How to Make Sauerkraut In a Crock in 7 Simple Steps [Healthy, Flavorful, Easy]

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Ready to learn how to make sauerkraut in a crock with ease?

Would you like sauerkraut with copious brine?

Do you want to erase all fears of fruit flies or other critters getting into your sauerkraut?

Are you ready to say Goodbye to mold and yeasts?

And, Hello to sauerkraut with a greater depth of flavor?

How about, would your family appreciate little or no odor during fermentation?

Then…

It’s time to take the plunge and learn – or relearn – how to make sauerkraut in a crock!

First, a question.

Is this your first time ever to make sauerkraut? Yes?

Then, first become experienced with making sauerkraut in a jar with The SureFire Sauerkraut Method… In a Jar: 7 Easy Steps. This proven small-batch method will help you:

  • Gain confidence and experience with fermentation.
  • Understand the process and steps of making sauerkraut.
  • Determine which flavor of sauerkraut you or your family enjoys. No sense making 10 quarts of Kimchi if no one is going to eat it.
  • And, if something goes wrong, you’re only throwing out one jar of sauerkraut, not a whole crock’s worth.

Don’t own a crock yet? See Fermentation Crocks: The Who, What, Where, When, Why and How if you need help selecting a fermentation crock and understanding why a water-sealed fermentation crock makes for perfect sauerkraut… every time!

Don’t worry, I also cover fermenting in an open crock with tips to ensure success. Not having a water-sealed crock means for a bit more work during the fermentation process, but it’s definitely doable. After all, that’s what our ancestors kept in their basement, scooping sauerkraut out of it periodically.

Not ready to purchase a crock yet? You can start with a one-gallon pickle jar or any food-grade container. To minimize air-exposure however, make sure it is taller than it is wider.

My methodology? I don’t make one huge batch to then pack into my crock. To evenly mix and pack 10 plus of sauerkraut in one step is a challenge.

I don’t mix and salt directly in the crock. Instead, I mix and weigh in 5-pound batches which:

  • Makes for a consistent product that ferments evenly.
  • Allows for even salt distribution, a key factor in successful fermentation.
  • You can complete in manageable chunks.

SureFire Sauerkraut in a Crock Recipe

Grab a beautiful PDF download of this recipe to read on your tablet, phone or print a copy for easy access.

Also included is a subscription to a simple eight-week email course on fermenting in a crock.

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Let’s start! Time to Learn How to Make Sauerkraut in a Crock

Follow these seven steps – click a button to go directly to that section – to learn how to make sauerkraut in a crock.

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.


Step 1 SureFire Sauerkraut in a crock. Set Up. | makesauerkraut.comFor Step 1, you want to make sure you have enough of the ingredients you need on hand and your scale ready for weighing.

To know how much of each ingredient and how many heads of cabbage to buy, you have to know the size of your crock. You’ll want to know how many liters (quarts) of sauerkraut you can you pack into it? Most crocks have this marked or printed somewhere on the crock. I treat quarts and liters the same and switch gallons into liters by multiplying by 4.

Fermentation crocks, both open and water-sealed crocks (pictured below) are designed to be filled about 3/4’s full. This allows room for stone weights, brine to cover the stone weights and some air space for the expansion that happens during the early and active part of the fermentation process.

Leaving too much head space – not packing the crock full enough – leaves too much air in the crock which can lead to mold and less than ideal fermentation conditions. The fermentation of sauerkraut is an anaerobic – without air – process. We need to do our best to keep it that way.

For each liter of capacity, I roughly figure on 2 pounds of my recipe mixture. I pack a 5-liter crock with 10 pounds of the recipe mixture, a 10-liter crock with 20 pounds of the recipe mixture and a 3-gallon (12 liters) with 25 pounds.

  • If you have a Harsch crock, take off about 20% on the size. Their sizing is for the actual size of the crock and not how many liters it makes. This is also the case with most hand-crafted 1-gallon crocks.
  • If you have an open crock, take off about 20-25% on the size. The sizing indicated on most open crocks is actual size.
  • If you are using some make-shift container other than a crock, determine its capacity either by finding a measurement on the container and taking off about 20-25% or by seeing how many liters of water you can pour into it, stopping 4-5 inches from the top. A one-gallon pickle jar’s capacity is 3 liters.

Here are a few examples of commonly used crocks and approximately how much you can pack into them.

Determine how many pounds of cabbage will fit into your crock. | makesauerkraut.com

Inspect your crock, determine its size and figure out how many 5-pound batches you will need to make to fill your crock. To learn how crock sizing works, I actually filled my crocks with water, counting the number of liters that fit into each one.

Determine The Capacity of Your Fermentation Crock

Write the capacity of your crock down. Switch it into liters, if not already, and multiply by 2. That’s how many pounds of cabbage mixture will fit into your crock. If you’re lucky, your size of crock appears in the picture and I’ve already made the calculations for you.

For this post, I give quantities for the recipes on my website and for Firecracker Sauerkraut, a recipe in my eBook: The SureFire Sauerkraut Recipe Collection. Click HERE to download a complimentary copy of Firecracker Sauerkraut. Pictures will be of Firecracker Sauerkraut.

Shown below is what I would buy for a 5-pound batch. Multiply these numbers by the number of 5-pound batches you need for your crock. For my 5-liter crock, I make 2, 5-pound batches, so I buy double the ingredients listed.

Buy Ingredients

Pick your favorite flavor of sauerkraut and buy enough ingredients. Below are rough estimates for a 5-pound batch for each of the recipes on my website. Adjust for your tastes and up the quantities as necessary for your crock. See SETUP NOTES AND TIPS for information on what salt to use.

How much to buy for making sauerkraut in a crock. | makesauerkraut.com

Gather Equipment

  • Kitchen scale
  • Cutting board and knife for slicing cabbage or mandolin
  • Extra-large mixing bowl
  • Vegetable peeler, measuring spoons and grater
  • Crock, weights and lid
  • For STEP 7: STORE, you’ll need jars and lids

SET UP Notes and Tips

  • Your crock and weights do not need to be “sterilized” before use. Just use a tad of dish soap to clean them, rinse well and let dry thoroughly.
  • I highly recommend that you weigh your vegetables and cabbage so that you add the proper amount of salt.
    After teaching dozens of people in my MakeSauerkraut! Workshops, I’ve found that success rates hit 99.9% when participants used a scale to ensure that the correct amount of salt was used, and they were far less likely to have mold or yeast in their ferment. See my Resource Page for scale considerations and recommendations. The $20-$30 you’ll spend on a scale will save you throwing out that much expense in cabbage.
  • My favorite salt – and now the only salt I use – is Himalayan Pink Salt. The following post covers types of salt to use, or not to use:
    What is the Best Salt to Use When Making Fermented Sauerkraut?
  • The amount of cabbage you need to buy varies according to other ingredients. Using lots of carrots? Well, they weight a lot, so you’ll need less cabbage.
  • You’ll be mixing up 5-pounds of vegetables and cabbage at a time. This amount should fit in an extra-large mixing bowl.
  • 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.
  • 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 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams) to this number.

SureFire Sauerkraut in a Crock Recipe

Grab a beautiful PDF download of this recipe to read on your tablet, phone or print a copy for easy access.

Also included is a subscription to a simple eight-week email course on fermenting in a crock.

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Step 2 SureFire Sauerkraut in a crock. Prep. | makesauerkraut.com

Now that you have your ingredients and equipment together, you’re ready to chop, slice and dice your way through the vegetables for your sauerkraut.

You will need 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams) of vegetables and cabbage in your bowl. When making sauerkraut, it works best if you first prepare the flavoring ingredients – red onions and jalapenos in this case – then add as much sliced cabbage as necessary to hit 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams) on the scale.

