The SureFire Sauerkraut Method… In a Jar: 7 Easy Steps

How to make sauerkraut in a jar. |

Have you heard how important fermented foods are for your health? Would you love to save money by making your own gut-healing sauerkraut? Are you frustrated with sauerkraut that has turned out moldy, slimy or putrid smelling?

Learn how to make sauerkraut with my SureFire Sauerkraut Method… In a Jar: 7 Easy Steps recipe. Small-batch fermentation made simple.

Naturally fermented sauerkraut is super-simple to make, is so good for you and tastes delicious – crunchy and tangy, nothing like you may have tasted on a hot dog from that stand at the county fair.

Don’t worry about needing a special crock or a fancy jar with an airlock. I will show you how to ferment a small batch of sauerkraut in a 1-quart (liter) canning jar that will be ready to eat in just a week. My many tips ensure success… the first time and every time!

I came across your website about 10 days ago and 8-year-old son and I made our first batch of home made sauerkraut last Sunday (9/25/16). We let it ferment in the hallway closet for a week and tasted it yesterday (10/2/2016).

This was the best sauerkraut we’ve ever had, my entire family loves it. My 3-year-old was asking for it for breakfast this morning. We’ll be doing more than 1 jar this time around because that one is already halfway gone. Thanks for the awesome information. FYI, we did a cabbage and garlic sauerkraut. Just 3 cloves of garlic and cabbage to make that deliciousness.

Isaac - Ramona, California
Isaac - Ramona, California

Prefer a recipe you can hold in your hands? Grab the PDF version of my teaching recipe. Includes photos and most of the extra tips discussed below. A hard copy to have handy on the counter as you make you first batch of sauerkraut.  🙂

How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar: Small-batch Fermentation, Step-by-Step

Sweet Garlic Sauerkraut

Equipment Ingredients
kitchen scale
cutting board & knife for slicing cabbage
large mixing bowl
vegetable peeler, measuring spoons & grater
quart (liter) wide-mouth canning jar or similar sized jar
4-ounce (125 ml) “jelly” canning jar (This is your “weight.”)
wide-mouth plastic storage cap (Or, use the metal rim and lid that comes with the jar.)
2-3 carrots
2-3 cloves garlic
1 medium head fresh green cabbage, 2½-3 pounds
1 tablespoon (15 ml) iodine-free salt

Follow these seven steps – click a button to go directly to that section – to learn how to make your very own batch of Sweet Garlic Sauerkraut.

Set UpChopSaltPackSubmergeFermentStore
Read through the entire recipe first and be sure to check the Notes and Tips Section at the end of each step before you start that step. That’s where all the helpful gems are kept.  😉

How to Make Sauerkraut Step 1: Gather your supplies and set up your scale. |

You want to first make sure you have everything you need on hand and your scale ready for weighing. I talk in detail about the equipment used to make sauerkraut and where to find it at Tools: Fermenting Supplies

Sauerkraut making equipment: bowl, knife, scale, jars and grater. |

Gather Equipment

  • kitchen scale
  • cutting board and chef’s knife
  • large mixing bowl
  • vegetable peeler, measuring spoons and grater
  • 1-quart (liter) wide-mouth canning jar or similar sized jar
  • 4-ounce (125 ml) “jelly” canning jar
  • wide-mouth plastic storage cap

Ingredients for making Sweet Garlic Sauerkraut: cabbage, carrots, garlic, salt. |

Purchase Ingredients

For the demo recipe, we are going to make Sweet Garlic Sauerkraut. It’s a popular flavor and it doesn’t require any hard-to-find ingredients.

  • 1 medium head fresh green cabbage, 2 ½–3 pounds
  • 2–3 carrots
  • 2–3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) iodine-free salt

Set Up Your Scale.

Placed mixing bowl on digital scale and take off tare weight. |

Digital: Zero scale or note tare weight. If you have a digital scale, turn it on and wait for it to power up. Place your bowl on it. You don’t want to include the weight of your bowl in your measurements, so either zero out the scale (usually done with a “Tare” button) or write down the weight of your bowl (tare weight).

Placed mixing bowl on scale and take off tare weight. |

Mechanical: Zero scale or note tare weight. Place your bowl on the scale. If the tray is small, you may need to add a small cutting board or other flat item to help balance the bowl. You don’t want to include the weight of your bowl in your measurements, so either zero out the scale (usually done with a knob under the tray) or write down the tare weight.

Set Up Notes and Tips

  • Use green cabbage. You’ll have the greatest success if you use the traditional round-headed green cabbage for your first few batches of sauerkraut. Stay away from red cabbage, initially. It has a deeper, earthier flavor and tougher leaves that often takes longer to ferment.
  • Use a scale. I highly recommend that you weigh your cabbage and vegetables so that you add the proper amount of salt. After teaching dozens of people in my MakeSauerkraut! workshops and fielding hundreds of questions from my readers, I’ve found that success rates hit 99.9% when participants used a scale to ensure the correct amount of salt is used in their ferment.
  • If using a digital scale, note bowl weight. Most digital scales automatically shut off after a few minutes. If your scale does, put your bowl on the scale and write down its weight. In STEP 2: PREP, you’ll add 1 pound 12 ounces (28 ounces, 800 grams) to this number. My favorite scale – that can be programmed to NOT shut off automatically – is the My Weigh KD8000.
  • What to use as a weight? If you don’t have access to the small 4-ounce (125 ml) “jelly” canning jar I give other suggestions in the Notes and Tips section for STEP 5: SUBMERGE & SEAL along with a comprehensive list in this post: Fermentation Weights: Keep Your Ferment Below the Brine.
  • Other lid options. If you can’t find the white plastic storage caps, you can use the rim and lid that comes with canning jars. I just prefer the white plastic caps because they don’t discolor like the metal ones do when coming in contact with the sauerkraut.
  • Keep your hands warm. So you don’t have to work your hands in a bowl of cold cabbage, you’ll find it useful to pull your cabbage out of the refrigerator the day before you plan to make your sauerkraut.
  • Make sure your salt does not contain iodine, sugar or anti-caking agents that may interfere with the fermentation process. What is the Best Salt for Making Fermented Sauerkraut? I use Himalayan Pink Salt in all my recipes.
  • You do not need to sterilize your jar, just wash with dish soap and rinse thoroughly.

How to Make Sauerkraut Step 2: Chop your vegetables and cabbage. |

You will need 1¾ pounds (28 ounces, 800 grams) of vegetables and cabbage in your bowl. When making sauerkraut, you first prepare the flavoring ingredients – carrots, ginger, radish, caraway seeds or whatnot – then add sliced cabbage. This allows you to add only as much sliced cabbage as necessary to hit 1¾ pounds on the scale.

Why? 1¾ pounds (28 ounces, 800 grams) is the perfect amount of cabbage and vegetables to mix with 1 tablespoon of salt to create the right saltiness of brine to ensure perfectly fermented sauerkraut. And, it’s the perfect amount of sauerkraut to pack into a 1-quart jar. So, we always slice just enough cabbage to have 1 3/4 pounds of vegetables AND cabbage.

Grate carrots, mince garlic and add to bowl. |

Peel and grate two to three carrots. Add these to the bowl. Finely mince two to three garlic cloves and add these to the bowl too.

Quarter cabbage and then slice thinly. |

Discard the limp outer leaves of the cabbage, setting aside one of the cleaner ones for use at the end of STEP 5: SUBMERGE & SEAL. Quarter the cabbage, leaving the core in. The core helps hold the layers of cabbage together, making the slicing job easier.

Place a cabbage quarter on one of its sides and slice the cabbage crosswise. I like thin ribbons; you may like a coarser texture. Just keep in mind that narrow ribbons will ferment more quickly than wider cut ribbons.

When you get to the core, turn it onto its round back and slice until just thick sections of core remain. (I don’t use the core, but instead feed it to the worms in my compost pile.)

Other Ways to Slice Cabbage

Can I use a food processor? Personally speaking, I don’t find a food processor helpful for slicing the cabbage. By the time I set it up and cut the cabbage to just the right-sized chunks to fit in the feed tube, I could have finished slicing with my knife.

The mandolin. Makes slicing thin ribbons of cabbage a joy. |

However, if you’re looking for a handy tool, I highly recommend buying a wide mandolin for slicing cabbage effortlessly into beautiful thin slices. I bought one a few years back and it’s now the way I slice all my cabbage. See Resources – Tools of the Trade for a recommended brand.

Add sliced cabbage to bowl until weight is 1 3/4 pounds for a manual scale or 800 grams for a digital scale. |

Add the sliced cabbage to your bowl until the weight of vegetables and cabbage is 1¾ pounds (28 ounces, 800 grams).

Amount of cabbage for 1 tablespoon of salt. |

You are now ready for the magic.

Prep Notes and Tips

  • Leave the core in. I find it easier to slice my cabbage if the core is not removed. It serves to hold the layers of cabbage together and make the job of slicing easier.
  • Slice towards the core until it gets too thick and then toss the core. Often the core is not as sweet as the rest of the cabbage and can be a bit tough, so I compost the cabbage core. Plus, I like thin, even threads. Slices from the core end up being too chunky for me.
  • Food processor? Some fermenters love to use a food processor to slice their cabbage. If you do, the feed tube will result in nicer slices than the S-blade. If you use the S-blade, be sure to not over-process the cabbage. Some readers have had success with the large grating disc.
  • Consider a mandolin for slicing your cabbage. I recommend the wide-body Benriner. Here is a quick video on how to use it. I leave the core in; no need for the ice bath. A mandolin makes it so easy to get thin, ribbon-like slices.
  • When to use the food processor? When making large batches, the food processor is handy for grating large amounts of carrots, mincing lots of garlic and prepping quantities of other vegetables in your recipe.
  • Follow the 75-25 Rule. When creating your own recipes, keep at least 75% of the weight in cabbage and no more than 25% of the total weight as “flavoring” ingredients. This makes for a nice flavor balance and a healthy ferment.

💕 Invite this simple art of fermentation into other homes by sharing this recipe on your favorite social media channels. ~ THANK YOU!  😀

How to Make Sauerkraut Step 3: Add salt and create your brine. |

Create the brine in which your sauerkraut will ferment. For this you need salt. Salt pulls water out of the cabbage and vegetables to create an environment where the good bacteria (mainly lactobacillus) can grow and proliferate and the bad bacteria die off.

Sprinkle with salt and mix well. |

Sprinkle vegetables and cabbage with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of salt and mix well.

Massage cabbage with strong hands until good sized puddle of brine. |

Massage and squeeze the vegetables with strong hands until moist, creating the brine. You should be able to tilt the bowl to the side and see a good-sized puddle of brine, about 2–3 inches in diameter. This process can take anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes.

Salt Notes and Tips

  • No-Pound Sauerkraut. If you want the salt to work for you, or are feeling lazy and want to put your feet up and sip on a cup of Joe, you can leave the salted cabbage alone for 20 minutes to an hour. Return later and you’ll notice the cabbage is glistening with “sweat.” (Look closely at the cabbage mixture in the upper, left-hand picture above.) This is the brine-making process already in progress. You will not have to massage the cabbage as much now.
  • Fresh cabbage. The fresher the cabbage and the higher the moisture content, the quicker the brine will be created. If you’re making sauerkraut in the fall with fresh cabbage, you’ll see this for sure. On the other hand, if you’re making sauerkraut with cabbage that has been stored for months, you’ll find it harder to create the brine and there’ll be less of it.
  • Weigh you salt. If you have a digital scale and the personality for exactness, you can use your scale to weigh the correct amount of salt. Salt by Weight for Delicious Sauerkraut… Batch after Batch

How to Make Sauerkraut Step 4: Pack vegetable and cabbage mixture into your jar. |

Now that you have a puddle of brine, it’s time to pack the cabbage mixture into your jar.

Grab handfuls of cabbage mixture and pack into jar. Pour in any extra brine. |

Grab handfuls of the salty, juicy cabbage mixture and pack them into your quart-sized wide-mouth canning jar, periodically pressing the mixture down tightly with your fist or a large spoon so that the brine rises above the top of the mixture and no air pockets remain.

Be sure to leave at least 1 inch of space between the top of the cabbage and the top of the jar. Because we weighed out just the right amount of cabbage to fit in your jar, this should happen automatically.

Pour any brine left in your mixing bowl into the jar and scrape out any loose bits stuck to the sides of the bowl.

It helps to hold the jar in one hand – my clean hand – and pack with the other hand, holding everything over the bowl. This helps to keep the mess to a minimum.

Push down any tidbits on the inside of the jar. |

Lastly, wipe down the outside of the jar and push down any tidbits on the inside of the jar that may remain above your packed ferment. Remember: “Under the brine, makes it fine!”  🙂

Pack Notes and Tips

  • Kraut Pounder. If your hand is too large to fit into the jar, a kraut pounder can be used as well as a large spoon, the end of a rolling pin, or a meat pounder. I share some options on my fermenting supplies page. Also, if you are making a lot of sauerkraut or have sensitive hands, you may not want to have your hands irritated by the salty brine.
  • Funnel. One of my readers shared how useful this funnel has been for filling her jars.

How to Make Sauerkraut Step 5: Hold cabbage mixture below brine. |

Now make sure your fermenting mixture is in a safe anaerobic (no air) environment. This means that you need to keep the cabbage mixture submerged in the brine while it ferments. Air is bad for the fermenting sauerkraut and can enable the bad bacteria to grow and proliferate, creating mold and other undesirable by-products.

Tear cabbage leaf to size and place in jar. |

Floaties Trap. Take that cabbage leaf you saved in Step 1, tear it down (Or, be a bit obsessive. Trace the jar lid and cut cabbage leaf to size.) to just fit in the jar. Forgot to save a cabbage leaf? No problem. You can fold a narrow piece of parchment paper to size or even cut an old plastic lid to size.

Place weight in jar and lightly screw lid on. |

To prevents bits floating to the surface, place your torn cabbage leaf over the surface of the packed cabbage.

To hold the vegetables below the brine, place the 4-ounce jelly jar on top of the cabbage leaf, right side up with its lid removed. The jar might stick out of the top of the jar a bit. Don’t worry: when you screw on the lid, it will get pressed down into place.

Lightly screw the white plastic storage lid onto the jar. By leaving the lid on somewhat loose, CO2 gases that will build up during the fermentation process can escape.

If you have lots of brine in the jar, you may have to pour some of it out to get the lid on without the liquid overflowing.

Painter's tape and permanent marker to label jar.Sauerkraut Jar labeled with flavor and date. |

I like to label my jars using green or blue painter’s tape and a permanent marker. I note the flavor of sauerkraut I made and the date I started fermenting.

Submerge Notes and Tips

  • Floaties Trap. If you forgot to save a few cabbage leaves for your Floaties Trap, sift through your cabbage scraps and see if you can retrieve some. If that doesn’t pan out, a piece of parchment paper, cut to size, works well. Wax paper should also do the trick.
  • Other ideas for Weight? If don’t have access to the small “jelly” jar for a weight, search your house for other small jars: a shot glass or perhaps a small mushroom jar. Some use a clean rock. You can also use a food-grade freezer bags filled with salt water (1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water). I haven’t tried this idea yet, but have read of others cutting bamboo skewers to just the right size to push against the edge of the jar and crisscross the packed ferment. More ideas in Fermentation Weights: Keep Your Ferment Below the Brine.
  • If there is not enough brine to cover your packed cabbage mixture by 1 inch, go ahead and put the lid on your jar and check it the next day. If there is still not enough brine, dissolve 1 tablespoon salt in 2 cups water and pour this in.

How to Make Sauerkraut Step 6: Ferment for 1-4 weeks. |

It is time now for the friendly bacteria to do their work while you watch and wait. They know how to make sauerkraut FOR YOU!   🙂

Can you wait seven days to taste the tangy crunch?

During this time, the friendly bacteria that live on the vegetables will be eating the sugars in the cabbage and carrots, multiplying and releasing copious amounts of lactic acid that act as a “poison” for any of the bad bacteria. Let them work while you rest.

