Sauerkraut is the perfect way to begin making naturally fermented food at home. It's simple to prepare and the complex lactic acid tang of sauerkraut makes it a versatile addition to a number of dishes. Once you've got a few batches under your belt, it's fun to experiment with new flavors by adding spices, fruits and other vegetables.

At its heart, the process of making sauerkraut is simple. Salt extracts the juices from shredded cabbage, covering the cabbage with a brine. There, in the absence of air below the brine, naturally occurring microorganisms consume sugars from the cabbage and produce the lactic acid that gives sauerkrauts its distinctive sour bite. This lactic acid, along with the salt, then helps to preserves the cabbage from spoilage.

Ingredients makes 5 quarts

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  • We've come to prefer the texture of very thinly sliced sauerkraut, so we always use the mandoline to shred the cabbage, but the flavor is the same no matter how you cut the cabbage.
  • A finer shred also makes it much easier for the salt to extract the water from the cabbage, producing much more brine much faster. When we first made sauerkraut, we were always baffled that we almost always had to add some brine to cover the cabbage, but the first time we made a batch with the fine shreds from the mandoline, it made so much brine it was completely covered right away.
  • It is possible to add salt by taste, but it's harder to get consistent results and since we have the scale on hand to make the brines for pickles, we always use the scale when preparing sauerkraut. When salting by taste, aim for the saltiness of well seasoned french fries.

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