Ingredients all prepped for Firecracker Sauerkraut. | makesauerkraut.com

Prepping Jalapeno Peppers. How Much Heat?

How much heat do you want from the jalapeno peppers? | makesauerkraut.comWith hot peppers, the heat is in the seeds and the inner membrane. Vary the heat by how many jalapenos you use and how many seeds you leave in. As for me? One jalapeno with seeds and membrane removed. My husband? Three jalapenos, no seeds or membrane removed.

If you don’t like super-hot & spicy foods, use just one jalapeno, cut off the stem and slice lengthwise. You might want to wear a glove for this, or be careful and wash your hands well after. With the tip of a knife, or a small spoon, scrape the seeds out. To remove even more heat, also scrape out the inner pithy membrane.

If you like the heat, use three jalapenos, cut off the stem, leave in the seeds and inner membrane, then slice the jalapeno into 1/8 inch slices.

Prep Your Ingredients

I give measurements to get you in the ballpark, but don’t feel you have to follow my recipe exactly. Add your own creative flair to it.

However, a good rule of thumb for sauerkraut to ferment

1 ¼ pounds (600 grams) flavoring
3 ¾ pounds (1800 grams) cabbage

NOTE: You might want to add and mix in your salt as you add the cabbage to your bowl. See the SALT NOTES AND TIPS section at the end of Step 3.

Firecracker Sauerkraut (5-Pound Batch)

  • Peel, cut into quarters and finely slice 1/2 to 1 whole red onion.
  • Prep 9 jalapenos according to how much heat you want and add these to the bowl too.
  • Add 3 teaspoons oregano,
  • 3 teaspoons cumin seeds and
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes to the bowl.
  • Set aside a few cabbage leaves for use in STEP 5.
  • Quarter the cabbage, leaving the core in, and finely slice. Add sliced cabbage to your bowl until the weight of the vegetables and cabbage is 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams).

Sweet Garlic Sauerkraut (5-Pound Batch)

  • Peel and grate 6-9 carrots. Add these to your bowl. You should end up with approximately 1 pound to 1 ¼ pounds (450-600 grams) of grated carrots.
  • Finely mince 6-9 garlic cloves and add these to your bowl too.
  • Set aside a few cabbage leaves for use in STEP 5.
  • Quarter the cabbage, leaving the core in, and finely slice. Add sliced cabbage to your bowl until the weight of the vegetables and cabbage is 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams).

Dilly Delight Sauerkraut (5-Pound Batch)

  • Add either 3 tablespoons dried dill or 1/2 cup fresh dill to your bowl.
  • Set aside a few cabbage leaves for use in STEP 5.
  • Quarter the cabbage, leaving the core in, and finely slice. Add sliced cabbage to the bowl until the weight of the dill and cabbage is 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams).

Ginger Carrot Sauerkraut

  • Peel and grate 6-9 carrots. Add these to your bowl. You should end up with approximately 1 pound to 1 ¼ pounds (450-600 grams) of grated carrots.
  • Peel and finely grate a 3-6 inch piece of ginger and add to your bowl.
  • Finely mince 6-9 garlic cloves and add these to your bowl too.
  • Set aside a few cabbage leaves for use in STEP 5.
  • Quarter the cabbage, leaving the core in, and finely slice. Add sliced cabbage to your bowl until the weight of the vegetables and cabbage is 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams).

Passion Pink Sauerkraut (5-Pound Batch)

  • Peel and grate 6-9 medium beets. Add these to your bowl. You should end up with approximately 1 pound to 1 ¼ pounds (450-600 grams) of grated beets.
  • Finely mince 6-9 garlic cloves and add these to your bowl too.
  • Add 3 teaspoons caraway seeds.
  • Set aside a few cabbage leaves for use in STEP 5.
  • Quarter the cabbage, leaving the core in, and finely slice. Add sliced cabbage to your bowl until the weight of the vegetables and cabbage is 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams).

Kimchi Style Sauerkraut (5-Pound Batch)

Until I get a chance to update this section, please see my recipe for Kimchi-Style Sauerkraut in a jar. There, I recommend using Gochugara (a Korean red pepper that adds an unparallel depth of flavor) in place of the red pepper and also consider the addition of fish sauce – though you might want to first see if you like it with a quart (liter)-sized batch.

  • Peel and grate 3-6 carrots. Add these to your bowl. You should end up with approximately 1 pound (450 grams) of grated carrots.
  • Peel (if it looks rough and dirty) and grate your radish – approximately 1 ½ pounds (750 grams) –  and add to your bowl.
  • Slice 2 bunches of green onions and add to your bowl.
  • Peel and finely grate a 3-6 inch piece of ginger and add to your bowl.
  • Finely mince 6-9 garlic cloves and add these to your bowl too.
  • Add 2-3 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or Gochugara).
  • Fish sauce (optional). “For the Kimchi style, I would recommend using the authentic gochugaru red pepper powder (it’s on Amazon) and also adding a tbsp of fermented fish sauce to each 5lb batch. The fish sauce smell can be unpleasant at first but it completely disappears during the fermentation and adds a richer taste to the kimchi.
  • Set aside a few cabbage leaves for use in STEP 5.
  • Quarter the cabbage, leaving the core in, and finely slice. Add sliced cabbage to your bowl until the weight of the vegetables and cabbage is 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams).

PREP Notes and Tips

  • Some 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. I process what I need for my entire crock and then grab approximate amounts for each batch. Here are all my ingredients prepped for a 10-liter crock of Kimchi-Style Sauerkraut.

Kimchi ingredients ready for my crock. | makesauerkraut.com

Step 3 SureFire Sauerkraut in a crock. Salt. | makesauerkraut.comNow that you have chopped and sliced all your ingredients, it is time to 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 undesirable bacteria die off. If you use the correct amount of salt, ideally a mineral-rich salt, you create the best environment for the good bacteria to flourish.

Surefire sauerkraut in a crock. | makesauerkraut.com

Salt Your Vegetable Mixture

For a 5-pound mixture, you need 3 tablespoons of salt. Sprinkle the mixture in your bowl with 3 tablespoons of salt. Use your hand or a large spoon and mix really, really well until the salt is evenly dispersed. Make sure to reach all the goodies buried at the bottom of your bowl.

3 tablespoons of salt for 5 pounds (2.4 kilograms, 2400 grams) of cabbage & vegetables

Next, massage the cabbage mixture with strong hands until moist, thus creating your brine. The mixture will reduce in size and want to “clump” together. Tilt you bowl to one side. Once you see a 2-3 inch puddle of brine, you’re good.

Taste a pinch. Yummy?

SALT Notes and Tips

  • When making 5-pound batches, I like to add the salt and mix as I’m slicing my cabbage. This makes it easier to evenly mix a large batch and makes for more room in your bowl if it’s on the too-small side.
    I first place all the vegetables for the current batch in the bowl, slice about a 1/2 head of cabbage, sprinkle that with 1 tablespoon of salt and then mix. I then slice the rest of the cabbage head, add another tablespoon of salt, mix again. Lastly, I slice and add cabbage – until it weighs 5 pounds on my scale – add the last tablespoon of salt and do the final mix.
  • Since it’s easy to forget how much salt you’ve added, I keep track with slices of cabbage next to my scale. Each time I add a tablespoon of salt, I lay one slice of cabbage on the counter.
  • 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,” and find that very little massage work is necessary to get your puddle of brine.
  • 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.
  • Some recipes sprinkle the salt directly into the crock. I don’t recommend this. Mixing well and evenly is key to properly fermented sauerkraut.


Step 4 SureFire Sauerkraut in a crock. Pack. | makesauerkraut.com

Now that you have a puddle of brine in your bowl, it is time to pack your bowl of cabbage and vegetables into your crock. 