Jar of sauerkraut in bowl to catch brine. Microbes making bubbles during the first 24 hours. |

Place your jar of fermenting sauerkraut in a shallow bowl (to catch the brine that may leak out during the first week of fermentation), out of direct sunlight. Cover it with a towel if you’d like to, although I don’t. I enjoy watching the changes my beautiful kraut artwork undergoes over the ensuing days or weeks. I just finished packing the jar on the left; the jar on the right shows how much brine was created in just 24 hours.

The ideal fermentation temperature is between 65 and 75°F (18–23°C). The lower the temperature, the slower the fermentation. The higher the temperature, the faster the fermentation. Ideally, you want the temperature to be somewhat stable, not fluctuating more than 5 degrees in either direction.

The first week is when you’ll see the most action in the jar. The mixture will get bubbly and the brine will rise in the jar, likely seeping out from under the lid. Your home may even start to smell like sauerkraut! During this first week, keep an eye on the level of the brine. It will rise and fall with the temperature in the house.

If the lid is bulging or you don’t see brine seeping out, carefully loosen the lid just a tad, stopping the second you hear gases escaping or see liquid seeping.

Should the brine level fall (very unlikely) and remain below the level of the sauerkraut during this first week, dilute 1 tablespoon of salt in 2 cups of water

Extra brine for sauerkraut: 1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water. |

and pour some of this brine over the sauerkraut (removing the little jar first) until it just covers the mixture. Put the little jar back in, screw the lid on lightly and let the fermentation continue.

Don’t worry if the brine disappears after the 7- to 10-day mark. By this time, you’ve created a safe environment in which the bacteria that would cause mold or slime has been chased away by the beneficial bacteria produced during the fermentation process. Here’s how my jar of sauerkraut looks over time:

Fermenting sauerkraut: Day 1, Day 3, Week 1, Week 3

At the 1-week period, open the jar, pull out the small jar, and smell and taste your sauerkraut. At this point, you can decide to start eating it or let it ferment for bit longer.

You can ferment your sauerkraut for up to 4 weeks. The longer you ferment it, the greater the number and variety of beneficial bacteria that can be produced. Research that I’ve come across indicates that bacteria numbers peak at 21 days. Keep that in mind, but ferment for flavor. You have to like the stuff to eat it.  😀

I suggest that people ferment their first jar for 1 week, and then the next jar for 2–4 weeks, tasting it at 1-week intervals to determine the level of tang and crunch they personally prefer. See How Long to Ferment Sauerkraut?

Ferment Notes and Tips

  • If the brine in your jar seems to suddenly disappear, don’t panic. This is due to a few things. Cooler temperatures can pull the brine back into the sauerkraut. When the house warms up, brine levels usually rise again. Atmospheric pressure will also affect brine levels.
  • Should the brine level fall (very unlikely) and remain below the level of the sauerkraut during the first week, dilute 1 tablespoon of salt in 2 cups of water and pour some of this brine over the sauerkraut (removing the little jar first) until it just covers the mixture. Put the little jar back in, screw the lid on lightly and let the fermentation continue.
  • To protect your kitchen counter and save cleaning up a mess, be sure to keep your fermenting jar in a shallow dish of some sort.
  • Don’t worry if the brine disappears after the 7- to 10-day mark. By this time, you’ve created a safe environment in which the bacteria that would cause mold or slime has been chased away by the beneficial bacteria produced during the fermentation process.
    I’m finding that there can be so many air bubbles mixed in with the fermenting sauerkraut that it expands, making it look like there is no brine. Pushing down on the weight, sliding a butter knife along the inside of the jar or poking the sauerkraut with a bamboo skewer will release all the air bubbles and allow the sauerkraut to condense back down into the jar and brine to recover the top of it.
  • Music and Bubbles. You will hear an occasional fizzy sound from air escaping the jar. This is normal, and is caused by carbon dioxide escaping the jar. It is one sign that fermentation is happening.

What follows are some images readers left in the comments below for you to see the many ways that your jar of sauerkraut may look.

Readers' sauerkraut in action. |

How to Make Sauerkraut Step 7: Store in fridge for up to 1 year. |

After fermenting your sauerkraut, it’s time to move it to the refrigerator and is ready to be eaten. Refrigeration slows the fermentation process to the point where you won’t notice significant changes in texture.

Rinse off the outside of the jar. You can take the little jar out. Clean the rim if necessary (sometimes it can get sticky from the brine that overflows), and screw the lid back on tightly.

Add to your label how long you fermented the contents.

Enjoy a forkful or two of your sauerkraut with your meals. It will continue to ferment – aging like a fine wine – but at a much slower rate that before. If the flavors are too intense, leave it – in your refrigerator – for a month or two and then sample it. You will be amazed at how the flavors have changed.

If successfully fermented (tastes and smells good), your sauerkraut can be kept preserved in your refrigerator for up to a year.

Store Notes and Tips

  • 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. With these temperatures, you won’t notice much change in the texture over a 12-month period, the typical storage length for sauerkraut. If you store your sauerkraut in a cool basement 55°F (12.7°C), you will notice your sauerkraut getting softer as the months progress.
  • Not enough room in your refrigerator? Consider a second refrigerator – even a small dormitory-sized one – if you have a place for it.
  • Clean up your refrigerator. Doing so makes for a less-expensive solution. There is more room in there than you realize. Toss out old or moldy mystery jars and organize. With today’s deeper refrigerators you’ll find a goldmine of space at the back side. This is where I can store 7-10 jars of sauerkraut.
  • Canning is not recommended for fermented foods. The high heat destroys most, if not all, of the beneficial bacteria.
  • Refrigerated jar of sauerkraut looks dry. You may notice that there is not always brine covering your jars of sauerkraut in the refrigerator. This leaves the top portion of your sauerkraut exposed to air and possible loss of nutrients. I notice this happens when the sauerkraut is cold, as it seems to contract and “drink” up all the brine. You may add more brine as I used to, but I found it dilutes the flavors I work so hard to create. An upcoming post will cover this in detail.
    I’m experimenting around with using ViscoDisc Canning Buddies to hold everything below the brine during storage.
  • DIY Root Cellar? Freeze? Dehydrate? See: 5 Ways to Store Fermented Sauerkraut [One is Controversial]

💕 Invite this simple art of fermentation into other homes by sharing this recipe on your favorite social media channels. ~ THANK YOU!   🙂

Enjoy probiotic-rich sauerkraut with your meals. |

When trying to incorporate sauerkraut into your diet, keep it simple. And remember, if you want to take advantage the benefits of lacto-fermented sauerkraut, don’t destroy the good enzymes and probiotics by heating your sauerkraut. It’s fine to stir sauerkraut into a warm bowl of soup or sprinkle some on the top of your meal, you just don’t want to cook or bake with it. Or… if your favorite recipe calls for sauerkraut, just be sure to serve some uncooked sauerkraut alongside it. The best of both worlds.

Here are a few ways to enjoy your tasty, probiotic-rich sauerkraut!

Ways to eat sauerkraut. |

Condiment to the Main Meal

The easiest way to add sauerkraut to your diet is as a condiment. It pairs well with almost anything.

Don’t like cold sauerkraut? Try to remember to pull it out of the refrigerator as you begin to prepare the meal.

Almost Instant Salad

In a bowl, mix lettuce, a few forkfuls of sauerkraut, some brine, a splash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a fresh ground black pepper. For a more filling salad, add chunks of cheese or leftover meat.

Quick Pick-Me-Up

Have that afternoon slump and wish you could take a nap? Try a few bites of sauerkraut – yes, you can eat it right out of the jar – and see if you are soon re-energized.

Hot Dog!

Last, but not least: add sauerkraut to that hot dog for the classic combination.

For more than 7 – it’s an ever expanding list – ideas see: 7 Easy Ways to Eat Sauerkraut

Enjoy Notes and Tips

  • Keep it simple. You can come up with all sorts of creative ways to eat sauerkraut, but the simplest is either as a condiment with your meal or mixed into a salad. You’ll find it quite easy to raise the bar on your meals when you have flavorful sauerkraut on hand.
  • Serve straight from the jar. Place a couple jars of sauerkraut on the table and let each member of your family use their clean fork to put some of their favorite sauerkraut on their plate. If you’re lucky enough to still have brine when you to the bottom of the jar, drink it’s probiotic-rich goodness or pour it into another finished ferment in your fridge.
  • Don’t like to eat cold sauerkraut? Either remember to remove it from the refrigerator an hour before the meal, or at the beginning of your meal place it on your plate and give it some time to come to room temperature. Placing it on top of a warm dish is another way to take the chill out.
  • Eat your probiotic-rich sauerkraut within a year. If properly fermented, it can last much longer, but you’ll start to see browning in the top layer of the jar, especially with sauerkraut containing beets. This browning indicates loss of vitamins; mainly Vitamin C.
  • Enjoy the subtle health benefits. Improved digestion, better energy and a stronger immune system can all be yours as you nourish your body with sauerkraut, the fermented foods Superstar.
  • If this is the first time for you to eat sauerkraut, go slow especially if you have compromised digestion. You can start with just a sip or two of the brine and then move on to eating a small bite of the sauerkraut watching for symptoms. Take about a month to work your way up to two small (1/4 cup) servings per day.
  • Experiencing gas, diarrhea or other digestive symptoms? Most likely, you’ve introduced more bacteria and fiber into your diet than your body could handle. See the previous tip and scale back on your consumption.
  • Salty sauerkraut? The type of salt you use will determine how salty your finished sauerkraut tastes. I use Himalayan Pink Salt in all my recipes. Himalayan Pink Salt – and Real Salt – are mineral-rich salts that contain 84% sodium chloride; commercial table salt contains 98% sodium chloride. The sodium content of mineral-rich salts still creates the proper brine for a safe ferment but with a greater depth of flavor and less salty taste to the finished product than table salt.

Successes? Failures? Questions? Clarifications? Share them in the comment section below.

I’m in the process of developing an easy way for you to share a picture of your first jar of fermented sauerkraut. I’m wanting some type of clickable world map to attached jars of sauerkraut, made by YOU! Once up and running, there will be a counter at the top of the page indicating current number of jars made. My goal: 100,000 jars!

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  • Perfect, just what I was looking for. Very clean and organized tutorial and I particularly appreciate the part on different salts (that’s how i found your post). I cant wait to get started! I’m going to the store now! <3

    • Holly Howe

      Hello Reya, Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the feedback. Good luck with your sauerkraut. Let me know how it works for you. = Holly

  • Mandy

    Very informative–thank you! I wish I would have come across your tutorial a week ago upon attempting my first mason jar kraut ferment. The use of a smaller jam jar as a weight over a cabbage leaf is the missing piece I needed as I now see a couple of runaway pieces of cabbage floating in my brine and I’m worried I may have ruined this batch. After reading your step by step, I’m excited to try it your way!

    • Hi Mandy, Apologies that I didn’t catch your comment until now. Was migrating the website and notifications can get lost in the process…
      Don’t worry about a few runaway pieces of cabbage floating in the brine. They should be just fine. Hopefully, by now you’re enjoying some delicious sauerkraut.. With proper salt ratios, it’s very hard to ruin a batch of sauerkraut.
      All the best, Holly

  • anne

    Hi I am 4 days into my first jar. I made a brine with water, and apple in a blender and a “starter” pack. I am wondering what to do with the cabbage I rolled and put on top to keep cabbage under the brine? do I toss it, also can I assume it is safe to eat as long as it smells ok? THANK FOR YOUR site!

    • Hi Anne,
      Congrats on your sauerkraut! Yes, you can eat the cabbage leaf but I tend to toss mine into the compost heap.

      With the sugars in the apple and your “starter” pack, fermentation may progress faster than usual. Taste at 7 days and then weekly after that to make sure you don’t over ferment it. It might need just one week.

      If you want to keep the fermentation process simple, try next time without your “magic” brine, though it does sound yummy.

      You’re welcome. I’m wanting sauerkraut in every home, so I’m glad I could help!

  • amanda

    I am so stoked! I just tasted my first ever batch of sauerkraut (on day 8) & it’s delicious 🙂 I followed your easy instructions & am really happy that my family & I can enjoy this amazing, health giving goodness with so little expense or fuss. We will find a place on our plates for some sauerkraut every day! Next mission…to explore kombucha. Any recommended websites?! Blessings on all you fellow yummy good food enthusiasts.

    • CONGRATULATIONS! So little expense or fuss is exactly my goal.

      Kombucha. Check towards the end of my post: where I give recommended websites. I make mine in a gallon jar. I put 2 quarts of water in the jar. Make my tea in a concentrated 1 quart batch. Pour that into the gallon jar (containing the 2 quarts water) to instantly cool it, then add the starter tea and SCOBY. Not as much detail as you might need but check out the recommend websites on my post and you’ll be sipping refreshing Kombucha soon.

      For Future Fabulous Ferments

      • amanda

        Great, thank you. I’ll check out the recommended websites 😀

  • Julie Withers

    Hi Holly, after your help earlier this year following my failed attempt at saukerkraut, my latest batches using your recipes, tips and salt/cabbage ratios are perfect. We are loving it. thanks again for your help

    • You are more than welcome! Thanks for taking the time to let me know it all worked so well. – Holly

  • David

    Hey, your website is great! Thanks for all the info and resources! So i have a question, lets say I want to measure my salt a little bit more accurately in a case where I have 4 lbs of cabbage or 6 pounds of cabbage. Then what would I do? Is there an amount like in grams or something that I could use? Thanks!

    • Good question David,

      Yes. Work in grams. Weigh you cabbage in grams and multiply by .02. (2%) and that number is how much salt to use in grams. Weigh the salt.

      For example: 3000 grams of cabbage
      Multiplied by .02 = 60 grams of salt

      This method – both cabbage and salt by weight – is more accurate than using the measuring spoon since all salts are different weights but it’s only an issue when working with large industrial batches.

      For a quart jar: 800 grams cabbage
      Multiplied by .02 = 16 grams of salt
      Which is approx. equal to 1 tablespoon.

      Also covered in my post:
      Happy Fermenting!

      • David

        Thanks Holly! Made 2 jars Friday. Looking forward to seeing how it goes.

        • Excellent David. You should have some scrumptious sauerkraut in 1-3 weeks.

          • David

            Hey Holly,
            So I bought the japanese mandolin from your resources guide. I received it the other day and was looking at it…i wanted to know if this was normal or i got a defective one. The plastic part that moves up and down from turning the screws on the back, i noticed when i bring out the screws all the way to allow for maximum thickness, only one side of that plastic part comes down flush. The other side seems to have a little gap that has to be flexed to get it all the way down but it just flexes right back?? Looking at it you would think that once both screws are turned out, both ends of the plastic would both be flush up against the landing plastic. Just wondering if that was normal or not. Seems like there is a little flexure in the part that goes up and down when both screws are turned out all the way out. Thanks!

          • I just lent mine out so I don’t have it to look at. However, it should stay level if both screws are at the same level. If you bought it through Amazon, I would call or email them. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with their customer service. Use it until you get the new one. You’ll want it pretty thin so maybe it won’t be an issue until the replacement comes.

  • Lorna Cameron

    Hi there just wondering if it matters what type of cabbage I use as I have savoy cabbage growing but also the only organic cabbage available here in Scotland is the seasonal cabbage which is slightly different from the usual white cabbage

    • Type of cabbage should not make a big difference. Use what you have access to in your neck of the woods. Any cabbage will work. I’m guessing that the savoy might ferment a little faster – thought I have never fermented with it – because it’s a thinner leaf. I like the usual white/green cabbage because it’s easy to get here in north america and it’s not full of little slugs/bugs more common with looser leaf cabbages. – Happy Fermenting

  • Vishnu Karthik Balachandran


    Great post! You have mentioned that the ideal temperature range is 65-75F. I live in a place where the temperature is around 90F. Do you have any suggestions for how I can make Saurkraut here? Do you recommend that I put it in the refrigerator?

