Trinity’s Guide To Making Sauerkraut (in a jar) with video

  • How to make sauerkraut at home in a jar by Trinity

Sauerkraut is essentially finely shredded cabbage that has been allowed to ferment with naturally occurring lactic acid ‘friendly’ bacteria. I say ‘cabbage’ although you can include other veggies in this process too.

The sauerkraut is actually achieved by a natural and healthy process of pickling called lactic acid fermentation. The friendly bacteria are already present on raw cabbage – we are simply nurturing it and giving them optimal conditions to thrive and develop. When raw cabbage is introduced to a salty, oxygen-free environment, the process then allows the friendly bacteria to proliferate, whilst keeping harmful bacteria at bay.

In this session, we are going to look at the technique of dry salting to make sauerkraut. This is a method of fermentation that relies on a saline (salt) environment and an anaerobic (i.e. no oxygen) environment to create this pro-biotic friendly food.

In the olden days, people used to ferment foods like cabbage as a means to preserve veggies over the cold harsh winters when little food was available. These days it tends to be used as an incredible health food as a source of super-healthy friendly bacteria that supports our gut and overall health.

When it is fully cured, sauerkraut keeps for several months if stored at 15C (60F) or below, in an airtight container. Ideally use glass or a ceramic/porcelain crockpot (avoid plastic or metal, so that you don’t get leaching).

Sauerkraut is jam-packed full of vitamins and minerals. It has also been said that the fermentation process is somewhat like having your food pre-digested for you. This, in turn, increases the bioavailability of nutrients making sauerkraut even more nutritious than the original cabbage (and easier to digest).

Fundamentals of sauerkraut making – key points

The importance of room temperature during your fermenting period

Temperature is important for the developmental stage of the sauerkraut.

The ideal temperature is between 18C and 22C (64/65F – 72F). Anything warmer and the ferment may spoil. Anything cooler will slow down the fermentation process.

The importance of keeping your ferment below the brine

Keeping everything below the brine is a key factor when making successful sauerkraut. We are talking oxygen-free, salty brine water – otherwise, you might get mould or dry powdery yeasts growing, as well as unfriendly bacteria.

Keeping your ferment below the brine, however, creates an anaerobic, oxygen-free environment which allows beneficial bacteria to proliferate.

Mould can’t grow if there is no oxygen. Salt also prevents unfriendly bacteria growing whilst allowing good bacteria to multiply. In other words, it nurtures the friendly bacteria.

Basically, if you leave anything above the brine it will very likely attract mould. I would also add that if you leave too much air at the top of your sauerkraut then yeast may also begin to grow. So always remember… KEEP YOUR FERMENT BELOW THE BRINE 

The importance of having a barrier at the top

You need a barrier to stop your cabbage or vegetables floating to the top of the brine. This barrier can be:

  • The clean/healthy outer leaves of the cabbage
  • Unbleached parchment paper (as used in the image above)
  • A piece of cheesecloth
  • Food grade plastic (i.e. a pot or bag)

The importance of having a weight to hold down your barrier

OK, we are almost there!

We just need to think about having a weight to hold down the barrier. You have probably guessed that the veggies will rise and try to pop up above the brine, even with a barrier. This means that you also need a weight to hold down your barrier.

Using a small jar (see image above) and filling it with water or something clean and weighty will do the trick nicely. Some people buy purpose made stones for the job too.

Getting the salt ratio right is crucial

It’s important to use the correct amount of salt for making sauerkraut. Too little can spoil the process. I would suggest you actually measure your ingredients approximately to make sure you are getting the sort of ratio required for a good ferment. In the recipes below I’ve recommended ratios that should work well. A general rule of thumb is to use 1 tablespoon of sea salt per 750g or cabbage or veggies.

In brief:
Three important keys to making a successful sauerkraut

  1. Using the right amount of salt
  2. Keeping all of your veggies below the brine
  3. Using a weight to hold everything below the brine line
  4. Fermenting at the correct room temperature

How to make sauerkraut

  1. Make sure your hands and any equipment that you are going to use are clean.
  2. Take the outer leaves off the cabbage (be sure to keep a good, clean healthy one to hand
    because you will need it later if you are choosing to use it as your ‘top’ barrier layer).
  3. Core the cabbage.
  4. Grate with a grater or in a food processor or shred the cabbage finely with a knife or
    mandolin.
  5. Put shredded cabbage into a large bowl. Be sure the bowl is large enough to leave plenty
    of room in it.
  6. Add other ingredients if you are using any other vegetable etc. and also add salt at this stage (see ingredient suggestions below).
  7. Spend five minutes massaging ingredients in the bowl, squeezing through with your hands.
  8. Leave for half an hour or so (longer is fine) and then return. The juices should be readily releasing from the cabbage by now. Massage and squeeze again. The juice should have readily unleashed itself from the rest stage. If there is not quite so much juice then don’t be too concerned because you can always add a small amount of spring water if absolutely needed. (See image above for this stage and be sure to watch my video demo).
  9. Pack or massage your ingredients down firmly into a large glass jar and pour any liquid
    left in the bowl on the top.
  10. Next, you will need to be sure to keep the cabbage beneath the brine during the ferment. Cut a piece of parchment paper and press down on to the sauerkraut to form a lid that is sinking into the brine whilst holding the veggies down. Alternatively, tear one of the outer cabbage leaves to size and press down until the sauerkraut is submerged in its own brine. Then weigh down with a clean jar (filled with water or clean rocks if more weight is required). Pop a loose fitting lid or cloth on top (be sure that you don’t seal your jar, because there may be pressure inside as the ferment develops which will need to escape).
  11. Alternatively (for keeping cabbage beneath the brine), use a clean plastic food-grade bag (i.e. a freezer bag or a ziplock bag) instead. Open up your bag and pop over the jar edges. Compress the sauerkraut downwards (by pressing down through the bag) and then when compressed, fill the bag with water to weigh it down. Just be sure that there is minimal oxygen getting to the cabbage and that it is completely submerged.
  12. Put your fermenting jar into a tray or bowl, in case the ferment bubbles over at any time during the first few days.
  13. If you don’t have enough brine forming for full submerging, then mix some salt with spring water and add that to your sauerkraut.
  14. Timing is a personal preference. Anything between three days and months will be right for your sauerkraut. The longer you leave it the more opportunity the friendly bacteria will have to develop.
  15. Over time it will change in colour, texture and flavour. Find what works for you.
  16. Check on your sauerkraut daily, tampering it back down. If it doesn’t have enough water remember to add some extra spring water mixed with salt.
  17. Keep smelling and tasting your sauerkraut to see how it develops.
  18. When you are happy with it, seal the lid and store in your fridge (or in a room that is 15C or cooler). It should keep for months.