Packing the crock with your sauerkraut. | makesauerkraut.com

Pack Your Crock One 5-Pound Batch at a Time

Place your crock on the floor, and using one arm to hold the bowl above the crock, grab handfuls of the salty, juicy cabbage mixture and pack it into your crock, periodically pressing the mixture down tightly with your fist, or a kraut pounder, so that the brine rises above the top of the mixture and no air pockets remain.

Once you have packed the current batch into your crock. mix up and pack in additional 5-pound batches until the crock is approximately ¾’s full, or you have 3-4 inches of space before hitting the top inside rim. Pour any brine left in your mixing bowl into the crock and scrape out any loose bits stuck to the sides of the bowl.

PACK Notes and Tips

  • If you are using a large crock that will be difficult to lift once full, you’ll want to pack it where you are going to ferment it. Read STEP 6: FERMENT to select a location.
  • You may find it hard to pack the mixture solid. It likes to move around when you press down on it. Don’t worry, the weights added in the next step help to stabilize everything.
  • Be sure to leave at least 3-4 inches of space between the top of the cabbage mixture and the top of the crock. You’ll need this space for the weights and expansion of your ferment.

Step 5 SureFire Sauerkraut in a crock. Submerge. | makesauerkraut.comNow that your crock has been packed with your cabbage mixture, it’s time to make sure everything remains below the brine during the fermentation process. This is important! Any sauerkraut that gets exposed to air degrades in quality and is where molds and yeasts can grow. There are two components to this step: layering in a protective barrier, or “floaties trap,” and placing weights into the crock.

Use weights to hold the sauerkraut below the brine. | makesauerkraut.com

Place Cabbage Leaves and Weights in the Crock

Floaties Trap. Whole cabbage leaves make for a great Floaties Trap to hold everything below the brine. The cabbage leaves also act as a protective barrier and will make it easier to remove any small amounts of mold or yeasts that might develop on the top layer of your sauerkraut.

Take the cabbage leaves saved in Step 2 and place them on top of the cabbage mixture.

Weights. Most crocks come with stone fermentation weights, shaped as 2 half-circles to make it easy to place inside the opening of a water-sealed crock. You can also purchase weights for use in an open crock.

Place your weights in the crock, pushing down firmly to get the brine to rise above the weights. You’ll want about 1 inch of brine above the weights.

If there is not enough brine, wait a day and check. Often, additional brine is produced during the beginning stages of the fermentation process.

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. If you’re using an open crock, a plate that covers the majority of the cabbage makes for a great Floaties Trap. Some recipes recommend boiling an old dish towel or piece of sheeting for 5 minutes and using this to cover the cabbage mixture.
  • Weights. If you’re using an open crock, or don’t have weights, gallon food-grade freezer bags filled with salt water (1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water) can serve as weights. Or try a jar filled with water with the lid screwed on tight.
  • Some of the handles for the water-sealed crocks don’t work well as handles. I find it easier to carry my crock with one hand inside the opening and one hand holding the base. Therefore, I wait to put the lid on until my crock is in place.
  • If there is not enough brine to cover the weights by 1 inch, go ahead and put the lid on your crock and check it the next day. If there is still not enough brine, dissolve 1 tablespoon salt in 2 cups water and pour this over the weights.

Step 6 SureFire Sauerkraut in a crock. Ferment. | makesauerkraut.com

Your work is now mostly done. Time to let the friendly bacteria work for you while you rest.

Crock in place and moat filed and ready for fermentation. | makesauerkraut.com

Select a Location for Your Crock, Put the Lid On and Fill the Moat with Water

Find a spot where your crock can sit undisturbed for 4-8 weeks. Ideally, the temperature of the location should range between 65-72 degrees. To protect your floor, place your crock on a few blocks of wood.

Put the lid on and fill the moat with water.

For open crocks, you can secure some plastic wrap over the opening. Fermentation is an anaerobic process and your fermentation crock should be sealed from outside air.

During fermentation, check the water level in the crock daily to make sure it’s filled with water. You’ll slowly lose water due to evaporation.

At times, the water seems to suddenly disappear. This is due to barometric changes that can pull the water to the inside of your moat and make it look like it has all evaporated. Carefully, move the lid just a tad – don’t lift it out – and the water should flow back to the visible side of the moat.

How Long to Ferment?

For your first batch of sauerkraut, I recommend leaving it to ferment for 3 weeks at which time you can taste it and decide if you want to let it ferment longer or stop at this point and pack it into jars. Each batch is different and is impacted by the time of year (ambient temperature) that you’re are fermenting.

However, keep in mind three variables that impact how your sauerkraut turns out. OK, four if we count the quality of the ingredients. The three I look at are: Salinity, Time and Temperature.

Salinity or Amount of Salt Used

The impact of salt on sauerkraut fermentation. | makesauerkraut.comMORE salt, SLOWER the rate of fermentation and MORE days to ferment.

LESS salt, FASTER the rate of fermentation and FEWER days to ferment.

I set this variable for you, by having you add a specific amount of salt.

Don’t mess with this variable unless you live in a very warm climate and want to slow fermentation down because you’re getting moldy, mushy sauerkraut. Then, I would use slightly rounded tablespoons and ferment for a shorter time period.

Temperature

The impact of temperature on sauerkraut fermentation. | makesauerkraut.comHOT temperatures, FASTER the rate of fermentation and FEWER days to ferment.

COLD temperatures, SLOWER the rate of fermentation and MORE days to ferment.

I like to ferment in a cooler location and during winter so I can ferment for a longer time which results in sauerkraut with a greater depth of flavor.

Time

The impact of time on sauerkraut fermentation. | makesauerkraut.comFEWER days if temperatures are on the WARM side.

MORE days if temperatures are on the COOL side.

I like to ferment my sauerkraut in a crock for 4-8 weeks. I ferment for 4 weeks if I keep the crock in my house where things are a little warmer. I ferment closer to 8 weeks if I move my crock out to the garage where it’s a little cooler. See also:

How Long to Ferment Sauerkraut?

And, if you’re fermenting in a warm climate:

11 Cool Fermentation Tips for Hot Weather.

Can I Take a Peek?

Ideally, you want to maintain an anaerobic (without air) environment for your sauerkraut. Each time you peek, your are breaking the seal on your sauerkraut. However, for the first few times, it is difficult to trust that you have set up just the right environment for all the friendly bacteria to do their work for you. The greater your confidence from fermenting successfully in quart jars (small-batch method or SureFire Sauerkraut… In a Jar), the less the urge to check.

With a water-sealed crock, I would wait at least 10 days by which time a stable fermentation environment has been established. Then, if you must check things out do so, lifting out the weights and seeing how things look.

With an open crock, there is a greater chance for molds or yeasts to grow on the surface of your ferment, so it is OK to check every few days and clean off yeast that could grow on the surface.

FERMENT Notes and Tips

  • Lid. If you are using an open crock and don’t have a lid for it, secure some plastic wrap over the opening instead.
  • Get into the habit of giving the moat in your crock a quick check each day. It’s not often that you’ll have to add water, but it’s easy to forget it and then all of a sudden there’s no water in the moat and your crock is not longer sealed. If this happens, don’t panic. Just refill the moat with water and try to be more mindful.
  • If the water in the moat seems to suddenly disappear, don’t panic. This is due to barometric changes that can pull the water to the inside of your moat and make it look like it has all evaporated. Carefully, move the lid just a tad – don’t lift it out – and the water should flow back to the visible side of the moat.
  • For open crocks, white scum might form on the top of your ferment. Skim this off, wash the plate, and replace it all. Repeat daily until the scum stops forming, usually by day 10. You won’t be able to remove it all, but get what you can.
  • Two-Stage Ferment. Some swear by the flavor development with a longer and cooler ferment. If you want to try this, have your crock in a warmer spot (68-72°F; 20-22°C, approximately) for the first week to 10 days then move to a cooler spot (60-65°F; 16-18°C, approximately) for the remaining time, 8-12 weeks.
  • To protect your floor from condensation, raise the crock off the floor with a few blocks of wood. The bottom of most crocks is not glazed and moisture can transpire through to the floor. Not good, especially if you have wood floors.
  • Music. You will hear an occasional “blop, blop” or gurgling sound. The warmer it is, the more you’ll hear this. This is normal, and is caused by carbon dioxide leaving during the fermentation process. It is one sign that fermentation has started.