    • A couple suggestions:
      Just ferment for 3 days at the 90F and then put in the refrigerator for to ferment for a month. Will continue to ferment, but very slowly.
      Go a little heavy on the salt and ferment for a week (or 2? – taste) on the counter. Salt slows down the fermentation process. I’m thinking a heaping tablespoon.
      Set up a cooler with a small ice block (small frozen juice bottle) and see what temperature you have. Might need to play around with how much ice and how often you replace it.
      Do you have a cooler spot – closet – crawl space – somewhere in the house?
      The Korean’s bury their sauerkraut at the beginning of their Kimchi-making season. At the beginning, it’s warm enough for fermentation then as the ground cools, the fermentation slows and it’s then stored in the ground as if in the fridge.
      Wait until the weather cools? If it does. Here in Canada where we have 80F days during the summer, I wait until fall to ferment.
      Hope this helps. – Holly

  • Hi Holly,
    Great website to find especially after my MD wants me to eat at least a half cup of sauerkraut a day! I have a question: I have both quart jars and a German style air locked maker that holds 5 quarts. The problem with the German maker is that I have to transfer it to quarts when it’s done. (I just made 13 quarts total using both) So which does a better job of making the sauerkraut? Both taste the same. Any advantage one way or the other? If not, I’ll go with the easier way. Thanks.

    • Quarts are a great way to start. They give you a chance to master the process and figure out what flavors you like.

      If you’re talking the German style crock with the water trough (see my resource page), that is the best. In the larger environment, you just get better microbial action and more stable temperatures with the stoneware. Yes, it’s a hassle to transfer into quarts but you can make a lot all at once, even seasonally to store for the year. If your talking the glass jar with the beer/wine airlock, I agree the quart jar is easier.

      Go with what works and when you’re ready you’ll take the next step. I do feel there is greater depth to the flavor in the crock. I can fit 15#s of cabbage mixture into the 5-liter stoneware crock and end up with 7-8 liters of sauerkraut.

      Happy fermenting and enjoy the health benefits. Work your way up slowly to that half cup. 🙂

  • Jyoti Light

    I just made my first quart jar batch of sweet garlic using your recipe, so we’ll see how I did! I do have a question. I got a 2 qt crock for making krauts, and it comes with some weights to keep the kraut under the brine, as well as a lid, of course. My question is this: do I have to fill the crock to near the top or can I do a smaller amount with space at the top between the brine and the top of the crock – or would that allow air???

    • Hi Jyoti, Congrats on your first batch of sauerkraut. Enjoy it! You’ll love your kraut crock, especially if it has a water moat.

      Ideally, you want to fill it to close from the top, including the weights. Like you thought, this decreases the amount of air in the crock. You could make a triple batch of one of my recipes, 5 pounds of cabbage/vegetables and 3 tablespoons of salt. See if that amount works. If it’s too much, pack the extra into another jar and try just a double batch the next time. In my 5-liter crock, I can pack 15 pounds of cabbage. Good Luck.

  • Realitvwith Bee


    I started a large cabbage from the garden, fermenting a week ago. I tried it today and it does not taste at all sour. It still tastes fairly strongly for cabbage. I’m thinking I did not use enough salt, as I did not have a kitchen scale and guessed at the weight. Can I fix this a week in by adding more brine or salt? There is no mold or yeast growing and the cabbage is completely under the brine. Thanks!

    • My guess is that you used too much salt so that fermentation is progressing at a slower rate than usual. You also have no mold/yeast and still a cabbage taste, also indicating high salt. All just a guess. If you measured how much salt you put it, you should have ended up with 1 tablespoon for the amount of cabbage you can pack into a approximate quart-sized/liter-sized jar.

      I would let it continue to ferment and taste it again in a few more days. Try another batch, and if you’re not using a scale, before you salt it, pack tightly what sliced cabbage and vegetables you can into a quart jar all the way to the top, dump that back into a bowl, add an extra handful of cabbage (for shrinkage) then sprinkle with a tablespoon of salt, mix and massage to get your brine and repack into the jar. It should come up to just below the rim. Don’t give up. The rewards are worth the lessons.

  • Vina Threlkeld

    Hello, I am in the process of making my first batch of sauerkraut. Within the first couple of days we had a little heat wave come through and my brine started to rise and bubble. Now that the temperature is back to normal the bubbles went away but they left a light layer of scum at the top of my jar above the brine. How should I deal with this without contaminating my entire batch? Thanks! Vina

    • Hi Vina, No worries. I wouldn’t open the jar until the 7 days have passed, then give it a taste. With the heat, you may not need to ferment it much longer than the 7-14 days. The brine rising and bubbling is normal and it can be quite “active” around the 2-5 day stage, especially with the extra heat. Once you open it, you can scoop the scum off and all should be fine. Congrats and enjoy that first batch! Holly

      • Vina Threlkeld

        Awesome, thanks so much!

  • Pingback: How to make kimchi | Planning With Kids()

  • Midori Clough Harris

    Holly, my fermented cabbage brine had discolored brown on top, but clear on the bottom. No slime or mold, do you think it is safe to eat?

    • Hello Midori, It should be fine to eat, especially if there is no strong offensive odor. At times, you do end up with brown brine due to air exposure, too warm fermentation temp? Enjoy it and congrats on your sauerkraut! Holly

      • Midori Clough Harris

        Hello Holly. I am so excited to report that my fermented cabbage came out perfect. My husband loves sauerkraut, but I am not a fan of the commercial vinegar pickled sauerkraut. My husband and I love the way the homemade naturally fermented and healthy version tastes. Thank you so much for being there to ease my mind about the clear brown liquid on top.

        • Hi Midori, Thanks for sharing your success! I could never eat that canned vinegary stuff either. Enjoy and try some of the other flavors on my website. They’ll get you hooked for sure.

          • Sandra Grant

            Thank you. I’m starting again this afternoon, and I’m using your recipe.

  • Andrew Hoffman

    Great website and directions! This afternoon I finished making my first batch of sauerkraut using a head of red cabbage, carrots, Alaea Hawaiian pink sea salt, and caraway seeds.

    As I was slicing and weighing the cabbage I realized I had enough to make two quart-sized jars of sauerkraut. So I shredded a couple more carrots and doubled the salt (so one TBSP salt per jar). I was surprised by the amount of liquid released from the vegetables; I had nearly a cup extra that wouldn’t fit!

    I don’t have plastic lids for my jars yet, so I just used the regular old fashioned metal lids screwed on to fingertip tight. The only weights I could come up with were shot glasses.

    Looking forward to trying other variations! Sauerruben (fermented turnips) sounds good. I really like those bags of brocolli slaw in the grocery store, I bet that would make a nice “sauerkraut” (sauerbrocolli?).

    • Hello Andrew, Congrats on your fermentation adventures and thanks for the compliment! Yes, at times there can be a lot of liquid, especially with freshly harvested cabbage that hasn’t been drying out in storage. Yes, 1 tablespoon salt per quart jar.

      You can also use a stone/rock for a weight. Clean well and bake in the over at 200 for an hour to “sterilize.” Shot glasses do the trick too. Keep fermenting and enjoying the goodness. Sauerruben… Sauerbroccoli…

  • Sandra Grant

    Hi. I am very new to this. I tried my first batch of sauerkraut 17 days ago. I used the special Kraut Kaps, so that I wouldn’t have to think about burping the jar (or having an explosion!). I had 2 jars full to the shoulder. There was just enough brine to keep things submerged by about an inch. I put a whole cabbage leaf and a fermentation weight in and sealed the jars. I did see some bubbling in the 4-7 days (I think; didn’t count). Then I noticed the level of liquid was diminishing. I decided to let it be. Well, a few days ago, they were looking pretty dry, and I noticed that the first several inches deep, the cabbage acquiring a tan color. I decided to add brine. I mixed 2 cups water with 1 Tbs sea salt. When I opened the jars, the mixture smelled sour, like old-fashioned pickles, certainly not unpleasant at all. I added brine and re-sealed everything. I was still bothered by the higher layers of cabbage having a darker hue than the lower ones, so I decided to end the fermentation today (day 17). I took off the weights and the large leaves from the top and tasted the sauerkraut. It tastes quite sour. I’m not accustomed to eating this, so I don’t think I’d call it pleasant, but It is certainly not offensive. Any thoughts on safety, however, given the color change? I have read so much conflicting information (discoloration is always unsafe, only red/pink discoloration is unsafe, etc). Also, it might just be too sour for my taste. I’ve read confliction info on that too. Some say taste it in a week, so it doesn’t get too sour; others say that it takes several weeks to get the probiotic benefit. Another question: did I change the beneficial nature of my natural brine by diluting it with the added salt water? And finally, I used Morton iodized sea salt, oops! I later read that I should have used non iodized sea salt with no other ingredients. Thoughts? Thank you in advance for any feedback and help.

    • Hello Sandra, Though you’re very new to sauerkraut fermentation, it sounds like you’re learning the art. Yes, the level of liquid does diminish after the first week at times. You’ll even see it move up and down with the temperature in the house.

      The tan color is coming from air exposure when it wasn’t below the brine. No “safety” issues to worry about.

      Sour taste? Sour is not a flavor we grew up consuming, so it may take awhile for taste buds to adapt. Ferment for a shorter period next time. Maybe just a week and then gradually work your way up to 3 weeks. Also, you can leave it alone in the fridge for a month or two for flavors to mellow. Eventually, you can get a longer ferment (and a greater level of probiotics), but you have to like it first. Try another batch with some added carrots or beets for some sweetness to balance the sour.

      To eat, mix it into a salad where the flavors can be masked with a simple salad dressing. For other easy ways on how to eat sauerkraut, see:

      Diluted brine. No worries. My biggest complaint with adding brine is that it dilutes the flavors. The good bacteria are still there.

      Iodized sea salt. Live and learn. Sando Katz, the “Johnny Appleseed” of fermentation has used iodized without issue. I stay away from it to stack the deck in my favor. Happy Fermenting!

      • Sandra Grant

        Holly, Thank you SO much for all of your expertise. I am so happy to hear that it is safe to use. I’ve really been looking forward to it. Can’t wait to get started on my next ferment. Thanks again.

        • Sandra Grant

          So one more question then:
          Next time, if I see the top is dry and no longer under liquid, should I add saltwater brine, or should I just leave it be?
          Thank you again

          • If I’m past day 5 or 6, I tend to leave it be, because I don’t want to dilute the flavors. I’ve also noticed that different varieties of cabbage “behave” differently. So if you can make it to a farmer’s market, you might be able to try some different varieties. Be sure to follow my SureFire Sauerkraut recipe for the correct salt ratio. That is key… in my humble opinion 🙂

  • Sandra Grant

    Hi Holly. Today, I have a new problem. I hope you can help me.
    I started a new ferment (your basic sauerkraut with the garlic and corrot) last night using a Kraut Kap (I hope you are familiar with those. I didn’t have all that much brine (or so I thought). By today, some brine had risen up into the lid apparatus. I eased the valve apparatus up farther out of the lid of the jar in order to make sue that the bottom end of it was not submerged in brine but rather in the open air above the brine. Some bubbles came out, and it seemed all was well (except that the chamber in the apparatus is no longer filled with only distilled water, because it still has some brine in it. A few hrs later, again I see the fluid in the apparatus way above the fill line, even though the bottom of the tube is above the liquid in the jar, but just barely (and still the apparatus has some brine in it, because I never removed the whole apparatus from the hole in the lid). Should I remove the apparatus and empty off the fluid and refill it with distilled water to the fill line and replace it into the hole on the lid? Or should I leave it alone? I can’t imagine how the jar is so much more full than when I packed it in. the good news is that the vegetables are certainly submerged.
    thank you

    • Hi Sandra, Congrats on a very active batch of sauerkraut. It’ll settle down in a few days. Me, I would remove the apparatus, clean it all out and refill with distilled water. That way, in a few days when the brine level isn’t as high, you have a clean pressure release valve. Keep the enthusiasm going!

      • Sandra Grant

        ok, thank you. And is it normal with this recipe to see orangy-brown particles in the brine? I’d describe it as “sediment” however, it’s neither sinking nor floating. It’s just all evenly suspended in the liquid I see above the veggies. I’d think it’s from carrots, but what do I know?

        • I would agree that it’s most likely from the carrots. You know a lot more than you did just a few days ago!

          • Sandra Grant

            Well, thank you, but that’s quite a low bar 🙂

  • richard carter

    Hey Holly, I agree with everyone that your website, as well as you, are excellent. I have read a good part of the Art of Fermentation, which I like for all the information, and other sites. I find yours very useful and I think it is great how you respond to all the questions and comments. I am presently in Shanghai so it presents challenges not found other places. I do have one question now that I think about it, I wonder why you cant put say an extra inch of water into the jar ie one inch above the vegetables? I know of course it is essential to keep the vegs. covered so I wondered why a little extra might not be a good idea. I havent seen this addressed elsewhere though I have searched for it. Thanks and take care.

    • Richard, Thanks SO MUCH for your wonderful feedback. Much appreciated. What fermentation challenges does Shanghai present?

      You can put extra SALTY water (brine made with 1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water) into the jar, but I don’t find a need to. If your sauerkraut produces enough brine with just the salt added to the cabbage, you’ll have enough brine to cover the cabbage. After the first week, when the brine can magically just disappear, some people do add brine. I tend not to because it dilutes the flavors and by that stage the good bacteria have won over the bad bacteria and enough lactic acid has built up to preserve the sauerkraut.

      If you add just water – without any salt – you won’t have that magic 2% brine that works so well for making SureFire Sauerkraut. Hope this makes sense and is what you were asking. – Holly

  • Justin Ballantine

    is it necessary to make the cabbage sweat? can you just place the cabbage in a jar and add saltwater? Thanks

    • Hello Justin, I haven’t tried making sauerkraut by just pouring over a brine. My concern is keeping the 2% ratio which I believe is key to successful sauerkraut. Also, the water would dilute the flavors which I work so hard to create.

      And, really you don’t have to massage/pound it much – or at all. Just mix in the salt and let it sit for a few hours, or even overnight, and then pack into the jar. In Korea, when they make Kimchi, they soak the leaves in a salt water and then drain and pack with other spices. An area to delve into for another approach.

  • richard carter

    Hi again and thanks for your previous reply, Holly.

    I said I am in Shanghai, it is often hard getting various supplies that you suggest, such as a bell jar. But I think it isnt that big a deal, it is more the contrast of when I am in the US to get things so easily.

    I made a batch of kim chi before I read your site, using recipes from what seemed reliable sites, and I believe I used a lot more salt than your recipes call for. My batch has sat for 7 days now and I didnt observe much activity and when I tasted it after 10 days it didnt seem very fermented.

    My question is whether I can do anything to remedy this other than letting time do it’s thing? I am thinking, for eg., maybe of draining the liquid and adding in just water, though there would still be a lot of salt left in the jar. Any thoughts very appreciated, thank you very much.

    • Good question Richard. Think 3 variables you have to work with: SALT, TIME and TEMPERATURE.

      SALT: The more salt you use the longer it takes to ferment. Too much, never ferments. Not enough, bad bacteria can get a hold. So, if you went heavy on the salt, it will take longer to ferment. I don’t think you used so much that it would not ferment.

      TIME: Since you’re high on the salt, you would need to ferment longer. So with that in mind you could let it go a few weeks and see if you’re getting the sour tang.

      TEMPERATURE: The warmer it is, the quicker it will ferment. Conversely, cooler temps will slow down the fermentation process. So for your jar if you find a warmer spot, that might help speed things up.

      Or, you can do as you suggested and drain some of the salty liquid. I have no idea if that would stop fermentation altogether, or whether it might work just fine. Does it taste SUPER salty? If not, I wouldn’t worry and just let it ferment longer. Good Luck – Holly

  • dje3

    Nice instructions and good feedback. I have been making kimchee and kraut for a while. I find that not placing a lid on the jar at all works best for me. Instead I take a coffee filter and rubber band it onto the jar. The kraut is of coarse weighted down under the brine. The coffee filter protects the jar from contamination and insects and does not allow pressure to build up. Whenever I test the kraut I just change the coffee filter.

