Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sauerkraut at Home

I have been seeing instructions on the interwebs for home sauerkraut production for a while now. It seems like a fairly simple process so I decided to give it a whirl on a small scale.

I started by removing the outer leaves of a couple nice heads of cabbage and coring them. I guess you could finely shred the stuff in your food processor, but I favor a rougher more home style kraut. I just chopped it up with my chef's knive.

As I threw handfuls of cabbage into the bowl I sprinkled them with some kosher salt. I kind of eyeballed the amount of salt, but I have read that 3 tablespoons is enough for 5 pounds of cabbage. I pounded on the whole mess with the back of a wooden spoon for a bit to get the juices flowing and to form a brine. Kraut uses a lactic acid fermentation process, kind of like pickles.

The next step is to pack it into the vessel in which the kraut will ferment. I used a ceramic crock thing that I have. Careful what you use for this, if the vessel has a glaze that is not rated for food, some nasty chemicals could leach into your cabbage. You need to have a lid that will fit into the opening without forming a seal. It is necessary to leave a small amount of space to allow the brine to rise up and cover the cabbage. This will prevent the kraut from spoiling.

The final step is to find something to weigh down the lid. You could use anything with some weight to it that can be sterilized. I used a large can of tomatoes that I sealed in a clean plastic bag. Throw a clean kitchen towel over the contraption and wait a couple of weeks.

I am hoping for the best with this experiment. I love sauerkraut, and making it seems to be a very affordable and time efficient process. If this turns out good then I don't see any reason to continue consuming store bought kraut. I will, of course, publish a future update with the results.

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  1. Best of luck with your experiment. I recently made kimchi for the first time which is similar, but has a few more steps and a bigger list of ingredients. It turned out alright, but I had originally over-salted it. If that happens to you, a quick rinse and an extra few days of fermenting action should do the trick.

  2. Did anything else go into the kraut? Juniper berries, caraway seeds?

    Went to a slow-food dinner once where the centerpiece of the meal was a homemade Sauerkraut. It was awesome stuff.

    Pork and sauerkraut. It's a blissful combo.

  3. When I make it using store cabbage, I find that it is too dry to make enough juice to cover so I need to use boiled water and a couple of teaspoons of salt. If the cabbage is not under the brine it will just rot and turn black. Also I use a potato masher to pound the cabbage into the bucket and pack it tight.


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