I emailed you this morning on your website. The water in my crock mote was disappearing. I was filling it 2 times per day. Well… I just solved the mystery. I have my crock sitting on the kitchen floor. And guess who thought it was a new drinking device?? My dog!! I caught her in the act. So case closed. 😉
Kim, Brookfield Wisconsin
Kim, Brookfield Wisconsin

Step 7 SureFire Sauerkraut in a crock. Ferment. | makesauerkraut.com

After your sauerkraut has fermented to your liking, it’s time to pack the contents of your crock into jars to go into the refrigerator where it sits waiting to be effortlessly added to any meal or dish. Refrigeration slows the fermentation process and enables you to keep your sauerkraut for up to a year, sometimes even longer.

Now for the unveiling!

Opening the crock and packing sauerkraut into jars. | makesauerkraut.com

Remove the lid from your crock, and take a peek inside. It might look a little scummy on top. This is just from some of the ingredients in your sauerkraut breaking down. Hopefully, your sauerkraut is still under the brine and all is fine.

In the picture of my crock, you can see that the weights have been pushed up by the action of the fermentation process but that the sauerkraut is still under the brine. The weights for this crock aren’t as heavy as I would like, but I soon plan to test out a heavier set.

Carry your crock to the kitchen, lift out the weights (place them in the sink for washing later) and take out the whole cabbage leaves, or whatever your used as a Floaties Trap. Take the crock to the sink and pour out the water in the moat.

Give the moat a good cleaning with a damp cloth. As you’re spooning sauerkraut out of the crock, it can fall into the moat. If the moat is clean, you can retrieve this sauerkraut.

Take a pinch and taste. I sure hope it’s good! If it does not have as much crunch as you would like, make note and ferment for shorter and/or in a cooler location next time.

Pack Into Jars

SFSK fermented in a crock and packed into jars. | makesauerkraut.com

Gather up some jars to pack your sauerkraut into. Quart (liter) canning jars work well for me. If you’re gifting some of your sauerkraut, you might want to use smaller jars for that portion. You can pack about 2 pounds of sauerkraut in to a quart (liter) jar. So, if you packed 10 pounds into your crock, you’ll need 5 jars. Sorry, my mathematical brain at work :0).

I use a large slotted spoon to put a few spoonfuls into a jar and pack it down with either the spoon or a kraut pounder. Once all the jars are packed, whatever brine is left in the crock gets evenly distributed among the jars.

Use tape to label the lid of each jar with the flavor, date harvested and how long you fermented it. I also like to note that it was fermented in a crock. I might put something like “Jan16 – Firecracker – 28d – Crock.”

Stash in Your Refrigerator or Other Cold Place

When choosing where to store your sauerkraut, remember it’s alive! The warmer the temperature, the faster it will continue to ferment and the greater chance for the “bad guys” to move back in and multiply, thus ruining your sauerkraut. Refrigerate sauerkraut to avoid spoilage.

Use dish soap to thoroughly wash your crock and weights.

Congratulations! Now, comes the best part… enjoying your sauerkraut.

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. Around 38°F (3°C) degrees you won’t notice much change in the texture over a 12-month period, the typical storage length for sauerkraut. Around 45-50°F (7-10°C) you will notice your sauerkraut getting softer as the months progress.
  • Not enough room in your refrigerator? Consider a second one if you have room in a garage, or the less-expensive solution? Clean up your refrigerator. There is more room in there than you realize.
    Clean up and toss out old or moldy mystery jars. 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.
  • Freezing is not recommended because it destroys the probiotics, maybe not all of the strains of bacteria but enough to make it not worth the time or effort.
  • Canning is also not recommend for lacto-fermented foods. The high heat destroys most, if not all, of the beneficial bacteria.
  • 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 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. I just leave them be.
  • Store you weights separate from your crock. Early on, I stored my weights in the crock. Bad idea! The next time I opened my crock, I was greeted by mold-encrusted weights.
    Unglazed weights need to dry in open air for a good week to make sure there is no longer any moisture left in them. I do this and then store them by themselves in one of my kitchen cabinets.
  • Make sure your crock is dry before you put it away. With the water-sealed crocks, it is especially hard to drain all the water from the crock. Wipe it down inside to make sure you have removed all moisture.


Enjoy SureFire Sauerkraut in a crock. | makesauerkraut.comAnd now for the best part: effortlessly adding the WOW! Factor to any dish or meal with that jar in your refrigerator.

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.

If you have a favorite cooked dish that uses sauerkraut, go ahead and cook the portion the recipe calls for and then add fresh sauerkraut when serving.

There are many easy ways to enjoy sauerkraut. | makesauerkraut.com

Condiment to the Main Meal

The easiest way to add sauerkraut to your diet is as a condiment. It pairs well with almost anything and is aids in the digestion of meats and fats.

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.

Scrambled Eggs for Breakfast?

Add a forkful of sauerkraut, a dollop of sour cream and some diced avocado. What a delicious way to start the day.

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.

Tacos

Any flavor of sauerkraut adds a whole new level of yumm! to tacos.

Hot Dog!

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

For more ideas see: 7 Easy Ways to Eat Sauerkraut

In addition, my eBook:

The SureFire Sauerkraut Recipe Collection includes 12 flavorful recipes and has Gourmet Pairing Options for each sauerkraut recipe. Lots to make your mouth water.

ENJOY Notes and Tips

  • Keep it simple. You can come up with all sorts of creative ways to eat sauerkraut, but the easiest 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 flavor on their plate.
  • 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.


SureFire Sauerkraut in a Crock Recipe

Grab a beautiful PDF download of this recipe to read on your tablet, phone or print a copy for easy access.

Also included is a subscription to a simple eight-week email course on fermenting in a crock.

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WOW, That Should Cover It! I hope you enjoyed learning how to make sauerkraut in a crock. You have many meals with delicious sauerkraut ahead.

What Fermentation Crock do you Own or Hope to Own? Is There Interesting History Associated With It? Share in the Comments Section

SureFire Sauerkraut in a Crock Recipe

Grab a beautiful PDF download of this recipe to read on your tablet, phone or print a copy for easy access.

Also included is a subscription to a simple eight-week email course on fermenting in a crock.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

71 thoughts on “How to Make Sauerkraut In a Crock in 7 Simple Steps [Healthy, Flavorful, Easy]”

  1. What a delight to come across your website Holly, with such delicious, beautiful and organized content for us ferment lovers!!! …and the timing couldn’t be better for me to find this particular article as I’ve just received my 3 gallon crock from Amazon.ca a few days ago and can’t wait to fill it up. You instructions are beautifully laid out and the images are priceless, thank you!