    Also, I use a ziplock bag of marbles to weight the kraut down. works well and we have never lost our marbles (smile). With regard to Kraut caps…as long as the jar is sealed, the pressure will force the gasses out through the air trap. It does not harm anything to have the trap water become inoculated with the brine, however be sure next time to leave me head space , you want an air gap between your kraut (or beer) and the trap, and the trap keeps outside air from coming into the fermentation chamber.

    • Hello, Thanks for taking the time to share all your great tips with readers. There is more than one way to make delicious sauerkraut, thank goodness. People from all over the world are entering the wonderful world of fermentation and they have to get creative with what is locally available.

      Kraut caps are great, but I suggest just using available lids and saving your money to eventually purchase a new-style ceramic crock, complete with water moat, my preferred method for fermenting sauerkraut. Happy Fermenting!

  • Karen Gray Duey

    Hi. I”m new to fermenting. I’m making sauerkraut juice in jars. The sauerkraut is floating in the jars, so some is exposed to air at the top and as of today has some white mold on it. What should I do?

    • Hi Karen, Did you mean sauerkraut “juice”? I would skim off the white mold, make sure you have a lid on it and find a way to hold the cabbage down in the jar. Do you have a smaller jar you can put inside? A clean rock? Good Luck.

  • Karen Gray Duey

    Yes. I meant sauerkraut “juice” not Kraut itself. I followed a recipe that just allows the kraut and water to sit in a jar for about 10 days. It’s in my fridge now, but I’m leery. I don’t really know what it’s supposed to taste like. I usually drink the kraut juice that’s in my saurkraut, not juice that was made differently……….. thank you for your response.

    • Hi Karen, I’ve never made the juice but would love to try so. I lurk to 2 good Facebook groups that discuss fermenting all sorts of stuff. You might find answers there. “Fermenting Frenzy” and “Fermenters Kitchen.”

      I understand the “leeriness” and experience it myself when I delve into a new ferment. Trust your gut instinct… and nose! Did you add salt and create a brine for the juice? 1 tablespoon salt for 2 cups waters to a good brine ratio.

  • bryan t

    Hey there! Great site and very helpful info! I used 1/4 cup of brine from my previous pickle ferment- it was a little dark and I only poured it on the top (I thought I needed to fill the entire jar, now I know better!). Now the entire jar has that dark color (1 week later) but it is bubbling through the airlock like crazy!! Am I ok with this? Is the color likely due to the brine I added? I hate to discard- I think it is very active and the airlock seems to be pushing lots of CO2 (and liquid) through.

    • Hi Bryan, Sorry for not getting back to you sooner… Bubbling like crazy is fine, especially during the first week. Hard to guess where the brown color came from, though uneven salt, too warm or air exposure are the common culprits. I wouldn’t worry about the color – though not ideal – and wait and taste it around week 3 and see if you like the taste. Learn and try again 🙂

  • Karen Gray Duey

    Thanks so much Holly, for the facebook tips and also the tip about the brine. I do make a brine by massaging the cabbage, but I’m not always sure exactly how much salt to use.

    • For your sauerkraut juice: Maybe weigh the cabbage and then use 2% salt. For example, 100 grams cabbage = 2 grams salt. Then add enough brine (1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water) to fill your jar. Then, everything is at the right salt ratios. Make sense?

  • Nancy Fowler Christenson

    Thanks for the great site. I was looking to find out if I could use my Celtic sea salt for sauerkraut. Not only did I find that you recommend complete salt, but I found much help otherwise and a new zeal to try sauerkraut again. (My first attempt at sauerkraut was last year–and a flop.) I’ve made up a number of jars of various combos. My question: On day four I saw the brine level had dropped below the surface of veggies, the top layer was light brown, and the glass from there to the top was covered in scum. I took off the lid and little jar, wipe the glass with a hot wet cloth, and screwed the lid on a little more tightly. The brine has come back to a good level. This is day seven. That top layer is still brown, though it is submerged. Is it safe to sample? Should I scape away the discoloured part?

    • Hello Nancy, Yes the brine can drop below the surface after the first few days. Not ideal, but can happen, especially after the first few days. Brown kraut still safe but not as high in vitamins as the stuff below it. I would go ahead and toss the discoloured and enjoy the rest.

  • Tda

    Holly, thanks for the tip on the cabbage-to-salt weight ratio. It seems much more accurate than using teaspoons and tablespoons, which can vary in size. As well, the coarseness of salts can vary greatly, which affects how much can fit into a measuring spoon.
    Question: When using Himalayan Pink Salt, do you grind it first, or use it in its coarse form?

    • Hello, You’ll want to use in as “fine” because it will dissolve better. I would just buy it “fine” if you can. If not grind it or if that’s too much of a hassle, experiment with a batch and see if it will work for you weighed out as coarse.

      Yes, weighing is more accurate (you’re right with coarseness varying greatly) but for the jar-sized batches or even a 5-pound triple batch, the tablespoon seem to be accurate enough.

  • Tda

    I haven’t been able to find a fine-grind Himalayan salt — or any other “whole” salt — locally, so I’ll get it by mail order. I always make my sauerkraut in a one-gallon crock. This last batch (on Nov. 6) was made with Hain’s sea salt, which I realize contains an anti-caking agent. I’ll use a better salt next time. I’ve recently invested in a digital scale, and I’ve started measuring in metric units for more accuracy. Only time will tell if greater accuracy makes better sauerkraut.

    • Sounds like you have all the makings/skills for some superb sauerkraut. Just do the best you can on the salt. Enjoy the fermentation journey and best of luck.

  • Tda

    Holly, on your recommendation I went to the SaltWorks website and ordered 5 lbs. of fine-grained Pink Himalayan salt. Can’t wait for it to arrive, and thanks for the tip!

  • DeeAnn

    Hi I was wondering do you have a great pickling recipe

    • Hello Dee Ann, I’ve never been a pickle eater so have not done much in the way of pickles. Partway down this post of mine ( under the book “Real Food Fermentation” is a video by Sarah Pope on making pickles. You might find that helpful.

  • DeeAnn

    Hi holly yesterday I made my first batch of sauerkraut and I was told to just use a cheese cloth on top do I need to put a lid on it loose this was before I found your sight

    • Hello DeeAnn, Ideally, you want a lid on. Sauerkraut is an anaerobic (no air) process. By keeping the air out (with a lid of some sort) there is less chance for surface molds and yeasts to grow on the surface of your ferment. So, I recommend a lid over cheesecloth.

      So, do what you can with the batch you just made and then work through my recipe and see how that works for you.

      • DeeAnn

        Thank you so much your site is so helpful love it

        • You’re more than welcome. Let me know how your next batch of sauerkraut turns out :-).

      • DeeAnn

        Starting my new batch found the pink salt at Walmart I’m excited so I have four head of lettuce 1607 ml 1600 ml 1377 ml and 2206 ml I know you said a tablespoon for every 1500 but mine very so what is the best way to get the salt right and can I use a little johnnys season salt for a little kick thanks again

        • DeeAnn, Are you doing a big batch in a crock or smaller batches in a crock? I assume you bought CABBAGE and not lettuce 🙂 as you said in your email.

          It is 1 tablespoon for every 800 grams. So, check that you can put your scale in grams or pounds then let me know what size batch you’re making.

  • DeeAnn

    I have four heads of cabage not lettuce sorry two green and two purple about 14 pounds all shereded up feels my big water bath pan I can’t get my scale to grams sorry

    • OK. Pounds is fine. At close to 15 pounds and figuring 3 tablespoons salt for 5 pounds cabbage, I would add 8-9 tablespoons of salt in and mix well, let sit for about 30 minutes. Then, massage well until you have your brine. Pack into jars and use some sort weight to hold below the brine and lightly screw lid on. Make sense?

  • DeeAnn

    Makes perfect sense got it my first batch I made did not call for this much salt will it go bad before it torments should I add more salt it look great but it don’t tadt as salty thank you for all your help

    • DeeAnn, Just leave your first batch alone. You won’t need to ferment it as long because of using less salt. Taste it and if you like it, put it in the fridge.

    • DeeAnn

      Hi holly something went wrong my cabbage in my jars look great but when I opened one of the jars wow the smell was herific nothing was in side the jars little dry on top but the lids was covered around the sides with black mold it looks like and a rotten sewage smell

      • TOSS! Learn from your mistakes and try again. We can try to trouble shoot on what happened with that jar. Maybe share how much salt and how it was packed.

  • Judy Ann Flores

    Hi Holly, I have tried making sauerkraut several times and have yet to actually dare to eat any of it. I have never seen any mold or kahm yeast but fir some reason, I never get any bubbling action. I have a jar going now and have opened it a few times to push the brine back up . A few days ago I opened it and it had kind of an off smell, not really a horrible smell but not a sauerkraut smell either. I covered it back with the lid and just checked it again today, it smells like it should now but still no sign of bubbles, it has a lot of brine. I really want to eat it but don’t want to get sick from it.. ?

    • Hi Judy, Ahh the fears of eating something left on our counter to rot! Yet… we have no fear eating a can of something made by a stranger in a huge factory. You’re not alone.

      Are you sure you never had any bubbles? Most of the bubbling action happens in the first few days.

      Was it too cold? You need room temperature for the lactic-acid bacteria to start their work.

      If you got lots of brine and the brine level moved up the jar during the first week, fermentation is happening.

      Did you follow my recipe? And, put in salt? Then, you should be fine. The bacteria lower the pH in the jar and prevent – along with the salt – any of the bad bacteria from growing. If it smells fine – pungent, but not unappealing – then taste a bit. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • nana

    Hi Holly, I’m about to start my first batch following your instructions and I’m wondering–is there a reason I should not use a jar larger than 1 quart for the 1¾ pounds (28 ounces, 800 grams) vegetables? Would the extra empty space pose a problem to proper fermentation? Thanks so much.

    • Nana, A larger jar won’t hurt. The reason why I use the quart jars is they are readily available and inexpensive.

      Also, the 1¾ pound matches perfectly with 1 tablespoon salt and fits into the jar nicely. Truthfully, a bit bigger jar would be better. Often, the brine overflows and you loose some of that nice moisture. So, I went with a balance between jar size and salt amount. Keeping it under the brine is important, too so you might have to come up with another idea for a weight or just do a bigger batch of sauerkraut.

      • nana

        Thank you, Holly, I think I’ll use a larger glass jar filled with water and fitted with a lid as a weight. Also, on a separate note, my daughter, who is abroad, wants to make sauerkraut and she does not have access to plastic lids. Is it okay to just use a large glass jar (like the ones marinated artichokes come in) with whatever lid it has as long as the sauerkraut does not touch the lid? In this case, since a metal lid is less flexible, should the lid be left loose so gas can be released? Thank you very much again.

        • No worries Nana, Have your daughter use what she has available. I just have a personal preference for the white lids.I like their clean lines and that they are one piece… As the metal lids get older, the acidic component of the sauerkraut corrodes the lid. Yes, leave the lid slightly looses for the gases to escape. Happy Fermenting!

  • nana

    Holly, I’m happy to report that your technique is truly fool-proof. I’m on my third week of fermentation and sauerkraut is doing beautifully. Plenty of brine since the beginning. That was never a problem. I take a picture every day and the brine is clear with some bubbling. So far I’ve only tried the juice and it is just delicious. I have a few questions for you. What’s the appropriate way to store sauerkraut for gift giving? Do I put it in glass jars and remove the juice or should the juice always stay with the cabbage through the life of the sauerkraut? How long do I say they have to eat it once refrigerated? Thank you!

    • HI Nana, Fool-proof sauerkraut! Just what I love to hear. Thanks for letting me know.

      Gift giving? I would pack it into glass jars, 8 oz (500 ml) are a nice size. This is when I would use the canning lid and rim or something that seals well so the jars don’t leak during transport.

      Leave the juice in; keep it with the sauerkraut as you pack it. I use a slotted spoon to pack the jars and then divvy up the leftover brine among the jars. Will last up to one year stored in the refrigerator. Hope your lucky friends and family enjoy it!

    • Hello Nana, Thank you for your kind words. Truly fool-proof. 🙂 For gift giving – it’s great you’re sharing the goodness! – pack into the size jar you want to gift it in. The pint jars are nice. Pack with its juice. You’ll find it mixes with the fermented cabbage and you don’t end up with much at the bottom of your jar. If you have some brine left over when you finish eating the contents of the jar either drink it or pour it into another finished jar.

      You might want to use the metal lid and rim to prevent brine leaking out during transport. It’s OK if it’s not refrigerated for a few days. But the lucky recipient will want to store it in the fridge for up to a year, except the beet ones that should be eaten within 6 months. (Colors fade.)

  • Robert Sandberg

    Holly, can potassium chloride or sylvite (natural mineral rich potassium chloride) be used in the place of salt (sodium chloride)?

    • Hi Robert, I’ve never heard of using potassium chloride. Not sure why you would want to use it instead of salt.

      Salt is necessary to keep the good bacteria multiplying and the bad bacteria at bay. If you’re worried about eating too much salt, use a mineral-rich salt (Himalayan Pink) and understand you are eating sauerkraut in small quantities. Hope this helps. Fill me in on the reason for the potassium chloride. Always wanting to learn…

  • samfrepal

    Love your website. Thanks for advocating digital scales and metric system in general. It’s so much darn easier. I bake bread and when I see volume measurements, I sigh.

    Question: Mineral rich salts, such as Sel Gris, Himalayan, Hawaiian, etc, have a slightly reduced amount of NaCl in them. I’ve read that Hawaiian Sea Salt is as much as 17% non NaCl minerals. If you use one of these tastier salts, do you slightly jack up your salt ratio, e.g. 1000 grams cabbage to 24 grams salt? (instead of a strict 20 grams per your guidelines) Do you ever use kosher salt? Some people use kosher salt for everything, some people hate it. Thanks

    • Digital Scales. Yes, once I bought a quality digital scale (My Weigh KD8000) in which I can program it to NOT shut off automatically, my life has changed. Now, when I do big batches in a crock, it is sooo much easier to get the amounts right, especially with grams.

      Mineral-rich salts. I now use only Himalayan Pink salt (or similar mined salt), a dry salt. I no longer recommend Sel Gris or any of the other “wet” salts due to sea water impurities, chance of molds and variance in NaCl percentages from the evaporation process. (Oops, need to update my Salt post – after I get my eBook out :-).

      Even though these salts are not 100% Sodium Chloride, the numbers I share work just fine and are what is still recommended. I need to make a batch with a 100% NaCl salt, just a processed salt from the grocery store, to see what the end product tastes like. My guess when people complain of their sauerkraut tasting way too salty, is that they used pure NaCl.

      If you want to try the 24 grams, you shouldn’t notice much difference. As salt is increased, fermentation is slowed.

      Kosher salt. I never use because it too is a processed salt and I like to include the extra minerals in the Himalayan Pink in my ferments. Also, the larger grain takes longer to dissolve and I want all my salt dissolves before I pack my jar.

  • Zeynel Ahmet

    Thanks, for this post. I’ve been trying several methods for a couple of months now with varying success. I even bought an air lock and I have one going with that. Now I’m glad to read that gas can escape if the lid is not screwed tight. But how do we know air does not enter the jar if the lid is not tight? And I’m glad to read that after 7-10 days good bacteria has taken over and there is no chance of mold. I was always worried that after opening to taste some mold would form. I would also like to share a trick that I tried in order to press the cabbage down without a weight. I don’t use a cylindrical jar but a square jar. I cut the cabbage in quarters and save the quartered cores. After covering the sauerkraut with a wide leaf, I press the cores down on each corner of the jar. This pushes down the top leaf below the brine. So far, after a few days everything is under the brine. And one more thing. I am planning to try fermenting in oak barrels. I’m curious to know if that would make a difference in taste. Thanks again for this inspiring post.

    • Happy New Year Zeynel, Air entering jar? I assume it does, unfortunately, which is why there are people who won’t ferment in a mason jar. I’ve never had concerns. The jar method is inexpensive, doable and works.

      Opening to taste? Fermentation is a beautiful process and tasting along the way to determine the best length of time for your taste buds is part of the process. Once I used proper salt ratios, I found it stable and very forgiving.

