How to Make Sauerkraut {And Eat It, Too!} Part 1

This post was a long time coming, ’cause I thought, “Who am I to tell YOU how to make sauerkraut? I have only a 30% success rate!” Ahh, but on the third try, I got it. Not only that, I’ve succeeded in cultivating a taste for the stuff! So I’m finally ready to take the lid of this, er, fragrant subject. You ready? Ok, let’s go!

As I mention in this post, fermented condiments like sauerkraut are just another way to add enzymes and aid digestion of a meal. Notice I said ‘condiment’–that’s key to actually consuming this stuff. It’s not a side dish, peoples, so don’t feel guilty if you can only stand a small spoonful mixed into your meal–that’s exactly how it’s done.

Another key to actually enjoying sauerkraut is variety. There’s actually lots of different kinds of sauerkraut, and each goes pairs better with certain dishes, kinda like different wines. Above, left to right, we have

  1. Kimchi (Korean Sauerkraut)
  2. Cortido (Latin American Sauerkraut)
  3. Traditional Sauekraut with purple cabbage
  4.  Gingered Carrots

Having all this variety really has been the secret to me finally making fermented condiments a regular part of my diet. If I had to eat the same sauerkraut ever day, people, I’d revolt. In this series I’m gonna share four of my favorite recipes for sauerkraut, and the various dishes I enjoy them with.

First, we’ll talk about method. It’s true, I had to try cabbage sauerkraut 3 times before I got a good batch, and I’m not really sure what I did wrong, so I’m not an expert. But I wanna just tell you–cabbage and labor are cheap. If you fail, try again. It’s not that hard.

The basic sauerkraut method goes like this:

  1. chop or grate the veggies finely (though not so finely as to create pulp),
  2. mix in some salt
  3. pound it till it’s bruised and juicy
  4. pack tightly into a jar
  5. pour a little whey over the top
  6. cap and leave on counter for a few days
  7. Refrigerate and enjoy

How will you know if it turns out? This is the part I’m an expert about! It’ll mold, turn pink, smell putrid, or all of the above. Trust me–you’ll know. Throw it out and try again. No big deal.

Gingered Carrots

This is the first fermented veggie I tried, and it actually turned out the first time. I also really liked the flavor–as soon as I figured out it was meant to be a condiment (not used en mass in a carrot pineapple salad! Ahhg!)

Nourishing Traditions says, “These are the best introduction to lacto-fermented vegetables we know: the taste is delicious: and the sweetness of the carrots neutralizes the acidity that some people find disagreeable when they are first introduced to lacto-fermented vegetables. Ginger carrots go well with rich foods and spicy meats.”

  • 4 c. grated carrots
  • 1 T. fresh grated ginger
  • 1 T. sea salt
  • 4 T. whey (if not available, use an additional 1 Tablespoon salt)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pound with a meat hammer or the bottom of a quart jar to release juices. Pack into a quart-sized, wide-mouthed mason jar and press down until juices cover carrots. The top of the carrots should be at least one inch below the top o the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 3 days before transferring to fridge.

I use Gingered carrots stirred into any stir fry, tossed into a salad with my favorite Maple Mustard Dressing (which is in the book), a few tablespoons stirred into Carrot-Raisin-Pinneapple Salad, and as a condiment when I make baked, stuffed chicken breasts. It adds lovely color to a plate, and really doesn’t taste like sauerkraut at all. :)

Remember to add fermented condiments after you’ve served the food onto the plate – cooking them destroys all the good reasons you’re eating them!

Next, the secret to authentic Mexican  flavor...Cordito!

Have you ever made any lacto fermented veggies? Tell me about it!

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  1. Linda says

    I read that you only let your fermenting sit for 3 days. Everything else I have read on the Internet says to get the healthy probiotics it produces, you have to let it sit on the countertop for weeks to months. I’m wondering if the whey is what is the difference? Please explain if you can. Thanks so much! Linda

    • says

      Linda, Great question!
      My method is certainly a shorter ferment time, but it’s simple, doesn’t take any special equipment, and still delivers plenty of nutrition and probiotics. I have to keep things simple for me to be able to keep things going around here! LOL If you’re interested in longer ferment method, this free course looks good…

  2. nicole says

    I’m just learning about making ‘kraut myself. So far I’ve made 1 successful batch. From what I’ve read, the method of capping and leaving the jar out may be the reason you’re not having a greater success rate (again, I’m no expert, but thought I’d pass this along in case it’s helpful). I’ve read in several places that you can get mold by capping the jar because if there’s any mold spore present, it will mix with the oxygen at the top of the jar and ruin the batch. Instead, if you place something on top of the vegetables that pushes them down so that the juice is the only thing in contact with the oxygen and leave it uncapped in a dark place, you will have a high success rate. Just thought I’d share!

  3. says

    I do make some fermented foods. I have made sauerkraut, but not in a long time. I have a head of cabbage in the refrigerator that I have been wanting to make sauerkaut with. I think I may do that today and try one of your varieties. I really like the book Nourishing Traditions and about 2 children ago I was making just about everything from scratch (real food).

  4. Amanda says

    You posted this at a PERFECT time! I just told my hubby (that doesn’t like my fermented dairy) that I’d make sauerkraut and fermented veggies for him – he’s stoked and i’m stoked. Your tutorials are great; After two years of reading how to make yogurt, your guest post on Passionate Homemaking was what gave me the desire to make it because of the bullet points – quick and easy. Now I’m off to try fermented veggies!

  5. says

    Hmmm…you MAY end up being what pushes me over the edge to FINALLY make me try fermenting veggies. Because yeah, I was one of those who thought I need to eat a bowl a day of the stuff and I could not handle that. So when you say that you stirred the carrots into stirfry, that was AFTER it was done cooking, right?

    • Trina says

      Yes, ma’am, I just toss a spoonful onto the food I’ve served onto my plate, and stir it in. Really does add to the flavors, without being overwhelming.

  6. says

    Okay. I’m going to try this… I’ve been putting it off. But I know it’ll be good for me. And I’ll probably like it in the end. *smiles* Off to grate some carrots…