    I’m not totally new with ferments but still consider myself very much a beginner and your information is a God send 🙂
    I’ve been making lots of fermented pickles for years in mason jars and tried my hand for the first time at a rather large batch of 15 pounds of sauerkraut last fall with my garden cabbage. I used my grand mother’s old open crock, plate and jars full of water for weights…I had to stop the process short because the brine was slowly sweating through the crock glaze…I immediately jarred it and refrigerated – it still was very good at only 2 weeks fermentation – but we are running dangerously low on it now and I decided to go for the gold, since we eat a lot of it (must have some Korean past lives:) and get a water sealed crock.
    BTW there are still two available at amazon.ca at what seems a good price http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00HVFBTF2?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00

    I plan on using this large crock mostly in the fall with my own garden cabbages but it feel right to go on a search for more cabbages right now and get a batch on the go to keep us going till this years harvest. I love all the recipes you have created and will certainly be trying them as jar testers. I so appreciate what you have created with this website Holly.

    A question for you Holly. I’m leaning towards your ginger carrot recipe to add volume if I can’t find all of 25 pounds of cabbage and wondering if you have ever used powdered ginger instead of fresh when it’s not available. It can be hard to find in this part of the woods at this time of year.

    Many Blessings from Quebec,

    • Hello Fellow Canadian, You’ll love your 3-gallon water-sealed crock. I assume it’s the Ohio Stoneware. I have that and it holds a lot of sauerkraut; 25 pounds at least.

      Powdered Ginger. I have never used it in a ferment, though I used other powdered spices in my ferments. It will work. It’s just whether you’ll like the flavor or not. See more here: https://www.makesauerkraut.com/vegetables-used-to-make-sauerkraut/

      Here on Vancouver Island fresh ginger is readily available. A nice perk of the fresh is thing you get a “burst of ginger” as you eat the sauerkraut, that I quite like. A couple of suggestions.

      Do a liter-jar test batch. Use 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger and ferment it for a week to see if you like it. You can ferment it longer but at the one-week mark you’ll know if you like it and then you can get to using your new crock.

      Or, make the Sweet Garlic Sauerkraut – which is very similar to the Ginger Carrot – and wait until Fall when fresh ginger is available.

      Let me know how it goes, Holly P.S. Thank you for the wonderful feedback.

      • You well deserve the praise Holly you’ve done an exceptionally nice job and Yes it is the Ohio Stoneware.
        I’m about to give it it’s first wash, the weights have been drying in front of the wood stove since yesterday and I’ve found a spot in the kitchen on tile floor that only varied from 18 to 21C over the past few days, even with -27 last night, so I’m pleased about that.
        I agree that fresh ginger is the best and I’ll hold back on that recipe for the big batch for now and do a jar tester as soon as I can find fresh ginger. I’ll see what the next few days bring as far as cabbage quantity available,…I definitely want to put garlic in this time but my storage carrots are running low (the deer had a great lunch in the garden late last summer) so not sure if I should be using carrots at all this time around, hum,…it’s kind of a crazy time of year to be making a big batch of sauerkraut. I already have over 15 pounds of green and red cabbage on hand, so keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll come up with another 10-15 pounds more… I’ll let you know how this all unfolds.
        Have a wonderful day and thank you for sharing your expertise,
        Claire

        • The new 3 gallon crock has been filled and sealed as of 7:30pm yesterday evening. The cheerful burping through the water mote started 3 hours later. This batch is 25 lbs of mostly green cabbage with three purple heads, 5 home grown bulbs of garlic and 15 Tbs salt. At this time of year the cabbage is certainly not freshly picked, so I added 4 cups of 2% brine to make 1 1/2 inches above the weights…beautiful purple brine. Now the waiting game…decided to not peek and wait a full 4 weeks before jarring.
          Have a delightful day,
          Claire

          • Time for an update and question for you Holly.
            The crock “music” was sounding more like a gaggle of ducklings on days 1-2-3 building up to a crescendo of tones every 3-5 seconds on day 2. 🙂 The house was filled with the smell of garlic…we like garlic so not an issue.
            On the morning of day 5, the music had stopped and I noticed that the water in the mote had disappeared…I didn’t panic since you had mentioned that this could happen…I thought I was doing what you recommended Holly by moving the lid around in the mote, however that didn’t do anything to bring the water back, so I decided to add some water to fill the mote again…That was a mistake 🙂 The vanishing water started to gradually reappear a few hours later…too much now for the mote, so I used a turkey baster to suck the extra water (garlic smelling water) back out of the mote a number of times until it stabilized. The music started up again within the hour, but at a much slower pace and has been since…minutes rather than seconds.
            The next morning/day 6 the water in the mote was gone again, this time I gently lifted one side of the lid a tiny bit for a split second and ‘bloup’ the water reappeared in the mote and the music started again within the hour.
            Same scenario the morning of day 7 and this morning day 8. This morning though, I decided to wait and see if the water would return on its own, after 4 hours it hadn’t so I helped it along again.
            It’s a rather interesting feeling of resistance when gently pulling up on the lid to release the water back into the mote, a fine line to not let air in, which I don’t feel I did….it is so tempting to peek inside though.

            So my question to you Holly:
            From your experience, is the timing of the water starting to disappear from the mote daily now and the cycle of the first kind of bacteria ending (~ day 5),… is that noteworthy? As well as the frequency of music dropping from seconds to minutes at the same time?

            Your wisdom is appreciated,
            Many blessings,
            Claire

          • Hello Claire, A gaggle of ducklings in your home. How fun!

            The most active time for the fermentation process is generally during the first week. After that, it usually settles down with less “music” occurring. And yes, that is coinciding with the bacteria cycles.

            I also find that the movement of the water in and out of the moat is related to the temperature fluctuations in the home, acting somewhat like a barometer. Expansion as the house warms, contraction as the house cools.

            And, if you are fermenting on the warmer side, it can be more active. You will also lose some water due to evaporation. I find it helpful to check the moat each morning, pouring in a tad of water if necessary (after that lid wiggle trick) and then leaving it alone.

            Good idea to use the turkey baster. Sorry you had to resort to that but it’s a good trick for others to know about.

            Hope this helps. All the best, Holly

          • Thanks so much for getting back to me Holly and clarifying. The weather forecast next week calls for a rather drastic warm up from the arctic temps we’ve been having, so the temperature fluctuations in the house will not be as much. I placed the crock directly on the tile floor (picture included) hoping that since tiles don’t fluctuate in temperature as much as a wood or air temp, that there would not be an issue…so goes eh! I don’t expect I’ll be making big batches again at this time of year, so shouldn’t be an issue next time.

            …on another topic I did manage to find some ginger last weekend for jar experiments…bought enough to freeze some…thanks for that great idea. So I have three jars bubbling on the counter (picture included) Since I am low on carrots I’ve replaced them with rutabaga.
            From your recipes, one jar sweet garlic (on the left), one of ginger garlic rutabaga (middle), and an experiment of only rutabaga and ginger (on the right). I only had enough good cabbage leaves left to catch floaters for two jars, so the one on the left got some parchment paper and is not doing as well with escaping floaters …the bubbling has pushed the paper out around the inner glass jar and there are now a lot of floaters…so if ever I need to use paper again I’d most likely use a few layers to get some rigidity?…and I will stop this ferment at a week and see how it’s doing.
            The other two jars are doing fine…I like the colour of the rutabaga. It seems that the rutabaga on its own compacts more than with a cabbage combination for the same weight, so at the last minute I was scrambling to find something to place in the inner jar to push against the large jar cap…what looks dark in the top of the jar is a short piece of dark very hard exotic hardwood from our kindling pile…I’m already spotting things around the house that would be better stand-ins than wood, if this happens again.
            I love experimenting, so it’s all fun.
            Many blessings for sharing your wisdom Holly,
            Claire

          • Great! And, so good to hear of all your experiments. Let me know how the rutabaga ones taste. I tend to stay away from the bitter root vegetables. Happy Day!

          • Yesterday – day 25 – was the unveiling of the first batch of kraut in the new water seal crock – it is a total success!!!
            Absolutely no slime or mold of any kind, lots of brine, a very nice crunch, taste wonderful and it’s magenta in colour!!!