      Cabbage core as weight trick. Love it. Will try it. The one thing I don’t like about using the small jar as a weight is that is takes up space and decreases the amount of space for brine. I now have a drill press and will try drill a hole in the bottom of the jar (so brine can flow into it) and see it that helps prevent brine overflow. Cabbage cores as weights might also serve the same purpose, and far simpler, and gives us something to use the core for :-).

      Fermenting in oak barrels. I would assume it would impact the flavor – in a good way – just as happens with wine. Enjoy the wild and wonderful world of fermentation.

  • Earthly Chow

    I usually use green cabbage, but will try with some red cabbage also !

    • It’s fun to try different cabbages. You might find that your sauerkraut takes a bit longer to ferment with the red cabbage. Nice tips on your recipe.

  • samfrepal

    Hi Holly. I DO use a food processor when making kraut. I don’t like mandolins….except in bluegrass bands. Anyway, thanks again.

    • I’m glad the food processor works for you. Do you use the feed tube or the s-blade? I guess it would be better to add some tips on how to use the food processor to slice cabbage for those that prefer it.

      • samfrepal

        It’s an old cuisinart. THirty years old. Definetly not the s blade. It cuts from the top. Wish I could be more specific. But it’s VERY fast. No bloody knuckles.

  • samfrepal

    Two comments: I always do a red/green cabbage combo. The red is such a pretty red when it bleeds out. And two, I do cook with my kraut, as I like cooking pork and sausage in a kraut stew. Am I losing all the probiotic goodies when I do that? It sure tastes good nonetheless. On a cold winter night, sausage braising in kraut….yum…..

    • Artwork! Yes, I too like the colors of my sauerkraut.

      Cooking with kraut. I have a favorite recipe with red cabbage, apples and pork. Yes, you do loose the probioitc goodies when you cook it. To make up for it, just add a spoonful of your sauerkraut to the top of the dish when serving.

      • Kelly

        Just a comment…On a recent visit to Germany last week, we dined at one of the oldest German restaurant in Heidelberg, built in 1706, and which has also been under the same family and most of the same recipes for 170 years. They cook their sauerkraut after they ferment it and it is SO much easier to eat and the taste was amazing. Although you lose probiotic benefits of cooking sauerkraut, the acetic acid and lactic acid which are produced are still retained and the cooking may even break down the kraut even further to allow our bodies to absorb even more nutrients. So, I actually see a benefit to both the cooked kraut and the raw kraut and I believe implementing cooked kraut to dinner meals may have benefits that are different from raw kraut and which raw kraut cannot duplicate. I see benefits to both and I’m beginning to believe that it may be beneficial to incorporate cooked kraut or cooked fermented veggies into weekly meals for different benefits from those obtained from the raw. Again, there may be different benefits from both raw fermented and cooked fermented veggies.

        • Lived in Germany.. many years ago and long before I fell in love with sauerkraut. I REALLY appreciate you sharing this perspective. With all of our food journeys, this is a gentle reminder not to get fixated on any one dogma and be open to fresh ideas. Yes, you probably are getting a broader range of benefits by varying the types – and ways of adding “cooked” foods into your diet. We need to be able to enjoy our meals – and awaken taste buds in many ways – instead of worrying if all is done perfect.

  • Gisele Pelletier

    Hello Holly…i already posted a letter but do not see it here. Just trying again to get through

  • Gisele Pelletier

    Hello again Holly… good it worked this time.
    Well it was a long letter with several questions, but at this point I seem to be doing good and want to thank you for clear information…and beautiful pictures. I am using your system with a little jar inside the mouth of the big one. I filled the small one with brine (salted water)…is this ok? My first batch is looking fabulous after 4 days, bubbles good and smell yummy. I am hooked, and will certainly vary the plain recipe…would you share ideas about flavoring seeds and vegetables (or fruits) that may be (or not be) suitable to use in combination with cabbage. Will try lovage seeds next time…these can be killer with pickles so possibly with sauerkraut too…will let you know……. Gisèle

    • Hello Gisele, Apologies about the posting challenge. All is good now. You’re welcome! I’m glad to help.

      Filling jar with brine? Fine, just put the lid on it and make sure the larger jar has a lid on it, too. Many do this if they are using a plastic bag as a weight. It’s in case the bag leaks, you’re keeping the brine ratio constant. I just put in the empty jar because as it pushes against the lid, all is kept under the brine, if that all makes sense.

      Flavoring seeds and other vegetables/fruits to ferment? I give some basic guidelines here:

      You can ferment just about anything, just keep the base to about 75% cabbage and all should be fine.

      The Facebook Group “Fermenters Kitchen” is also great. It’s a Closed Group so you have to ask to join.

      At, last but not least, my eBook has 12 recipes with a variety of flavorings.

  • Gisele Pelletier

    received your reply…thank you and i will check out the sites you mentioned

  • mark

    Hi Holly – thank you for these clear instructions.

    I would like to check one thing. When the sauerkraut is in the fridge,
    is it still necessary to add brine if it is not fully submerged?

    • Hello Mark, I used to add brine to the jars in my fridge that weren’t fully submerged and found that it diluted the flavor I worked so hard to create. So, I stopped doing it. Ideally, you want it under the brine but I have not seen enough loss in color (and nutrients) in the top section that is not covered in brine to warrant it.

      • mark

        Thank you very much, Holly

  • Gisele Pelletier

    Hello Holly…it is me again…started my first batch 10 days ago. I thought the cabbage could ferment for several weeks, but although there were bubbles at first there does seem to be any activity now or in the last few days ,,,just moved it from a location that got a little too warm, so perhaps it fermented fast??? can it be done this quickly? Please help me clarify this: i though fermentation can go on and on (unless refrigerated)

    • Yes, Gisele fermentation is always happening. Generally, it’s only during the first week that you see a lot of activity. After that, it gets pretty quiet. Taste it and if you like the texture and tang, call it done. Warmer it is, the faster it ferments. Cooler it is, the slower it ferments. In the fridge, it is still fermenting but at a very slow rate.

  • Gisele Pelletier

    good answer……… i am on to making a batch of Kim Chi…….this is sooohh much fun!

    • Great to hear you’ve caught the “bug!”

  • Ravin

    Hi Holly, My jar is now week 2 into the fermentation. And we’ve been sampling spoonfulls of sauerkraut daily to add our dinner since week 1. Though the contents are below the brine, there are bits of cabbage that get stuck to the sides of the jar above the brine level. Possibly because of the way we scoop out the sauerkraut out of the jar each day.

    Now should we be concerned about the small pieces that are left on the sides of the jar (still inside the jar, but above the brine level)? Could mold begin to form on these and contaminate the contents?


    • No worries. I find if all is below the brine that first week, a good fermentation environment has been established and you won’t see mold after that, even with the bits that cling to the jar. Once you decide it’s done fermenting, keep it in the fridge. Eventually, you’ll have enough jars and won’t have to dig into the one you’re fermenting, but it’s a good way to know how long you like your kraut aged.

  • Gisele Pelletier

    Hello Holly
    It is me again….i harvested the 10 day old batch today and there is no liquid at all inside the jar (which was packed very very tightly) Now i am thinking i could have just left the jar in fermentation while picking some kraut to eat from time to time like Ravin is doing….i am a little afraid of tasting it although it has no undesirable sign….looking good but no liquid. Should i make a brine to keep it in the fridge for a while?

    • Hi Gisele, Thanks for all your questions. I need to update the post to clarify these bits… You’re fine. If you push down on the kraut with a fork you’ll get some brine coming to the surface. As long as you used the proper amount of salt (not exact, but in the ball park) , you’ve established a safe environment and lactic acid has built up and is preserving your kraut.

      Have fun with it, as you are. It’s OK to grab a taste. It’s how you learn what it tastes like throughout the various stages of fermentation. You can cover it with a brine, as I used to, but I find it dilutes the flavors.

  • Clarker1

    Hi Holly – I feel like you may have already answered this question but I just want to be sure… It’s about the 5th day of my current kraut. I check everyday to make sure everything (except some random “floaters”) are below the brine. I also check because I love the smell! So here it is day 5, and the cabbage pushed itself to the top of the jar. Not just a few pieces – all the cabbage so it was almost dry. There is no mold or brown pieces and It smells good. This is my second time experiencing this issue – the first time was with an apple kraut I attempted. I threw that batch away. Is it safe? I share my krauts with friends and family because I’m so excited about the taste and health benefits. I don’t want to get anyone sick. Thank you!

    • “Love the smell.” Spoken by a true sauerkraut aficionado! 🙂

      By day 5, you’re close to having a rather stable environment and it is sometimes dry be usually a few days later in the game. This also depends upon the temperature in the house – and how old your cabbage is. When it’s colder, the brine seems to disappear.

      Most likely all is good and yes, you don’t want to get anyone sick. Do the smell test. Cheesy, musty, moldy = not good.

      • Clarker1

        Thanks for your quick response! the house is quite chilly overnight. Maybe that’s what happened. As far as the smell test – I used jalapeños and garlic in this batch so that’s mostly what I smell :). Any other way to make sure all is well? I pushed it back under the brine right away.

        I’m so happy I found this site while searching for an answer to this issue! You are great!


        • Thank YOU!

          Fermentation is a very safe way of preserving foods. As long as you’re using the right amount of salt and keep things under the brine as best you can, you should be fine.

          You can use pH paper to test the acidity. Below 4.0, it’s safe to consume. Keep in mind, fermenting foods makes them safer to eat than the vegetables you started with. It’s a process that kills off any bad bacteria hanging out on the vegetables and cabbage.

  • Jimh77

    Well tonight I made my very first quart jar of hope full goodness. My jar actually resembles the one shot of yours so it looks so far that I did it right. One change I did, I used a SS bowl and a old potato masher and mashed like a machine. Watching the brine be created was awesome.
    I did find a small mushroom jar that fit inside the jar, but I could not put the lid on, so I put the cap ring on to help guide the smaller jar and keep it in the center, it rose the brine just to the top of the quart jar and no floaters. I put a small towel over it to keep it from any dust or critters to get in. But it is winter time and no critters are inside at the moment. Can’t wait to taste it already!. I did use Himalayan salt, tried to match the grind from your picture on the web site as it is very course in the jar.
    Just made, I will update you in a week. If I post in T I’ll send a link. Really excited about this simple process to make good healthy Good Eats!
    Already thinking of the next project!

    • Great to hear! Good idea on the small mushroom jar. I’ll add it to my ongoing list for alternatives to the jar I suggest. I look forward to seeing the finished yumminess! Time for me to get the KrautStars page done for you all to post pictures on.

  • Sherilyn Almeida

    Hello Holly, its a week now since I made my first batch of sauerkraut. It’s sitting 1 inch under brine. Cannot wait to get a taste. I want to start another batch going. My question to you is – can I decant the sauerkraut to another container/jar so I can start my next batch? Many thanks.

    • Hello Sherilyn, I would not recommend disturbing all the good action going on in that jar right now. Get creative, resourceful and see what you can do to get more jars. You will need them once you fall in love with the taste of what you’re fermenting.

      I guess I should ask, what you’re fermenting in?

      • Sherilyn Almeida

        Hi Holly, thanks for your reply. I like the jar so wanted to use the same again. It is an all glass sweet jar which is perfect. I’ve attached a picture. Any bits on the side of the jar are because I have dug in.

        • Such a sweet jar. I totally understand the attachment :-).

          All looks good. It probably wouldn’t hurt after the 7-10 day mark to transfer.

          Next time, I would use more cabbage (looks like you could use 2 1/2 pounds and 1 1/2 tablespoon salt) to fill the jar closer to the top and use a smaller jar as a weight.. if you want. Makes for less air space. Thanks for the picture. It sure helps!

          • Sherilyn Almeida

            Thank you for that! I did think I could use more next time but wasn’t sure of quantities. Now I know thank you. Tastes good. Thank you for your step by step recipe. It gave me the confidence to go for it

  • Justin M

    Very happy I found your site!
    Your instructions are clear and concise.
    Can’t wait to get started!

    • Good to hear Justin. Thank you. Let me know how it goes.

      You might want to also read through the SureFire Sauerkraut in a Crock post. That post is newer and has more helpful tips in it that should mostly relate to fermenting in a jar. I need to redo this one, just haven’t gotten around to it.

  • cindasana

    Ugh…I’m trying kraut for the first time using your recipe and I’m not sure if I botched it or not. 🙁 It’s on day 9 now and I just realized that the brine had gone down below the cabbage leaf ‘lid’ on top of the kraut, but I don’t know when that happened. I opened it up and added some more brine (as per your 2c water, 1tbsp salt directions) and had a sniff – it just smells like garlic and dill to me…nothing vile like the onions I ruined at the same time in the same fashion (they were *definitely* putrid!). Is there a chance I could still end up poisoning my husband and I with the kraut? Desperately hoping to hear that it’s probably alright! lol

    • Hello, You are fine!

      I often have the same problem after the first week of furious and expansive activity. After that, everything gets quiet and it appears that all the brine has disappeared. Press down with a fork and you’ll see brine rise to the surface.

      During that first week, a safe and balance environment was created and all is safely preserved. You can keep adding more brine, but I hate to dilute the flavors by doing so. Enjoy your sauerkraut.

      • cindasana

        Thank you so much for the speedy reply! ^_^ Soooo glad all that effort wasn’t wasted! Losing the onions was bad enough. 😉

        • You’re welcome! Here’s a link for how to do the brine ratios for onions (I need to make my own char!):

          I also have a pickled onion recipe – that uses lime juice – in my ebook, if you’re ever interested :-),:

          • cindasana

            Oh, hey! That sounds really good! Thanks, Holly! 🙂

          • cindasana

            By the way, I tried the sauerkraut yesterday and it was fantastic! Soooo much better than anything I’ve bought at the store! Lots of garlic and dill. :p~ I’ve left it out another night to see what it tastes like one day later. 😉 What’s the longest you’ve left it out before refrigerating it?

          • So good to hear. Nice combo. Garlic and dill. The longest I’ve fermented a jar? Probably 6 weeks. Test about every 5 days until you find just the flavor you want. 🙂

  • anand kumar

    Hi, I have tried making sauerkraut as per your instructions. Today it is the 9th day, and I am not sure whether it is going fine or not. I have used a clamp jar. It is air tight, but I do keep it loose for some time every day for carbondioxide to gush out. I am sending you its pic, plz tell me whether its going fine or not. Also plz, comment on the different coloured patch seen in the jar.

    • Amand, Lovely! All is going fine.

      I wouldn’t worry about releasing gases anymore. The bulk of gas-producing activity happens during the first 5 days, so you shouldn’t see much more now.

      Hard to say what caused that pinkish patch. You have lots of brine. One guess would be uneven salt distribution or perhaps an air pocket. More likely just the variances of fermenting, but nothing to worry about. Congrats on your beautiful – edible – artwork!

      • anand kumar

        Thanks Holly, Now I am bit relaxed. So I need not be opening it now on regular basis? Also, when is it ready for eating?

        • No more need to open the jar. It is ready for eating when you like the taste.

          You could take out the jar, taste it and then either put it in the fridge or repack the jar with the little jar and let it ferment for 3-4 weeks total. If it’s been warm, I’d stop at fewer days; if it’s been cooler, you can let it ferment on the longer side.

          • anand kumar

            Hi Holly,
            As per instructions, I let it get fermented for total 23 days. And it looks like this…

            (the temperature here is quite warm) What should be my next step??

          • Hello Anand, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I would go ahead and put it in the refrigerator and enjoy it. If you want, you can remove and toss that top browned bit, most likely from fermenting in extra warm temperatures.

          • anand kumar

            Thanks Holly, I followed your instructions. It is now in the refrigerator. I have removed the upper brown portion. I am not sure if it is properly fermented. I tasted it…. It is crunchy, just like raw cabbage…..only taste is salty and sour. Really Confused!! Please tell me, how does a sauerkraut tastes??

  • Lauren DeVico

    Hi! Thanks for the great article. I am going to start next week and am scared! My question is, because exposed to some air, won’t the circular piece of cabbage form mold? Also, if using a metal lid, do I just lightly screw it on? I want to leave enough room for the gasses to escape, but don’t want oxygen to get in.