Sauerkraut Recipes (3 ways)

Use the above instructions with the following ingredients:

1. Simple and wonderful

750g (approximately) green or white cabbage
1 tablespoon sea salt

2. Ginger Zinger Sauerkraut

100g carrot
650g red or white cabbage
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon ginger (finely grated)

3. Garlic Beetroot High Vibe Sauerkraut

550g white cabbage
1 beetroot (tennis ball sized)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 small garlic clove (finely grated or crushed)1 handful fresh parsley leaves
1 small handful chives

Sauerkraut Making Video

I’ve made a super helpful video to take you through the entire process, please check it out before you make your sauerkraut…

Yield: 1 x 700ml Jar

Ginger Zinger Red Sauerkraut (in a jar)

Ingredients

  • 100g carrot
  • 650g red or white cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (finely grated)

Instructions

  1. Make sure your hands and any equipment that you are going to use are clean.
  2. Take the outer leaves off the cabbage (be sure to keep a good, clean healthy one to hand because you will need it later if you are choosing to use it as your ‘top’ barrier layer).
  3. Core the cabbage.
  4. Grate with a grater or in a food processor or shred the cabbage finely with a knife or mandolin.
  5. Put shredded cabbage into a large bowl. Be sure the bowl is large enough to leave plenty of room in it.
  6. Grate the carrot and add it to the bowl.
  7. Finely grate the ginger and add to the bowl along with the salt.
  8. Spend five minutes massaging ingredients in the bowl, squeezing through with your hands.
  9. Leave for half an hour or so (longer is fine) and then return. The juices should be readily releasing from the cabbage by now. Massage and squeeze again. The juice should have readily unleashed itself from the rest stage. If there is not quite so much juice then don't be too concerned because you can always add a small amount of spring water if absolutely needed. (Be sure to watch my video demo).
  10. Pack or massage your ingredients down firmly into a large glass jar and pour any liquid left in the bowl on the top.
  11. Next, you will need to be sure to keep the cabbage beneath the brine during the ferment. Cut a piece of parchment paper and press down on to the sauerkraut to form a lid that is sinking into the brine whilst holding the veggies down. Alternatively, tear one of the outer cabbage leaves to size and press down until the sauerkraut is submerged in its own brine. Then weigh down with a clean jar (filled with water or clean rocks if more weight is required). Pop a loose fitting lid or cloth on top (be sure that you don’t seal your jar, because there may be pressure inside as the ferment develops which will need to escape).
  12. Alternatively (for keeping cabbage beneath the brine), use a clean plastic food-grade bag (i.e. a freezer bag or a ziplock bag) instead. Open up your bag and pop over the jar edges. Compress the sauerkraut downwards (by pressing down through the bag) and then when compressed, fill the bag with water to weigh it down. Just be sure that there is minimal oxygen getting to the cabbage and that it is completely submerged.
  13. Put your fermenting jar into a tray or bowl, in case the ferment bubbles over at any time during the first few days.
  14. If you don’t have enough brine forming for full submerging, then mix some salt with spring water and add that to your sauerkraut.
  15. Timing is a personal preference. Anything between three days and months will be right for your sauerkraut. The longer you leave it the more opportunity the friendly bacteria will have to develop.
  16. Over time it will change in colour, texture and flavour. Find what works for you.
  17. Check on your sauerkraut daily, tampering it back down. If it doesn’t have enough water remember to add some extra spring water mixed with salt.
  18. Keep smelling and tasting your sauerkraut to see how it develops.
  19. When you are happy with it, seal the lid and store in your fridge (or in a room that is 15C or cooler). It should keep for months.

Pin for later…

How to make sauerkraut at home in a jar by Trinity

 

3 Comments

  1. Sarojini November 19, 2018 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the detailed advice, especially on salt ratio. I often make sauerkraut, the way you describe , but I have had the odd failure through not enough salt. I use freezer bags filled with warm water to hold the cabbage down. I find the warm water helps get the ferment going.

  2. Judee November 22, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    i’ve thought about making fermented vegetables and or sauerkraut for a long time- but it scared me.. Your post is so detailed and helpful.. Might give it a try!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.