            Purchasing this crock was definitely a stretch financially but it has been worth it 200%…and it is going to get a lot of use and pay for itself many times over in no time at all…we’ve already eaten a third of a jar in less than 24 hours :))) The decision to plant even more cabbage in the garden has been made.

            The ease of just checking the mote water level and rattling the lid on a daily basis for that last three weeks (the house temp fluctuation this winter, seems to have been a little more than it could handle) is very little for the peace of mind of knowing all is unfolding happily sight unseen….oh and there is the music bubbles that are a very clear sign that all is still working…they do slow down quite a bit but their presence is reassuring.
            I’ve included a few pictures…since I was wondering if everything would be stained purple because of the purple cabbage that was included but not at all, everything washed out like brand new.

            My only surprise in the “opening process”, was finding that the weights had been pushed up completely to the top of the crock and were locked in, so after clearing the escapy floaties off the top of the weights (1st picture was taken before doing that), I had to press down very firmly on the weights and do some fancy wiggling to get them out.
            All in all, a tremendous success. 12 liter jars and two smaller ones, and did I say how I love the added bonus of the magenta colour!
            Thank you so much for all your wisdom Holly, it was so comforting to have a pro to consult with!

            * The 3 jar experiments on the counter still have at least an other week to go.

            Many blessings,
            Claire

          • Beautiful Claire! Thank you for sharing your sauerkraut-in-a-water-sealed-crock journey. Your pictures make me hungry.

            The bulging weights? I’ve experience that also, but I thought it was due to some skimpy weights which I know the Ohio Stoneware are not. Fermenting sauerkraut is just powerful stuff.

            Happy to be there for you during the process. All the best, Holly

          • My kraut has been in the crock now for 7 weeks at about 65-68 degrees.
            The last 2 times I checked it was smelling…bad…and there were blue mold spots floating on top and the color of the liquid is much cloudier. I’m ready to put the kraut in jars now but am anxious about adding the liquid. Will it keep for 6mos or so without any liquid? Is the taste test the only way to determine if my batch failed? ….not looking forward to that…

            Thanks

          • Hello Roland, If you have mold and it smells bad, it might be. See if you can scoop off the mold specs and the top layer of sauerkraut. If it is fresh and clean smelling below that, then you can give it a taste. If not, the batch might need to be tossed. The mold sits on the surface and the brine below will be fine, if the sauerkraut is good. Your nose will tell you if the batch is good. If you are too put off by the smell to taste it, then most likely it is bad. Let me know what recipe you followed and how much salt was used and we can troubleshoot this batch.

          • I followed your recipe and weighed every thing per your spec—3 Tbsn salt / 5lbs cabbage
            I decided to can the batch immediately, tasted it and it was GOOD but way too salty….for my taste
            It is very flavorful and crisp. It could have been the mold and the few gelatinous floaters caused the stink.
            I checked my covered 3 gal crock every week or so and had to add BRINE twice during the 7 weeks as the fluid level had dropped to just at the surface of the cabbage at the bottom of the ceramic weights. I say brine because the only reference I could find to adding additional liquids was under SUBMERGE Notes and Tips–1 Tbsn salt/2 cups water.
            Kind of like the Salton Sea or the Great Salt Lake……water evaporates and salinity increases.
            Next time I’ll only add purified water that I’ve boiled and let cool.
            I’m doing pickles today and when they’re done, I’ll start on another batch o’ kraut !!

          • Hello Holly, the jar experiments are over for now…we tested the counter jar kraut on day 30/Tuesday. Pleasantly surprised again.
            The rutabaga mixed in with cabbage is unnoticeable in flavour or texture, so that’s very positive.
            Even though there was exactly the same amount of garlic in two jars (cabbage/rutabaga/garlic and cabbage/rutabaga/garlic/ginger), the garlic flavour is greatly toned down by the ginger, and the ginger is definitely a lot weaker in the mixed jar than in the rutabaga/ginger only jar, both jars got the same amount of ginger.
            Now the rutabaga with ginger only, is very gingery (yum), and the flavour overall is great but the texture is not crunchy at all, not soft either but more chewy for a lack of a better word.
            So rutabaga alone won’t be repeated but good as a mix in with cabbage when carrots are not available.
            We like ginger so I would most likely increase the quantity in the next batch.
            Now it’s time to plan where all the extra cabbages are going to get planted in the veggie garden.
            Many blessings and we’ll be in contact again I’m sure.
            Claire

          • Thank you for sharing the results of your experiments. I’ll have to add the info to my vegetables post because I’m not at all inclined to experiment with rutabagas 🙂 but many others want to know.

            On quantities, I recommend keeping cabbage at 75% to get a good texture and “proper” ferment. Another nugget for future experiments. This should help when trying to guess how much to add to a ferment. – Happy Fermenting!

  2. Hi Holly, Great site! Thanks for posting all this great information. I started making my own kraut this year in a crock that Santa brought me. It was purchased from the community farm store in Duncan. I am currently making my second batch. The first one turned out pretty good, 3 week ferment with carrot and ginger.

    I made a mistake when storing my stones though, I washed everything and left the stones to dry for a day or so then put back in the crock and stored. I started a second batch this past Saturday, I had everything ready to pot ( about 20 lbs of veggies) when I pulled my weights out of the crock they were covered in black mold!!!!

    I washed everything with soap and water, then soaked the weights in vinegar/water solution then threw in the oven on 350 for about an hour…There were still a couple dark spots on the weights, but I decided to use them anyway. I hope it turns out okay????

    Second mistake I overfilled the crock…today was the 3 day of fermentation and I thought that the brine was leaking into the moat…I opened it up and removed a bit of brine which was at the very top. The level is now approximately 1/2 inch from the top! There is about 1″ of brine left above the weights. Do you think it will overflow again?

    Thanks again for all the info!

    Steve

    • Hello Steve, What a great gift from Santa! You’ll enjoy that crock for many years to come.

      Sorry to hear about the weight storage mistake. As you can see in my post, I’ve made the same error. I wonder if you could sand off the last bit of mold? I think you’ll be OK for your current batch, however. Maybe the bacteria in the fermentation will eat it for you. 🙂

      The most active time for the fermentation is the first week, so if you get by then you probably should be OK. The cooler it is, the less active, so you could now move it to a cooler spot (60-65°F; 16-18°C, approximately) and see if that prevents the brine overflow. You could also take a jar’s worth out and leave that to ferment on your counter. I’m glad you’re finding the site useful. Enjoy!

  3. Hi Holly- I just started my very first batch of sauerkraut- ever. Sure wish I found your blog before I started! I have a 5 gallon crock, non-sealed, that I got as a Christmas present. I only filled it about 1/3 of the way full but as I read your notes, it looks like that was not a great idea. And you recommend covering it with plastic wrap as well? Oops. Its been fermenting about 7-8 days and there is definitely a pungent smell- enough that my husband wants it out of the kitchen. I know kraut can smell strong but is this type of odor normal? And should I scrap this batch and start again? We live in the desert, so below 72 is difficult, especially when we are pushing 90 degrees and its not yet April. Am I doomed to a life of no fermentation in AZ?? 🙂 ANY thoughts or suggestions would be great! 🙂

    • There are many people who ferment in Arizona, so hang in there. You’ll be doing short 1-2 week ferments, most likely. You can wrap the crock in a wet towel for some evaporative cooling. You can also search “ways to ferment in hot weather” since I’ve yet to write that post.

      If your salt numbers were close and you don’t see molds, I would guess the pungent smell is sauerkraut. Covering it with plastic or a thick towel will help reduce the odors. Search for a cooler spot out of the main living area, can also help. Have to keep the husband happy, so he’ll want to eat some too!