    • Hello Lauren, Yes, making sauerkraut for the first time can be a nerve racking experience. The circular piece of cabbage – or floaties trap – will end up under brine, so it won’t mold.

      Yes, just lightly for the metal lid to let gases escape. Best of luck and if you weigh your cabbage and have the salt right, everything will be just fine. Congrats on making the plunge into the wonderful world of fermentation.

  • Susie Mueller

    Hello Holly, What an amazing amount of valuable information. You are a wonderful teacher. Everything broken down in easy to follow steps. Your pictures are beautiful as well.
    I wanted to know your thoughts on using folded collard greens to use to keep the cabbage under the brine? I have an abundance in my garden. Also I wanted to know if you are concerned about lead when using glass as a weight to hold down the cabbage? I do use glass weights specifically made for fermenting.
    Will the probiotic availability be much more intense if I let the ferment stay at room temperature for a longer period. I read the longer the better.
    I wish I would have found your site a year ago when I first started making my first batch. I did lots of research before I began and am still learning. I have done cabbage with carrots, onions, celery seeds. Fermented Jalapeño peppers (produce lots in my garden). Interested in learning about using other vegetables. Not sure if collards will make a good ferment. Want to learn about Kombucha. Looking forward to reading your whole site and joining your newsletter. Thank you….

    • Thank YOU, Thank YOU, Thank YOU!

      Folded collard greens should be fine though I’ve never done so. They can be intense flavor wise, but just for a “floaties trap” should work. If you want to try fermenting with them, I would go 50/50 with cabbage as an experiment.

      Lead in glass weights. Yes, that is a concern for me which is why I stay away from non-food items (marbles, large flat glass “jewels”) and use the canning jars. And, even then I don’t buy the cheaper made-in-China jars.

      Probiotic count. I’ve read that day 21 is when it peaks. Longer is not necessarily better. But, I feel you have a better environment when fermenting in a 5-liter crock or larger and thus better probiotics (no specific research to back this up).

      Kombucha. No post on that topic yet, but tomorrow I will be posting about Fermented Coconut Water. Probably better for you and easier to make. You’ll get notified if you’re on my list, else just look for it.

      Keep on learning. Fermentation is a great way to use up garden goodies.

  • Ash Dixon

    First jar of Sauerkraut done thanks to this blog. Great and easy to follow (even for an Aussie male) and looked amazing.

    Can’t wait for a week but know l must for the fermentation.

    Thanks so much

    • Congratulations! Now time to watch the show! Or, what little there is… bubbles rising to the surface.

      You’re welcome. First jar of many… I hope.

  • Anne Hutton

    I never leave comments on anything, but I just have to say that this is the clearest and most useful site I’ve found on sauerkraut! Thank you 🙂 I have a batch of cabbage and one of turnip fermenting (hopefully well!) in the pantry for almost a week now (first attempt), and looked at so many sites and Youtube videos to try and find the right method! Wish I’d found your site before! I have a sandwich bag filled with baking beads as my weight on top of my leaf (best thing I could find at home!)
    My question is this: I didn’t seal my Kilner jar lid, just left it loose and covered the lid with a clean cloth and band. I’ve opened it a few times and given it a push down. There doesn’t seem to be any mold but the cabbage leaf catcher is a bit soggy. Should I seal the Kilner lid now or just leave as is with the cloth over it? So much conflicting info online about this particular point. Thank you!

    • Hello Anne, I am honored! Thank you for the compliments. They make my day!

      Pie weights/baking beads will do the trick. Being creative is part of the fermentation process.

      On the Kilner jars. Less air the better. Sauerkraut fermentation is an anaerobic process, meaning no air. Some are concerned about gases getting trapped in the jar and causing an explosion. You are past the first few days when the most gases are produced so I would push everything down and then clamp the lid and leave it to finish fermenting without letting in anymore air.

      If the turnips end up being too strong, mix them in with cabbage the next time.

      You’re always welcome to email if you want to avoid the comment system. 🙂 Happy Fermenting!

      • Anne Hutton

        Thank you so much Holly! I can’t wait to try it in a couple of weeks 🙂 Keep up the good work… I’ll enjoy browsing your site.

      • Anne Hutton

        Major success! Sauerkraut turned out yummy not scummy….thanks Holly x

        • Wonderful! Love that description… yummy, not scummy. Enjoy the goodness.

  • Cee be

    This is fantastically clear, step by step. Thank you so much for helping us beginners. Speaking of which, right now my jars are at the 24 hour mark for first attempt fermenting. I made a couple of mistakes, I think. First, my weight jars did not sink as much as I thought they would. So just now I pressed down and tons of bubbles came up from down inside the jars of cabbage. So I just now tried the bamboo stick method of retaining down. But because the liquid levels fell when I removed the weight jars, I topped off with the salt water. What do you think? I know time will tell, but do you think my mistakes were caught in time, or too many strikes? Thank you for any insights. I am determined to successfully ferment regardless of how many attempts it takes, and then teach my kids.

    • You’re quite welcome! I’m glad to help anyone interested to learning to make delicious fermented food. All sounds just fine.

      Weight jars. Don’t know exactly what you used for jars, but they can always be filled with salt water – for some extra weight – and a lid secured. Topping off with salt water is fine. I assume you used the 1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water ratio.

      It’s great to teach your children. They are always much more likely to eat something they’re had their hands in – literally – preparing.

  • Anne Hutton

    Hi Holly. I’ve another question please- regarding turnip-kraut this time. I made it with 2 large turnips and added about 10 tablespoons salt (I think….can’t remember exactly. This was done before I found your site!!) Fermented about 3 weeks. It tastes excessively salty, it’s unpalatable. I drained off the excess brine and topped up the jar with still water thinking that might water it down a bit. Still horrible salty. Any suggestions? I’m not sure if it’s even properly fermented or just sitting preserved in the over-salty brine at this stage!! I didn’t want to rinse it in case that rinsed off the probiotics (I’m a bit clueless here still!) Anne x

    • Anne Hutton

      Oh never mind Holly…. I’ve done my calculations properly this time and realise I used WAY too much salt (maths clearly isn’t my forte!). Back to the drawing board with a lovely new batch!

      • No worries Anne, If you have a digital scale you can set to grams, weigh what you plan to ferment, multiply by .02 and add that much salt in grams.

        For example: 1200 grams of goods x .02 = 24.00. Add 24 grams of salt.

        With the too salty kraut, mix it in with lettuce – or pasta – or something similar to distribute the saltiness.

        • Anne Hutton

          Thank you Holly! Just made a lovely batch of your cabbage, carrot and garlic kraut today to make up for it 😉

  • Matthew Sheldon Feuer

    Hi Holly, thank you for these wonderful instructions! I started my first batch of Kraut six days ago, so it should be ready for testing tomorrow. It looks and smells great, though I’m kind of nervous about trying it! I’ve never had raw, living Sauerkraut before! I’ve attached a photo of what my jar looked like this morning. Have a wonderful day!

    oh yeah, I just used cabbage in this recipe, as I wanted to try the kraut in it’s purest form.

    • Hello Matthew, Congratulations on your first batch of raw, living sauerkraut! Now, time to enjoy the powerful goodness. It looks fantastic. Sample away. Even one thin strand is a good place to start.

      P.S. I’ve never made the pure stuff. 🙂

      • Matt Shel

        Would you advise that I put the floatie catcher cabbage leaf and small jar back in after I’ve tried it, if I decide to keep fermenting it?

        • Hello Matt, I do just to keep things safe. However, the most active first few days is when it is most crucial. After that, the less active bacteria that are working don’t seem to push the kraut up the jar as happens in the first few days.

          • Matt Shel

            Thank you! I tried it and it is very interesting, and very different from store sauerkraut, I like it though! I decided to refrigerate this batch, and make another this weekend, with a longer fermentation time.

          • Good to hear, Matt. Store sauerkraut – especially canned & cooked stuff – does have a very different taste. Just wait until you try some the different flavored recipes…

  • Frankie

    Holly, I used many of your techniques making sauerkraut yesterday (4/30/16). But, I filled my jar too full. After 24 hours, is it best to leave well enough alone, or can I open the jar and remove some of the contents into a smaller jar? Thank you for this very useful and informative article.

    • Frankie, Glad to hear you’ve made some sauerkraut. Getting the amount just right in the jar can be a challenge. Usually you don’t want to disturb in the first few days, but I would probably go ahead and remove some. Have to give those little guys room to work.

      • Frankie

        Thank you Holly. The problem was seepage. Now that this has stopped, I’ll leave it to ‘note to self’ for future sauerkraut making. I thought I had left enough room in the jars (I only filled them to 75-80%). But I suppose the little jar holding the veggies under the brine factors in here as well. The liquid that leaked from under the lid smells delicious, BTW!!

        • Seepage! I’m still trying to solve that without going out and buying expensive weights. Yes, the jar does take up space – more than I would like. But, everything does settle down after the first few days. Enjoy the aroma.

  • Sandy

    Hi Holly. I started my first jar of sauerkraut about 3 weeks ago and I think I jumped the gun a little! I tasted a little and thought it was ready so I put it in the refrigerator last night. For lunch today I ate some and it was good but it’s not as sour as I thought or would like. Can I just return it to the counter? Or do I need to eat this jar like it is? I removed it with a clean fork but threw away the floatie catcher away.

    • Hi Sandy, It should be fine if you bring it back out to ferment. In the fridge, it is still fermenting, just at a much slower rate than on your counter. And, you’re OK without a floatie trap. Just push everything down with a fork. You may not be completely covered in brine but at this stage in the game, that is fine.

      • Sandy

        Thanks Holly! I’ve tried to make sauerkraut before (from another site) it was a complete fail. I appreciate your simple but detailed instructions. I think I’m going to try kimchi next!

        • Wonderful to hear and thank YOU, Sandy. Enjoy the Kimchi. No stopping you now!

  • Frankie

    Hi Holly: after opening to sample: is it best to remove the ‘floatie-trap’ and ’empty jar’ used to weight it down? I checked mine this afternoon (8 days after making) and it is not ready. Temp-wise I’m keeping it between 72° – 77°. I had to move it to a cooler room to keep a lower temp.

    • Hello Frankie, By the end of the first week, there is not the activity – forcing the sauerkraut to bulge and move up – as there was in the first week, so the “floatie trap ” and weight is not as crucial, so it’s fine not to put it back in. With the warm temps, if should be done closer to 2 weeks.

  • Linda Means-Kassis

    Hi Holly and everyone. I have 10 heads of cabbage going the old style in a crock but also wanted to try in the jars as per your recipe. What if I wanted a longer shelf life then didn’t have to be stored in the frig? What would be your suggestion for a finished product? From the days of my mother, they used zinc lids with the porcelain insert and a flat rubber ring and processed them in a hot water bath.

    • Hello Linda, Good to hear you have some sauerkraut fermenting. Shelf life? It’s a trade off between finding a cold place to store sauerkraut that is alive and improving your digestion – and health – and “canning” sauerkraut which kills most, if not all of the good bacteria.

      I opt for careful organization of my fridge to find the room to store the sauerkraut. You could also make the size batch that you have room to store in your fridge and then make the next batch as your stockpile is about gone if you want the benefit – and taste – of unprocessed sauerkraut.

  • Sandy

    Holly, I’m making a jar of sauerkraut and one of kimchi. They are at about 2 weeks and I noticed something that looks like bubbles around the weight jar above the float trap. Some look almost dry if that makes any sense. Is this ok?

    • Sandy, Looks great to me!!! Be proud of your accomplishment. The bubbles are normal and mean it is fermenting just fine. Brine levels are fine. It can look a bit dry as temperatures fluctuate in your home and once it passes the first week or so.

  • lorelei23

    This is all nicely detailed — except for the salt. You don’t say anywhere whether to use finely milled salt (like pickling salt, no additives), or coarse salt (like kosher). The picture looks like you’re using Pink Himalayan Salt, but other than warning not to use salt with anti-caking ingredients or iodized.

  • RoyRudy

    Hi, made first batch using Walmart’s “Marketside” Cabbage / carrot mix. Seems to be fermenting nicely after 1 day.
    Did you know a Tupperware lid from a sippy cup works perfectly as a floaty trap in a 1qt mason? -Roy

    • Hello Roy, Nice to hear of your success! Tupperware sippy cup lid? Who Knew! Enjoy.

  • Jaden

    Hi Holly,

    Attached is a photo of my first hopefully successful batch of Sauerkraut! But I’m still (mortally) afraid of eating it. I was hoping to get a green light from you!

    It’s been 11 weeks at about 65-75 degrees. I know it’s a little warm, but it still looks pretty green (much greener than bubbies!)

    I’m wondering though, it’s been above the brine the whole time. No matter what I do I can’t get the cabbage to stay down. But it doesn’t look like it went bad. I used a pickl-it airlock jar.

    Do you have any insight for me? I would love your opinion!

    Best regards,

    • Hello Jaden, It is so sad we all didn’t grow up a with a crock of sauerkraut in our basement. Then we would all know how to ferment and have no fears enjoying the goodness! And don’t worry, you’re not the only one afraid to eat it.

      It looks just fine! Dig in and enjoy!

      Next time a large cabbage leaf will help trap the bits floating to the surface. More ideas here:

      With the Pickl-it airlock jar you have the deck stacked in your favor. No way for air to get it which is why you don’t see mold. Also, though it’s not completely submerged, it’s coated in the brine and was probably under the brine during the first few days of fermentation.

  • Nicole H

    This is awesome!! Can’t wait to try it!!

    • Grab your supplies and you’ll be off and running.

  • Kiwi

    Do I drain the brine from the jar before storing in the fridge, or leave it full of brine until it’s all eaten? Thanks.

    • Anne Hutton

      I don’t drain the brine. Leave it. The juices are full of probiotics and I’ve found it kind of dries out itself over the course anyway.

      • Kiwi

        Thanks Anne.

    • As Anne says, don’t drain the brine. Brine in sauerkraut can be mysterious, disappearing at times. It’s related to temperature. Contracts in the fridge. Expands when warm. Ideally, there would be lots of brine and it would cover the sauerkraut.

      • Kiwi

        Thanks Holly.

    • subo

      The specific carbohydrate diet helped a daughter with candida overgrowth. Fermented cabbage is allowed and has provided much healing for her.

      • Kiwi

        Thanks, I am doing a low carb diet and it does help. I still have a small amount of potato daily and a banana every other day though. It’s very hard to cut all carbs out. I can go completely free of the spuds and banana but i miss them in my diet.

  • Anne Hutton

    Hi Holly. I hope you’re well! I’ve a question about my latest batch. I made 2 jars. One smells and tastes like normal (the smaller jar). The other has a very fruity almost pineapple-ish smell, doesn’t really smell like sauerkraut…and tastes a bit fruity too. It’s a pleasant smell, just not like sauerkraut. I do notice it’s very dry too, I think most of the brine fizzed up in the early stages. Should I top it up with some brine and pop in the fridge, or discard? Thanks, Anne x

    • Hello Anne, Dry sauerkraut? You can add brine, but I find it dilutes the flavors I work so hard to achieve. I used to add brine, but found it also found it would “disappear” being pulled back into the cabbage in the jar. I just leave them now and they seem fine even up to a year.

  • subo

    Holly, Your site is amazing! What is the advantage of using a water sealed crock vs the canning jar? Just wondering if there is a larger amount of beneficial enzymes produced with the longer fermentation?

    • Thank you! I always feel honored when one takes the time to pass on a compliment. Makes running this site all the more enjoyable.

      I have only come across “opinions” and not any hard evidence, but yes there is greater microbial activity in a large water-sealed crock than in a jar. You can just feel and “see” the difference when opening your crock. But, many love the quart-jar fermentation method and stick with that. And, as the methods for keeping a jar anaerobic improve, the bacterial activity in a jar will improve but I don’t think ever surpass a large crock. My experienced opinion!

      • I wonder if one reason for that is that mason jars are clear and all crocks are opaque? Other than that it would seem that a 2 gallon glass jar with airlock and gasket setup would be able to duplicate the volume of the larger crock. Just curious. I like experimenting 🙂

        • Yes, darkness plays a factor but I think size is important too. I’m thinking of a 5-liter crock as a minimum size for ideal action. I’ve never seen a 2-gallon glass jar? Keep on experimenting!

