How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut

Raw Vegan, Fermented, and Probiotic

  • 01 of 09

    Quick and Easy Homemade Raw Sauerkraut

    zeleno / Getty Images

    Making a homemade fermented raw vegan sauerkraut can be much quicker and easier than it may seem. Though you could allow it to sit and ferment for weeks, homemade sauerkraut is generally ready within 4 to 7 days. The longer it ferments–or cultures–the more healthy probiotic support it offers your digestive system. Cultured foods aid in digestion as well as provide friendly-bacterial support for your intestines. This is especially great in winter when we tend to eat less produce, and is beneficial for vegetariansvegans, and anyone following a raw vegan diet.

    There are numerous ways to make homemade sauerkraut, but this recipe keeps it at the bare minimum of ingredients to show how easy it can be.

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  • 02 of 09

    Gather Ingredients

    Cabbage at farmers market in Colorado
    Gary Conner / Getty Images

    First, you need to gather the very few things you'll need, including both green and purple cabbage–which results in a pinkish purple striped sauerkraut–as well as sea salt, a knife and cutting board, and 2 glass or ceramic bowls that fit inside one another (sterilized in boiling water or a dishwasher).

    This recipe calls for about half a head of each color cabbage (or one whole head of cabbage) and yields 1 quart of finished sauerkraut. The process is the same no matter how much cabbage you use.

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  • 03 of 09

    Thinly Slice the Cabbage

    Man grating cabbage
    Lucy Lambriex / Getty Images

    Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and reserve them to use later.

    You want to slice the cabbage as thinly as possible. Many people prefer to use a food processor, mandoline, or other slicing devices to achieve very thin, even slices. A good sharp knife does a fine job.

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  • 04 of 09

    Layer and Salt the Cabbage Slices

    Layered purple and green cabbage with added salt
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray

    As you chop the cabbage, start placing layers in your ceramic or glass bowl and sprinkle with the sea salt. The salt pulls the water from the cabbage which creates the brine that the sauerkraut will use to culture itself in. If you are using both colors of cabbage, you'll want to alternate green and purple layers. Sprinkle each layer generously with the salt; you will use about 2 tablespoons total.

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  • 05 of 09

    Press and Cover the Cabbage

    Shredded cabbage covered with whole cabbage leaves.
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray

    In order to get the culturing process started, you'll need to press the cabbage down into the bowl as much as possible. This draws the water out. Spend a couple minutes just pressing it down with your fingers. Then arrange the reserved whole leaves of cabbage over the top and make sure it is totally covered. If you need to, you can use some plastic wrap to cover it entirely.

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  • 06 of 09

    Weigh Down the Cabbage

    Melon in bowl pressing on cabbage in bowl
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray

    You need to put some weight on top of the cabbage in order to draw out the water and allow the fermenting process to happen. Use the second ceramic or glass bowl to sit on top of the cabbage leaves and add a weight to it such as a large vegetable, heavy can, or even a rock.

    Alternatively, you can weigh it down with a zip-lock bag full of salt water. Making the water in the bag salty prevents the project from spoiling if the bag should leak.

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  • 07 of 09

    Continue to Press Over the First 24 Hours

    Fingers pressing shredded cabbage under water.
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray

    Over the first 24 hours, check the sauerkraut 3 to 4 times and press it down to make sure that the water level rises to just above the cabbage. Otherwise, the experiment will go bad.

    If after 24 hours there isn't enough water to completely cover the cabbage, mix 1 teaspoon of sea salt with 1 cup of water and use only enough of this brine to fill in the water line to just above the level of the cabbage.

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  • 08 of 09

    Check Sauerkraut for Readiness

    Finished Raw Food Sauerkraut Recipe that is Ready to Refrigerate: Remove the top layer of the sauerkraut when it is finished.
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray

    Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, humidity of your climate, and many other mysterious factors, the sauerkraut will take anywhere from 3 days to a week or more to ferment and reach that tangy flavor.

    Check it once daily to see how it is coming along. You can allow it to continue fermenting even after it achieves that classic flavor, but the first few times you experiment, you may want to quit while you're ahead to avoid ruining the batch and discouraging yourself.

    Don't be thrown off by the aroma either! That funky, sulphuric smell means that fermentation is happening and you're moving in the right direction. You'll also notice a grayish mold will form over the very top. This is normal and quite harmless, but try to remove most of it before eating.

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  • 09 of 09

    Package the Sauerkraut

    Finished Packaged Homemade Raw Food Sauerkraut Recipe: Store your finished sauerkraut in a tightly sealed glass container.

    After removing the top moldy layer, you'll want to put the finished sauerkraut in the refrigerator. You can either cover the bowl that it is in or transfer it to another tightly sealed glass container. It will keep for months in the refrigerator. Enjoy your homemade sauerkraut as a side dish, on vegan sandwiches, in salads, or on its own as a snack.

    In future homemade sauerkraut endeavors, you can use a little of your homemade sauerkraut and stir it in with the fresh cabbage after sprinkling with the salt. This will act as a starter for the fermentation process and get things moving along more quickly.

    If you like making fermented foods at home, you might also want to try to make your own homemade Korean kimchi