      Give it a taste. If it is getting soft, it is done. It will ferment much quicker in the heat. 1/3 of the way full is not as big an issue with the open crocks as with a water-sealed crock. Open is open whether 50% or 30%. Good luck.

  4. Hi Holly,
    I’ve been fermenting in a Harsch crock for two years and have had mostly successful batches. Unfortunately, my husband dropped my crock and broke off one side of the moat. The main part is still intact. I love this crock as the moat is very deep, and would like to glue it back together if possible. Do you know of any food-grade glue that I can use? I have another crock, but the moat is pretty shallow and we have some big barometric changes from time to time. I’ve actually had two batches go bad due to all the water being sucked inside the moat and air getting in. Wiggling the lid didn’t fix the situation so I had to add more water. One time, I actually had a SCOBY on top and the cabbage turned pink. Ewwww! Anyway, glue recommendations? Thanks!

    • Yes, I love my Harsh crock too and doing our move almost 10 years, the lid broke. I used a non food-grade glue, I’m sure. So, no I do not know of a glue to recommend. It may not be a big issue if… one can keep the water in the moat. I try to check daily and also keep it in an area where there aren’t great temperature swings. Sorry, I couldn’t be of more help.

      • The only thing I’m worried about is if the water gets sucked into the moat and gets into the kraut. But thanks!

    • Hi Laurel,
      I’m not sure if this will be helpful, but I inherited a gigantic old crock that has a crack down it. I’m not sure if it got glued but it has a layer of wax covering it. This of course makes it water proof and usable now. I thought perhaps you could glue your crock and then coat the glued area in a food grade wax? Then your glue exposure would be limited or eliminated and if any wax chips off, it should float. Hope this helps!

  5. Hello (again)!

    I recently purchased a water sealed Boleslaweic 5L crock from stone creek trading and it is gorgeous! This is my first time using it (sauerkraut- only salt and cabbage) and we are 2 weeks and 3 days into it. I have noticed that the water has disappeared overnight about 8 times (!!) and now I’m terrified to see how bad it turns out. I fill it with water every 1-2 days. The temps drop overnight in my house and I don’t have much control over that. We don’t have a basement or any room with a more stable temp. The temps in kitchen have been 68-73. Is this normal???

    • Under the Ferment Tips I cover the moat/water issue:

      “If the water in the moat seems to suddenly disappear, don’t panic. This is due to barometric changes that can pull the water to the inside of your moat and make it look like it has all evaporated. Carefully, move the lid just a tad – don’t lift it out – and the water should flow back to the visible side of the moat.”

      You should be able to go more like 5 days without filling it. I’ve started telling people to use salt water (1 tablespoon salt to 2 cups water) in the moat so that if it does overflow into the crock, you’re not diluting the brine. It wouldn’t hurt to take a peak inside – even taste – and see how everything looks. If the brine tastes watery, you could add a teaspoon so of salt to it if you want to leave it to ferment longer.

  6. I just finished packing 12 jars of carrot/ginger/garlic sauerkraut from my 3 gallon water sealed crock…a 5 week ferment which is what we’ve decided we like the best.
    What a dream it is to work with this crock! Now on my fourth batch, I trust that if I make sure the weights are at least an inch below the brine, that I check the mote daily and giggle it when the water disappears (only twice this time), and add a little water if it drops (again only a tiny bit twice)…all will be fine, since no air can get in. I’ve gotten into the habit of covering the lid very carefully with a pair of criss-crossed tea towels to make sure nothing gets into the mote water, and it seems to evaporate less. I also place the crock on a three inch piece of Styrofoam and it seems to be much happier with the temperature in the workshop, where it burps away happily everyday. Every batch has progressed a little differently but the results have all been very good. Thank Holly for all your tips, being there when we’re not sure what we’re doing and sharing your wisdom so joyfully.

    • Some helpful gems here, Claire. Thanks you for sharing your helpful tips. The Styrofoam is a nice way to keep the temps stable in a cool workshop. Enjoy the “burping away happily” from this well-tended member of your family.

  7. As always, thanks for the very detailed and thorough guide! I received my first two water sealed crocks (5L and 10L) and am preparing to graduate from jars. I’m glad you suggested using brine for the moat. Overflowing from any pressure changes was one of my concerns.

    Two initial questions: How high do you recommend filling the moat? (around half or three quarters?) Do you have any suggestions for removing water from the moat, before removing the lid, when the batch is finished? (I’m considering trying a baster)

    • Congratulations Graduate!!! I fill my moat about 3/4s. Gives it a bit of wiggle room for pressure changes. With both of my crocks, I’m able to lift them and pour out the moat water into my sink. I baster is probable a better idea. I remove the lid first. Enjoy the first batches. What flavor will you be fermenting???

  8. I have made sauerkraut several years in a 10L crock. Is it possible to make half a batch and still use this size crock? Thank you!

    • Ideally, no. You want your crock about 3/4s full to prevent having too much headspace, hence air in the crock which is a welcome mat for mold spores, even with it sealed.

      • Thank you! I just have a small crop of cabbage this year, so not sure I want to make such a large batch. I have never worked with mason jars to make sauerkraut – If I go this route, would you happen know what type of lid to place on top. I have seen cloth with an elastic and some sites a regular lid/band. Although I don’t think it is meant to be sealed tight. Thank you for your help. Donna

          • I will try it! Funny I feel it is so much easier in the 10L! Always had a good batch with no worries! 🙂

          • Not a pro – this year. It is the 10L water seal crock. I decided to use the crock, read my recipe incorrectly and added 2 Tablespoons of salt to every 8 cups! After all that work I probably will end up throwing it out. 🙁

          • Sad! Those 2 T would normally ferment 10 pounds of cabbage. See how it does. Might not ferment at all, depending upon how tightly you packed those 8 cups. Taste it around the 2-3 week mark and see if it is souring at all.

          • OK! Here is the update Holly! I tested it at the 3 week mark, and it is not 100% sour, but I am feeling 1 more week and she will be fine! Is it ok that I dipped into the crock and tested it at this point? It does taste great!

          • Good to hear. Let it continue to ferment and yes, it is fine to sample. How else will you know what length of fermentation time you prefer? Just repack nicely after tasting.

  9. I’ve just finished my first batch in a crock, been using mason jars before. About 3/4 of the way through packing I picked up the crock and the bottom felt…unpleasent. Turns out there was a grayish fuzzy mold with a smell underneath the crock. The insides were clear of this and smelled like sour kraut (and were delicious as I had been tasting while packing). I have some small carpet squares wit rubber backing I use upside down to move heavy furniture on my hardwoods. I used this carpet side down/rubber side up to protect from moisture and scratching from the crock. I can only assume that the rubber created a seal with the bottom an the mold grew from any moisture that got through during the 3 weeks of not moving.

    Any recommendations of the best way to clean the bottom of the crock? It’s been scrubbed with Dawn but I’m assuming vinegar or a mild bleach solution would be a good idea.

  10. Oh how I wish I had found this website before making my first batch of sauerkraut yesterday in our new water sealed crock!!! What a wonderful resource you have created. Thank you I am already smelling sauerkraut when I get near the crock. I’m afraid I didn’t use enough salt. I put it all in yesterday evening. Is it too late to open it and add more salt? Also, should the lid be a little bit “floaty”? The crock is on my kitchen counter. I bumped the lid and it felt that way and bubbles escaped. Does this mean I don’t have a good seal?

    • Hello Tonya, I also wish you had found my site earlier, but… Why don’t you sneak a taste of the mixture. It should taste somewhat salty like a potato chip, but not super salty like when swallowing sea water. If you can’t taste the salt, you would be OK adding more. Again, going by taste at this point. You’d have to take everything out and mix real well.