        • And also, the thicker walls of a crock allows for a cooler and more constant temperature for fermentation.

  • Kiwi

    Thanks for all the replies to my first question, now I have another 🙂 I’ve just moved my first ever jar of sauerkraut from the pantry to the fridge, I’ve removed the small jar that was pushing down on the saurkraut and the round piece for cabbage that was stopping the bits from float up. Do I have to worry about the cabbage that has floated to the surface and may be in contact with the air? Or is it OK now that the cabbage has been fermented and is refrigerated. Thanks.

    • Do nothing more :-), Properly fermented, those little bits and bobs seem to do fine. Enjoy the fermented goodness of your first-ever jar of sauerkraut. I hope I have you hooked!

      • Kiwi

        Thanks Holly. I am hooked, off to find more jars today and buy some red cabbage, carrots and beetroot 🙂 First time is difficult though, I think might have over salted and because I’ve never tried sauerkraut before I really have no idea if it smells right, tastes right or has even fermented. All part of the learning process I’m sure. Thanks for your help 🙂

        • If I caught you in time, hold off on the red cabbage. I’m hearing too many reports of it not fermenting as nicely as the green cabbage. Get a few jars under your belt first and then try the red. It tends to be a bit tougher and seems to take longer to ferment. And, weigh your ingredients and then you’ll know you’re adding the right amount of salt.

          • Kiwi

            Will do. Thank you.

  • Kiwi

    On to my second jar, less salt this time. Is there a maximum temperature that the good bacteria in Sauerkraut can handle before they die. I’ve been mixing mine in with my meals but am worried I’m killing all the good guys with the heat of the meal. Thanks.

    • As long as the dish is not piping hot you – or the good guys! – should be fine. I mix mine in with pasta or stir into warmed soup.

  • Kiwi

    ThaThanks Holly. Anyone have any reactions to the Sauerkraut? If I have too much I get what I think are candida die off symptoms, red face, itchy, feel unwell for about half an hour. I’m pretty sure it’s the good killing off the bad. Knocking my intact down a little and will build it up slowly.

    • Patricia S

      U could have histamine intolerance. It is my understanding that fermented foods are high in histamine.

  • Charma1ne

    Dear Holly, you can add us, in the far north of Scotland, to your pin board of 10k fermenters! Very useful and interesting information on your site, thank you. I read on a blog the other day, posted by a Korean person, that he/she salts the kimchi, leaves it for 12 hours then rinses off the salt and continues the fermenting process. Is this possible? It would be a very good alternative for people who are salt sensitive. Have you tried something like this or heard of this method of fermenting kimchi?

    • Welcome Scotland Fermenters. Now to just get my pin board of 10K fermenters in operation!!!

      Salting the cabbage leaves in a brine solution is a common practice with Kimchi – though I have no direct experience… yet! The rinsed off leaves are still salted. They absorb the salt just as shredded & salted cabbage would. If you’re salt sensitive I would use only a mineral-rich salt and then play around with the 2% ratio, slowing lowering it until you still get a decent ferment without mold or texture issues.

  • Charma1ne

    Hello Kiwi, I read on Summer’s sauerkraut website that eating too much sauerkraut too soon causes dieback issues and make you feel quite poorly. She recommended a forkfull, two forkfulls and up to a quarter cup, in increments, over the period of a month or two to have controlled dieback of bad bacteria that your body can detox safely.

  • Kevin Clark

    Hi Holly, tried a batch a sauerkraut using a vague recipe that resulted in me not covering my container leaving the brine exposed to the air. I noticed a few little bubbles on the top and am on day five. Can’t really smell anything. Will the fact that the jar is not covered prevent the process from working?

    • Hello Kevin, No, not covering your fermenting sauerkraut won’t stop fermentation but will allow molds and yeasts to possibly grow on the surface. You won’t always see a lot of action and if you do, it is usually during the first 3-5 days.

      Lack of action can be due to using too much salt or fermenting at too cool of temperatures. Try my recipe next; it’s not “vague” 🙂 and I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results.

      • Kevin Clark

        Thanks Holly. We’ll see how it works out. Your recipe is next on the agenda.

  • Rick Stewart

    Thank you so much for taking the time to pass on your knowledge to the rest of us.

    I’m in the midst of making my first batch. I’m about a week and a half in to the fermenting process. I got some bubbles over the first few days and things seem to be going well. So the problem is, Last night I took the lid off to remove the little jar and found that I couldn’t get the little jar out without upending the big jar and pouring all of my brine/lactic acid out in the sink!! ACK!!! So after I got the little jar out, I made a few more cups of brine (using your ratio of 1tbsp salt/2 cups water) and filled it back up and put the lid back on. Have I ruined the whole batch? Any advice at this point is appreciated.

    • Hello Rick, It sounds like you put the little jar in upside down!!! I did that my first time, too. I do have a note in the instructions on that, but it must of been missed. 🙂

      You did just fine with you troubleshooting and I doubt you have ruined the batch. Just let it ferment and see how it is in a week or two. Might take a bit longer to ferment due to messing with the original bacteria.

  • audreyheald

    Hi there, I’m trying fermentation for the first time ever, making kimchi using kale from my garden. Kale is pretty dry compared to white cabbage, so it doesn’t release a lot of moisture to make a good brine. I made just a small batch (2-3 inches’ worth in my 9-inch tall crock) and have weighed it down using a freezer bag filled with water. As it’s in a stoneware crock I can’t see the fermentation progress, and my primary question is whether I should add additional brine (1T salt to 2 c. water) or not. Will it still work without the additional brine, given it’s totally covered with the bag of water? It’s warm here in Switzerland – 90s F during the day, and about 78-80 in the house. Thank you for taking the time to help so many of us learn this new skill!

    • Hello and happy to help first-time fermenters. You’ll be a pro soon. Kale Kimchi! A few things…

      Brine. I would add brine to come up over the bag a bit. The liquid does a better job sealing than the plastic from your bag.

      Filling your crock. For future reference, it is better to fill the crock to within a few inches of the top to prevent exposing your ferment to much air. You want the size of your ferment to match the container chosen. Small jars work well for experimental batches.

      Warm temps. Ferment for a shorter than usual time period. With your temps, not much longer than 10 days…

      And… don’t be surprised if the Kale Kimchi is too strong to your liking. It is a strong green to ferment and I’ve yet to hear of anyone raving about the results, sadly. So, don’t swear off fermenting if it doesn’t turn out, but try a batch with cabbage.

      • Kimmy self

        Hey holly. I did two large batches of krout…94 QTS and its pretty and white and crunchy like I want but it just tastes like cabbage in water. Can I fix this or is it all bad? Thanks!

        • 94 quarts!!! Did I read that right. That is a lot of sauerkraut. You’ll be right up there with the Koreans on consumption: 1 quart per person per week.

          What were the recipe directions you followed? In your email, you said 1 tsp of salt. For how much cabbage?

          • Kimmy self

            I tsp per jar….I was told to pack the jars then put my salt in and then fill with water let set for 10 days then give hot water bath for 10mins

          • A very different method than I teach. You are following a recipe for hot-bath canning. This explains why it tastes just like cabbage in water. That’s all it is. 1 tsp of salt is not enough to ferment cabbage and I’m wouldn’t know numbers for hot bath canning. But, maybe once it is process in a hot water bath, the flavors will shift.

            Grab another head of cabbage and try this recipe. You’ll be amazed at the taste difference.

          • Kimmy self

            Thanks for the help!!! I also washed all my cabbage that I had already canned and added 1 cup salt 1 cup vinegar and 1 gallon of water it done about 9 jars then I put a pinch of sugar on top put the lids on it and now have it in a dark cooler room….how long should it set? My neighbor said 4-6weeks???

          • Again, new territory for me with which I have no experience. Vinegar is for tang and interferes with fermentation. But, it sounds like your neighbor has done this process before.

          • Kimmy self

            OK thanks !!! 🙂

  • Ryan Martin

    I have tried a couple times to make a batch of sauerkraut in a plastic food grade bucket and each time I had to skim off mold for the first 3 to 4 weeks. And for whatever reasons had to eventually throw them out because they did not smell right. My question is..does a mold form using this method in a jar or does keeping the jar closed prevent this from happening? Thank you.

    • Hello Ryan, Sauerkraut is best done anaerobically, that is WITHOUT air. So, in an open bucket, you have the whole surface exposed to all the bacteria that love air, which are molds and yeasts. Hence, easy mold growth.

      In a closed jar, with everything kept below the brine, molds and yeast can’t grown and the lactic-acid bacteria that make the sauerkraut take over and keep everything free of molds and yeasts.

      • Ryan Martin

        Thank you. I believe I will be trying the closed jar method next. Thanks for your tutorial. It perfectly explains the process and what is needed to make perfect kraut. Thanks again!

        • You’re welcome. Let me know how it works for you.

          • Ryan Martin

            I was wondering about the fermentation time. You say it is ready in about 7-10 days. I was wondering what would happen if you went longer, say 4-6 weeks. Would it go bad? The reason I am asking is my father-in-law made his kraut in a ceramic crock and it made a bunch. It was open to the air, he had the liquid over the cabbage, and he held it down with a plate and brick. He did have to remove bloom, but it always turned out right. That is why it was so disappointing that my “kraut in a bucket” did not turn out right. I basically did the same thing, but only on a smaller scale and in a bucket. I helped him can 40 quart one time. But he left it for 4 to 6 weeks. It seemed to have the right flavor after a month. So I don’t know about just fermenting for one week. Does having it in a closed container make the difference. Thanks again.

          • Fermentation time ideally is past the 21 day mark. But, there is ideal and there is first-time anxious-fermenter. When first fermenting (in a jar), it nice to know all is proceeding properly so that’s why I say taste at 7 days and then decide how much longer to ferment. Also, someone eating sauerkraut for the first time may not like the more pronounced flavors from a longer ferment.

            Fermenting for 4-6 weeks or longer is fine. Think of time and temperature. Cooler, the longer it can go. Warmer, the shorter. Ideal for me – with a water-sealed crock (well worth the investment to avoid skimming bloom which can interfere with the flavor) – is one week around 68-70, then 8 weeks plus around 60-65. I ferment it in my dining room for the first week and then move it to my garage for the remainder. The closed container really does help.

            Size of container does make a difference. You have a different of microbial activity in the larger fermentation vessel.

  • Sue Mills

    I made this yesterday using your instructions and it was so easy. This morning it has brine and bubbles so looking good so far. I can,t wait to taste it next weekend which will be the 7 days done! I will take the little jar out and put the lid on once the brine covers everything well. Thanks for the clear and full descriptions.

  • Lisa Chantel Hill Wade

    I started mine last week and will be eating a bit on my hotdog, today. I no longer buy sauerkraut from the store.

    • So good to hear Lisa, Hope you many ways to enjoy it. Congrats on your – first? – fermentation.

      • Lisa Chantel Hill Wade

        No, second. This one is so much better. I put it on sandwiches and today I made a salad with it. My daughter and my adopted daughter hate sauerkraut but loved mine.

        I wonder if I could ferment it using Himalayan salt?

  • fineartmarcella

    Hello, thank you for the great sauerkraut making advice, I made my first batch, excited but then about the 2nd day the brine started oozing out of the lid, I lost about 2 cups worth my yummy flavored juices, was there something I did to have lost so much?

    • You’re welcome! Brine bubbling over. This happens, especially with nice fresh cabbage. You did everything just fine. The bacteria that create CO2 – and make your jar anaerobic – were extra active and caused the overflow.

      For quart jars, I’m starting to use Pickle Pebbles or the Ultimate Jar Packer. They both take up less space in the jar, leaving more room for brine. After day 3, it should all settle down.

      • fineartmarcella

        Thank You

  • Bette Hildebrand

    My grandmother made sauerkraut many years ago, and I don’t remember her putting it in the fridge ever. Seems like she used to mix vinegar & water to pour warmed over the cabbage, cap it lightly. Allow to set and ferment, when fermentation process was complete, she called it tighter, after washing off hard. Do you know any of this method? It wss the best tasting kraut I’ve ever eaten, and anyone else said the same that ever ate and tasted of it.

    • Yes Bette, I’m hearing of more and more people who don’t put it in the fridge. Years ago, many kept it in a cool root cellar.

      Using the vinegar gives it the “tang,” pickles the cabbage and makes it shelf stable, but does not allow the growth of beneficial bacteria, which is what I want when I eat sauerkraut. You can get a similar flavor with naturally fermented sauerkraut, but will be a different taste than what you are used to.

  • Joe

    My entry toward your 100,000 jars and for your clickable world map (Louisville, Kentucky). This is actually my fifth jar and second for this sweet garlic recipe, YUM!

    • Joe

      Photo was correctly oriented, don’t know why it changed when uploaded????????

      • Looks lovely, even on its side. A couple of posts to get finished up and THEN on to implementing our 10,000 SureFire Sauerkraut homes clickable map. I need more time! But, don’t we all.

  • Shannon Davis

    Hi! Thank you for your awesome instructions!! I have some questions. Last night (at the 12-day mark) we pulled out about 1/4+ Cup of sauerkraut from our quart jar to taste-test it and decided to let it ferment longer. I pushed as much as I could to get everything submerged under the brine but it seems like there is less brine than at start, and I have some cabbage pieces that are slightly sticking above the brine around the periphery (around the outside of the glass weight). My question is: is this okay or should I add some of your prescribed salt water to create more liquid? I’d hate for my batch to be ruined when it’s done so well this far! My other question is: is it normal to have a creamy sort of film develop on the top of my glass weight? I’m using a mason glass weight instead of a jelly jar and I noticed last night when I opened the quart jar for the first time that the top of the glass weight has a creamy film on the top side. Should I wash the weight off before putting it back in to ferment he cabbage longer? Thank you for your help!

    • Shannon Davis

      Hi! I’m not sure if you received my posted questions above.

      • Yes, just now getting caught up :-). You’re fine. Often, when one gets past the first week or so, the brine gets pulled back into the sauerkraut. I used to add more brine, but stopped because I felt it diluted the flavors and I found if I had a good ferment that first week with all below the brine and the right amount of salt, no mold grew at the stage you’re at. Yes, wash off that weight before putting it back it. Or, go ahead and open it now to do so.

        • Shannon Davis

          Thank you for your help!! I really appreciate it! And thank you, again, for your detailed how-to on sauerkraut making. It definitely has given me the confidence to try this out!

  • audreyheald

    Hi Holly, I just made my first batch of your sweet garlic sauerkraut (after my failed kale kimchi attempt a couple weeks ago 😉 and am so excited to see how it goes. Question: I had exactly 800g of the good stuff, and a nice brine, but it seems to be too much for my liter-jar. As in, I really had to squeeze it down hard and it just BARELY all fit with the brine on top, and I had to press it down with just a flat rock under the lid instead of the shot glass I’d planned on. Is this too much for one jar? Do you think I’ll run into mold problems, since the sauerkraut almost fills the jar? (it’s not under an inch of brine, it’s just barely being held under by the floaties trap and the rock/lid combo). Thank you so much for the time you devote to sharing your passion and helping so many other people develop this skill!

    • audreyheald

      Hi again,
      So I checked my kraut this morning, and saw that plenty of brine had bubbled out into the dish I’d put below the jar, so it seems to be working! I pressed it down a bit more and added one more flat stone on top beneath the lid to keep everything nice and submerged. My house is starting to smell yummy, and 6 more days feels like so long to wait before I get to taste. 😉

      • Sounds like you have it all under control. 🙂

    • Hello Audrey, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Next time you encounter a too-full jar, I would probably take a bit out to give room for expansion. But, if you didn’t it won’t be the end of the world. It still looks like it will ferment fine. You are now past the most active stage with all the bubbling. If you still have an overflow problem, go ahead and take a bit out and pack it all down again and put back in the weight that fits to finish off the ferment.

