digital scale, what to look for when buying one, my favorite, and how to use it.

Shaking salt into a bowl of cabbage sitting on a scale. |

Step 2: Check Out Your Salt Options

Bowls of various types of salt on a grey backdrop. |

If you’re new to fermentation, you may not realize how important choosing the right salt can be for your success. With so many different types of salt available, it can be overwhelming to know which one to choose.

Salt is used to create the brine in which vegetables ferment. Salt pulls water out of the cabbage to create an environment where the good bacteria (mainly lactobacillus) can grow and proliferate, and the harmful bacteria can die off.

Yes, you can use white table salt, but it may contain additives that can inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria. I recommend unprocessed, mineral-rich salt.

Learn about the best salt for fermentation.

Step 3: Gather Fermentation Equipment

When first making naturally fermented sauerkraut, you need just a few fermenting supplies:

A fermentation vessel. The quart-sized (liter) jar is perfect for beginning fermenters. It allows you to make a small batch of sauerkraut, experiment with various recipes, and develop the necessary fermentation skills and intuition to troubleshoot if a batch does not turn out to the best of your liking.

See various fermentation jar options over on my Supplies page.

A fermentation weight to hold everything below the brine. One of the key factors for successful fermentation of sauerkraut and other vegetables is the use of fermentation weight to keep everything below the brine and away from air. This prevents the growth of mold and yeasts.

See various fermentation weight options over on my Supplies page.

A lid to seal your jar. Fermentation is an anaerobic process without air. Ideally, you use a lid to seal your jar to reduce the chances of molds and yeasts growing on the surface. Choices range from the metal rim and lid included when purchasing canning jars to various lids that include an airlock, one-way valve, or even a water-sealed moat.

See various fermentation lid options over on my Supplies page.

Step 4: Learn the Fermentation Steps and Process

hand pushing down sauerkraut in a jar |

How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar {The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide}


Master the art of making sauerkraut in a jar. Follow our step-by-step guide for yummy, probiotic sauerkraut and lifelong fermentation skills.

While you are waiting for equipment to show up, review How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar, Ultimate Beginner’s Guide.

This guide includes my proven tips and step-by-step photos for each step of the process.

My tangy homemade sauerkraut recipes get the stamp of approval from kids and adults alike. Over 299,752 homes have a jar of this gut-healing superfood in their fridge. Let me help you do likewise.

Review How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar {The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide}

Step 5: Buy Your Cabbage, Carrots, and Garlic

Cabbage is the star player in sauerkraut. Most cabbage varieties can be fermented. But the ordinary, green, round-headed cabbages are most often used to make sauerkraut and will give you the best results.

Here are a few buying tips for you to keep in mind when selecting your cabbage:

  • Maximize the nutrients and taste of your sauerkraut by choosing organic and fresh produce.
  • Choose cabbage heads that are firm and compact with shiny and crisp leaves.
  • Is it possible to taste a small bit? Select sweet-tasting cabbage instead of bitter-tasting cabbage. Winter cabbage, which is sown in late summer and harvested in late fall, is sweeter and results in more brine for your sauerkraut. 😋

If you’re making the Sweet Garlic Sauerkraut as demoed in my Ultimate Beginner’s Guide, you’ll also need carrots and garlic.

The carrots and garlic add flavor and moisture, which is necessary for copious brine production.

Read more about selecting the best cabbage for making sauerkraut.

Woman in cabbage field tearing outside leaf off a beautiful head of cabbage.

Step 6: Ferment Your First Jar of Sauerkraut

Return now to The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide. and start slicing cabbage.

This guide is tailored to everyone—whether you’re a young enthusiast at 7, a senior at 77, someone still mastering kitchen skills or an accomplished gourmet chef. You’re about to embark on a transformative culinary adventure that will:

  • Quickly boost your confidence in fermenting sauerkraut.
  • Make the process of enjoying this flavorful ferment feel effortless.
  • Help you unlock the myriad health benefits, including enhanced digestion.

I will hold your hand through each of the seven steps of my SureFire Sauerkraut Method.

Follow the Steps: How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar {The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide}

Step 7: Enjoy Your First Bite of Homemade Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, with its tangy and slightly salty taste, adds a unique zest and depth to various dishes, enhancing flavors by providing a contrasting sharpness that can balance richer or more savory elements.

Its crisp texture and acidic bite can also cut through the heaviness of meaty or creamy dishes, bringing a refreshing complexity to the overall taste experience.

I especially love how effortlessly just consuming sauerkraut with any meal elevates the flavor profile. Think of sauerkraut as a condiment that you add to any meal or dish to put gut health on autopilot.

There are countless ways to integrate sauerkraut into your diet, whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned fan.

Discover 50 Tasty Ways to Enjoy Sauerkraut {Simple Snacks to Yum Dishes}

Holly Howe sitting on counter eating sauerkraut from the jar. |

Lastly, Delve Deeper Into Fermentation With One of My Online Courses

Check out My Fermentation Library, just the place to learn how to safely transform everyday ingredients into healthy and delicious fermented foods.

My self-paced classes are designed for both total newbies as well as fermentation fans who want to add to their existing skills.

Courses are organized into digestible sections and come with downloadable course materials, such as a Quick Start Guide, Recipe Booklet, and Fermentation Journal, to match your learning style and ensure success… batch after batch.

Check out My Fermentation Library

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