      Yes, the lid can be a bit floaty. You have a proper seal, I’m guessing – as along as the bottom of the lid is in the water. Bumping it just helped the bubbles that need to escape, escape.

      • Hi Holly…Speaking of salt…I just made my first batch in a 10L crock. It’s been four weeks today. It’s very crunchy and has nice color, but it’s a hair too salty…not terribly salty, but a bit more than I’d like. Do you think it’d be cool to add some clear filtered water to the batch before I pack the jars? Would that water down the saltiness,,,or should I just deal with it the way it is…it’s not bad really. I may let it ferment another week as well.

  11. Could you please explain what a “moat” is? I have a straight-sided crock with a flat lid (like the two-gallon crock in your illustration photos). I don’t understand “Put the lid on and fill the moat with water.” Thanks for otherwise excellent instructions.

  12. Hi Holly…Speaking of salt…I just made my first batch in a 10L crock. It’s been four weeks today. It’s very crunchy and has nice color, but it’s a hair too salty…not terribly salty, but a bit more than I’d like. Do you think it’d be cool to add some clear filtered water to the batch before I pack the jars? Would that water down the saltiness,,,or should I just deal with it the way it is…it’s not bad really. I may let it ferment another week as well.

    • Yes, see how it is in a week or so. I recommend against adding water; dilutes the flavors and can result in mushy sauerkraut. When you pack it into jars, try an experiment for me. Add a peeled and sliced, thick slice of potato to the top of a jar (give it a few days to a week) and see it that absorbs the salt. It is suppose to. Just haven’t tried it myself You can also rinse before eating; will wash away some but not all of the beneficial bacteria.

      • Thanks Holly; will do. It’s week five today, so any day now I’ll be jarring them, and I will try the potato idea in a few of the jars if necessary. I’ll get back to you on that. thanks again.

  13. Hi Holly,
    Thank you for the wonderful guidance on ‘kraut making. My family and I just completed 300lbs of cabbage yesterday! We typically store the kraut in food safe plastic buckets. I place the entire bucket in a clean garbage bag, fold the garbage bag over, then place a plate on top, followed by a gallon water bottle to weight it. It usually turns out great. This year the cabbage seems to be very wet — I checked this morning and there is brine escaping over the plate… I know this is part of the normal process, my question is, do I let that brine stay on top of the plate? I know that being exposed to the air, it will probably start to grow mold and I don’t want that seeping back into the sauerkraut, but I also know that I don’t want to put another bag on top and not allow for the gases to escape. And I don’t want to disturb the plate and expose the rest of my kraut to the air.

    Should I be skimming this brine off the top of the plate on a regular basis or should I let it go and just be sure to clear it off before “harvesting” my kraut in 7 weeks?

    Thank you!
    Stacey

    • 300 pounds!!! That is insane. How many of you get to enjoy all that delicious sauerkraut?

      Sealing the crock and brine seepage? If it was me – and I haven’t fermented in open crocks – I would place the plate directly on top of the cabbage, add the gallon water bottle weight, and THEN pull the bag tight over all of that – gather up the opening and tie closed some way. That way, your sauerkraut stays under the brine and you have the plastic bag to act as your “lid” and any gases can escape. And, you won’t have the plastic in contact with the sauerkraut. Check it around the 10-day mark, but everything should happily remain below the brine – especially with your moisture-rich cabbage – throughout fermentation. You might have a mold layer form on top – typical of open crock fermenting – but that is removed before transferring it into jars. What temps are you fermenting at?

      • Thank you! That is exactly what I’ll do! I usually make sauerkraut every year with friends and their family. We have a huge party. Everyone brings something tasty to snack on and a five gallon bucket and we shred, fondle, and tampe away! One year we placed an order for 2400 pounds of cabbage! We’ve found that one 50lb bag of cabbage makes a 5 gallon bucket of ‘kraut. We let it ferment for 7 weeks in an area that is between 50 and 75 degrees. Once the 7 weeks is up, many people will “harvest” the ‘kraut and divide it into gallon-sized freezer bags, label it with a date, and have sauerkraut for a year. Others ferment in cooler temps and just pull some kraut out of the bucket throughout the year when needed. My family wanted to start making it so my brother in law got his great grandfather’s wooden mandolin and tamper (from the late 1800’s) and I showed my family how to make it! We made 5 and a half five gallon buckets of kraut for 5 families.

  14. Your Kimchi Style Sauerkraut recipe, you don’t specify what type of raddish you are using. Could you clarify on that please.

  15. What a great guide! I read this article before making my first kraut batch 6 months ago and have made several successful batches since then. Followed your directions to a T and everything came out as expected. My wife and I eat almost a gallon of it per month, so I end up making a new batch almost as soon as the previous one is finished! haha. We eat it plain, and have introduced our friends to it who love it too.

    I am amazed at how much the kraut burps in the first few days. The batch I just started has been burping every 15 seconds for a full day now like a clock. The baby thinks the noise is funny.

    For the Kimchi style, I would recommend using the authentic gochugaru red pepper powder (it’s on Amazon) and also adding a tbsp of fermented fish sauce to each 5lb batch. The fish sauce smell can be unpleasant at first but it completely disappears during the fermentation and adds a richer taste to the kimchi.

    • This is so good to hear. Cheers to many more successful batches fermented with many burps! Thanks for alerting me to my “outdated” ingredients. I’ve updated the “jar” recipe but neglected to do so here. I added you fish sauce – with its helpful “smell” note – tip, too.

  16. Hello! thank you for the great tutorial. I hope you can offer some more help. I wish I had read *all* of the comments before I did mine.

    I followed your instructions and did the ginger/garlic sauerkraut. I weighed and measured everything. Anyway, as you warned about, the water suddenly went very low. This happened many times. I tried adjusting the lid, but I guess I didn’t do it enough, so the water did not flow back out to where I could see it in the lip. I added water to the lip area a lot! Today I opened it up with nervousness and excitement! The good: no scum or anything. The bad: a lot of liquid! I guess all that water went into the crock itself. I did use one head of purple cabbage and the kraut is so pretty! (I wish I could send you a pic!) But of course I am concerned about bad things in it and eating it. Like I said: no scum, mold, not even any floaties anywhere. I tasted it and it is very sour! And so far, I still feel fine. 😉 But just a lot of extra liquid, like almost 3 quarts of just liquid, along with the massive amounts of kraut itself.

    What do you think? Would you eat it?

    Thanks!

    • Enjoy the goodness! From your description of your watered-down sauerkraut, all sounds good. Pack into jars saving excess liquid in a separate jar to drink as a “watery” gut-shots, that will also be full of probiotic goodness. Your sauerkraut was probably well-preserved, lots of lactic-acid produced and low pH that it survived the excess water.

  17. Holly, after finding your site, we dove right in and got a 5L crock and the scale you recom https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/718583661b2323a3f0b766be7deed44621562ee3778aaf9a15a1376062382015.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b05e7f4c3d48bf2b1fac2db5f10de23adc7c48e86c80d2f228c56f72e2efbe8.jpg mended. Started with the Ginger carrot recipe as our 1st Time Eva try at sauerkraut. Followed ALL your instructions and,,,,,,,,,, After 7 weeks at 60 to 65 degrees, give or take a few, I managed to only peek once, and just opened the crock today for jarring. Well, I must say,,,,,, we are very disappointed,,,,,

    That we did not get ingredients for our 2nd batch Eva to get going immediately!

    The kraut came out truly AWESOME ! And that is an understatement..

    Crunchy, bright, tangy, great depth of flavor. Very, very impressed and, thanks to you, it was very easy to do.

    I posted to FB…… many of my friends will be quite jealous.

    Thanks so much,,,,,,,

    Kimchee is next

    Thank you so much,
    Cindy and John

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