  • Houtex77

    I went to Whole Foods on Tuesday and bought a smaller bag of non-processed sauerkraut to see if it would ease my digestive issues that I have been having for about 2 months. It’s only Friday and I can’t believe the difference that it has already made. The bloating is gone and my BM’s are amazing. I can’t wait to make my own. It’s strange that as a child (decades ago) I would get in trouble at school for refusing to eat it, but now, I love it! Thanks for the great article.

    • SO GOOD to hear! It’s amazing the impact of just a bit of fermented foods. Now that you know it works, you’ll be motivated to ferment your own. Enjoy the journey.

      • Houtex77

        Thanks Holly. I will and let you know.

  • Susie Stenmark

    Hello Holly, love your post! Definitely the most comprehensive sauerkraut how-to I’ve read. My batch developed foamy looking bubbles at day two and I’m opening it tomorrow at day seven, hoping it will be okay. I made it in one of those French wire lever closure jars with the rubber seal, so it’s not possible to put the lid on lightly so air can escape. Do you think it will be okay? Thank you!

    • Thank YOU! It’s comprehensive to ensure success!!! The ball-clamp jar you’re using is just fine. It’s on tight enough and any gases can escape by the pressure gently pushing up on the lid.

  • Susie Stenmark

    Thanks Holly! 🙂

  • Julie

    Tried my first fermentation and checked today on day 7 and whoa! waay too salty for my taste. Here are my corrections, tell me what you think. I had two qt jars going. One jar I poured out all the contents and added more cabbage and returned to two jars since I now had double the content and added enough water to cover the top of the cabbage. The second jar I poured out all the brine and added enough water to cover the kraut. I’m thinking there was still enough salt on the fermenting kraut to continue fermenting process? I plan on leaving all three jars on the counter for at least another week to continue fermenting. Let me know what you think…. I’ll try to remember to post about how it turns out.

    • Hello Julie, Sounds like a perfect solution but time will tell. You’re restarting the fermentation process 7 days in and reintroducing a different set of bacteria but that doesn’t mean the microbes won’t work wonders for you. I’ll be anxious to hear how it turns out.

      On the saltiness. Use Himalyan Pink or another mineral-rich salt – if you aren’t already – for it’s not as salty. Then, use a digital scale and play around with gradually decreasing your salt percent until you still have a nice crunch and texture but not too much saltiness. Try 1.5% for example and see how that tastes for you. See here for more info:

  • suzie_r

    Hi, I love your easy to follow guide and enthusiasm! I’m ready to start making my first batch of sauerkraut, but my kitchen gets to 30 Centrigrade when I’m not home and the air-conditioning is off! That can’t be good for it, can it? I don’t want it to explode. Any ideas how to keep it cool without putting it in the fridge?

  • Cathryn Lang

    I made my first batch of Sauerkraut about 5 days ago, into 2 pint jars. When I salted the cabbage, it tasted too salty, before putting into jars. I used a 2 1/2 pound head of cabbage before removing the core and outer leaves. I read to use 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt per pound. I used canning salt, but feel maybe it was too much salt? I never saw any bubbles. I kept the jars out of the sun, in about 78 to 80 degree house temperatures. I opened one jar yesterday and smelled the sauerkraut. It tasted awful, and had no smell. I am so disappointed. What happened?

    • Hello Cathryn, Glad to hear you’ve jumped in and made your first sauerkraut but sorry to hear it tastes awful. Do try again. Once you get it right, it really is delish!

      I would follow my recipe here, but a few things… I would ferment in larger quart jars. They allow for a bit more microbial activity with the larger container. You fermented on the warm end of the spectrum and with about half as much salt as I would recommend. I know you said it tasted too salty, but without enough salt, the proper environment for the bacteria to do their work never gets established. For 2 1/2 pound head – before waste – I would guess at least a tablespoon of salt.

      • Cathryn Lang

        I probably used almost 3 Tablespoons of canning salt, total. Would too much salt stop the bacterial growth? I’ll try a quart jar next time. Thank you for responding to my request and being so helpful. Do you think because my house temperature was too high, it stopped bacterial growth also? Thank you.

        • Yes, too much salt will stop bacterial growth. Salt numbers are like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, not too much, not too little, but just right.

          Too high of home temps can speed up the process and sometimes miss some of the flavor development, but if your salt is right, you just ferment for a shorter time period. Do consider a digital – even a inexpensive one. It really takes the worry away when you have the salt numbers correct. Without a scale, you can go by taste: Salty but no offensively, gag-me so.

  • Katherine P

    I live in nz where climate control isnt really a thing in houses. Our ‘room temp’ fluctuates every day from anywhere between 25 – 10 degrees Celsius, depending on the time of year and whether or not the fire is stoked. I’d love to make sauerkraut, but am reluctant due to this problem. Any tips?

    • Warm climate challenges! Play with fermentation length, shortening it. Many successfully ferment in your climate but for a much shorter time period. Follow this recipe, use a bit more salt (rounded tablespoon, 2.5% or 20 grams – reply if that doesn’t make sense) and just test your jar of goodness at 5 days, 10 days and so on. Also, check out this post for some temperature control ideas:

      • Katherine P

        Thank you for that. I am actually more cooncerned about the temperay drops that happen at night, rather than a warm climate. Inside temps are between 10-18 when I wake in the morning. Im wondering how i can keep the sauerkraut temp from dropping over night. Thanks!

        • Hello Again Katherine, Good question and worth trying to stabilize temps. I’ve heard of some using a “seedling mat.” Here’s a blog on that. She also talks about hot water bottles in a cooler. If you have some old non-led Christmas lights, you could wrap those around the jar.

          You could also play around with making a warming cabinet. Low wattage incandescent light bulb/lamp in a cupboard. Be safe!

          Kombucha brewers run into the same issue and you might be able to use some of their tips.

          I have a post in the works, just not ready to publish…

          • Iryna Boehland

            Hi Katherine. Holly, I hope you don’t mind my intrusion.
            I am from Ukraine. We make kraut in fall and winter. No climate control there Either! We don’t ferment it for long 5 – 7 days max. Then keep it in the fridge. I never remember my mom or grandma fussing about the right temp for the kraut, I don’t pay much attention either. If you really worry, you could keep it overnight in the oven with the pilot light on.
            Holly, when the kraut gets aged, mama would add freshly shredded cabbage, slices of red or spring onion, parsley (we use lots of parsley in salads) and sunflower seeds oil. I found that toasted walnut oil has a perfect flavor match. Thank you for your step by step picture recipe!

          • Hello Iryna, Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I think – myself included – we can work too hard to make it all turn out just so… Were your mother/grandma fermenting in large crocks? Love your “salad” idea. Sounds delicious. I’ll have to try the walnut oil.

  • letsdance

    Thanks for the in-depth instructions for making cabbage kraut. I am going to be making collard kraut with your recipe so wish me luck. 🙂 I have loads of beautiful collards and they are so good made into kraut. My Mom and Dad did it every year but you know how kids are, I never paid attention to them when they were making it. Luckily my Mom is still with me and although she is 88, she remembers how to make it but I have been reading a lot of sites to get an idea of what to do and not to do. In the old South, I think they just did it and worked with the results they got without complaining.
    Thanks again.

    • Let us know how you like collard-kraut. I’ve hear it could be quite strong. You might want to consider try fermenting some 50/50 with cabbage.

      • letsdance

        Hi Holly.
        I have eaten collard-kraut for most of my life here in North Carolina so the taste is wonderful to me. 🙂 I was just looking for a real recipe to make it and taking the guess work out, which your recipe will provide. I have read more than 50 recipes so far and I am thinking this will be a labor of love and maybe something for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren if they like it.
        I will do straight collard kraut to ferment the first batch and maybe mix with cabbage on the second round.
        I will definitely let you know how it turns out however.

  • Mia

    Hello, Holly! I am preparing to begin my first batch of sauerkraut using your failsafe recipe. For my very first try at fermenting, I used your technique and tips for a simple kimchi recipe that I found on MasonTops. (I wanted to try something with a very short fermenting time first, to see if that would be successful whilst waiting on the sauerkraut to ferment.) However, the kimchi recipe had enough leftover to fill a third of another quart mason jar. I went ahead and packed the leftovers into a second jar, submerging it under the brine with a pickle pebble, but was worried that so much “airspace” in the jar might affect the ferment. I didn’t have any smaller size jars that would work with the wide mouth pickle pipes. Do you think the kimchi will be allright in this “roomier” jar?

    • Hello Mia, Usually, i will be alright, especially if it is under the brine and also a short ferment time. Congrats on your first jar of sauerkraut. I hope you find it delicious.

      • Mia

        Thank you, Holly. 🙂 The ferment time is only 3-5 days for napa cabbage, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. In the meantime, I’m making your SureFire sauerkraut recipe next!

  • Dave

    I have a question on the finished product. I just finished fermenting my cabbage for two weeks. I burped it the first couple days but after that the ball jar lid was tightly sealed so I could not burp it any more. When I went to open the jar today the top was a bit misshapen, probably due to the pressure. It took a lot of effort to open the lid. When it did finally open a lot of liquid poured out over the top of the jar, again likely due to the pressure. The sauerkraut smells fine and I tasted two very small slivers and they tasted crunchy and had a pretty familiar sauerkraut flavor. No obvious signs of mold or anything along those lines and like I said it smells fine. I just want to make sure it is fine to eat. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    • ENJOY! All is good. Like you said, pressure build up. For future batches, wait until day 5 to totally tighten the lid, unless you’re using an airlock and then it can be tightened on day 1 since you have a way for the gases to escape.

  • Anne Leblanc

    Hello Holly! You must wish these Help Me! emails would stop soon in this very busy Holiday season! Here’s a short request for advice: I want to give a jar of my sauerkraut to my daughter. But even though it had liquid over the top when it finished fermenting, now that it has been in the fridge for a couple weeks, the lovely red juice seems to have gone down and the top 1″ is discoloured. I don’t mind it, but she has never had sauerkraut and may not find it attractive enough to try it! 🙂
    I have leftover deep red sauerkraut juice from another jar I just finished eating. Can I add it to this jar I want to give, as I said, it finished fermenting a few weeks ago and been in the fridge.
    Thanks a bunch for your generous help to all of us newbies, and have a wonderful Christmas!
    Anne in Prince Edward Island, Canada

    • Hello Fellow Canadian, Prince Edward Island! On my list to visit one day. I’ve just lived in BC for 9 years; California prior to that. So much to explore. Thanks for your understanding on the emails. Thankfully, they tend to slow down around the holidays.

      I would remove the discoloured section – you can eat it. Repack in the right-sized jar – 500 ml are nice for gift giving – and pour your leftover juice in. Yes, that’s fine to do. In the cold environment of the fridge, the brine gets pulled back into the sauerkraut, hence the top dry section. Look for an upcoming post on dry sauerkraut. Happy to help you newbies and thank you. A wonderful Christmas to all!

      • Anne Leblanc

        Awesome as always, Holly! Thank you for your super quick response. Going to visit my daughter in B.C. actually for Christmas! Didn’t know you were Canadian! Which part of the continent are you living in now?

        • You’re welcome. Vancouver Island. Cold right now, but I do like to feel the winter. Just need some snow.

  • Jane

    Hello, I am just starting out at this, and am finding that my brine appears to get soaked up by the cabbage as it is fermenting. The cabbage seems to swell up taking up more space in the jar, and my brine seems to disappear. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Hello Jane, Perfectly normal. I’m trying to come up with a work around. But, as long as everything was under the brine for the first 5-7 days, the good bacterial environment has been established and no mold should develop. You can add brine (1 tablespoon salt – 2 cups water) but I find it dilutes the flavors. I’m playing around with fermenting a watery sauerkraut to pour into the jar.

  • Kim

    Hi. I’ve made kraut before and I love adding caraway seed, onion, and dill. But, I’m out of dill and not sure if I can use frozen dill. I read one time that you can open a probiotic and mix in. Have you ever done this? Kim
    PS I’m from Nelson, BC

    • Hello Kim, I don’t see a problem with the frozen dill. I’m against mixing in probiotics. Different bacteria than occur on the vegetables you’re fermenting. See more here:

      Nelson! Love your town. We ALMOST moved there 10 years ago. Ended up on Vancouver Island instead. Enjoy all the great skiing. 🙂

  • Leslie

    Hi Holly, I purchased a 5 ltr fermenting crock last year and LOVE making sauerkraut. But sometimes I’m not sure about the quality of the finished product. The colour of my most recent batch was nice and white at the top, but toward the bottom it became a little pinkish/brownish. As well, the kraut had floated up from the bottom of the crock. I made six pounds of cabbage with the right weight of salt per pound of cabbage. I used Windsor coarse canning and pickling salt. I added extra brine at 1 Tbsp per 2 cups water. I used the weights that came with the crock and the kraut was still submerged, but had floated a lot. Is it safe to eat? And any ideas about why it sometimes turns out pinkish or brownish? I’m thinking the counter I ferment on, beside my fridge, may be a little too warm. Thanks for your great site.

    • Hello Leslie, Good to hear you are LOVING making sauerkraut! I think you answered your own question in the last line… too warm. Another thought is the coarse salt. I find fine (regular grind) salt is easier to more thoroughly disperse and then have it dissolve faster due to smaller size of grain.

      Floating? If it’s above 72-75F, you might have ended up with a real active ferment and lots of air bubbles being produced and the weight not heavy enough.

      When fermenting in a crock, I like to have it around 68-70 for a week and then more to a cooler spot 60-65 to slowly ferment. You’ll find that you end up with a greater depth of flavor this way. If you haven’t see this post, check it out for more:

      • Leslie

        Thanks, Holly. For the next batch I’ll try a cooler location, a different salt and heavier weights. Just found your recipe for a Kimche style kraut in the link, which I have been wanting to try. Any idea whether you could add some store-bought fish sauce to the recipe? 

        • Good luck with the next batch. I haven’t used fish sauce in a recipe but I’ve seen many recipes call for it. You should be fine. 🙂

  • Amit Bravo

    Hi Holly, I am from India and rock salt ( I guess it is called Himalayan Pink Salt ) available easily not kosher or others. can it work ? second, I have just an idea can adding a spoon of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar speed up the process ?

  • Lorrie Atkinson Burkes

    Hey Holly, my quart jars all have the metal lids and rims. I can’t use those?

    • They are FINE to use. Just don’t put them on too tight. (Gases created during the first few days need a way to escape.) The metal lids can corrode due to the acid levels in the brine. I used them for years before switching to the white ones. Take it a step at a time. Happy Fermenting.

      • Lorrie Atkinson Burkes

        Thanks Holly. That makes sense! Maybe I should just buy some plastic ones. You have a source?

  • I just put up 12 pints of kraut that is 12 weeks fermented. Really tastes good and wil be good with pork and mashed potatoes. All fresh green cabbage from our local farmers market. Bob Young –

    • Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the goodness through our winter months.

  • Fred Smid

    Thanks again for your efforts. We really appreciate the hard work you put in for OUR benefit.
    Just wanted to let you know I have set up my second batch and on both used the cabbage leaf with cut wooden skewers crossed to hold the leaf in place. Works like a charm. Thanks for the idea.

    • You’re MORE THAN WELCOME. Good to hear the wooden skewer trick is working for you. It’s nice to keep things simple.

  • L Karikka

    Hi Holly. I just finished a 21 day fermentation process of kraut, in a 64 oz. Fido jar. I moved the finished kraut into smaller jars, but there is no longer enough brine to cover the kraut in the smaller containers. What to do? Thanks for your help.

    • Hello, They are fine without the brine. Just cap tightly and enjoy. Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on “Dry Sauerkraut.”

      • L Karikka

        Thank you, Holly!

  • Sarah

    This is so helpful thank you Holly! I have organic cabbage, is it ok to use conventional carrots and garlic? What about conventional cabbage?

    • Hello Sarah, Ideally you would use the best quality ingredients you can find/afford. The greater the nutrient levels, the more food for your microscopic friends. If you are using conventional and doing everything right and ending up with bad batches, then I would pursue that variable. And rest assured, there are studies out there that show how powerful bacteria are. They have been found to erase/degrade levels of insecticides in Kimchi.