Homemade Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut starts with a head of cabbage and walks you through the fermentation process to ready to eat kraut.
Homemade Sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut

By  Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

Homemade sauerkraut is my recipe of the day, which  is all about making  sauerkraut at home from scratch starting with green cabbage.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Using a Fermenter  to  Make Homemade  Sauerkraut

I use a Kilner  fermentation  jar to make my kraut. I do  so because I like the airlock  which helps things go  smoothly.

There is  a link  to the box kit which includes all the things you  need, including ceramic weights  to keep your cabbage submerged.

The airlock is a nifty contraption. You can see it sticking  out of the jar like a spike. What it  does is  allow air bubbles that the yeast create during the fermentation process escape  the jar  (so it doesn’t  blow up) without letting crap into  the  jar.

The  air goes up  the  little tube, bubbles out through the water  and escapes. The traffic is one way as  dirt and  spores will not make it through  the water.

The  ceramic  weights keep  cabbage under the water so they are  not exposed to air  and spoilage.

Click here to view product

Kilner Fermentation Jar

Fermenting Sauerkraut

Troubleshooting Homemade Sauerkraut

If  there are “things” in your kraut,  don’t panic.

First,  determine what the “thing”  is. In the  picture  below is white stuff  called  kahm yeast. This may or  may not  occur depending on conditions. It is white and  slimy and  you just spoon  it  off.

It  can grow when  the  air is  warmer or if the salt solution is  not  overly salty. I got  kahm this time because I  fermented in  July. And  even though I placed my jar in the cool  basement, it would have  liked  more cool.

This can be  avoided  by increasing  the salt. But. It’s not an  issue provided your brine smells fine (like  cabbage/kraut). If your  brine  smell vile  (like hair perm or  something really nasty)  I’d ditch it  and  start  over.

Mold in Homemade Sauerkraut

You shouldn’t  have an  issue with  mold if you properly  use  the  airlock with water  in  the cup halfway.

I have read that mold isn’t an issue,  to just remove mold  and any vegetables with mold on  it. However,  I am skittish about mold. It can affect the flavor.  Cabbage  is  cheap so I will ditch a moldy batch.

I know it’s  a disappointment. Early on, I had to  ditch the very first batch of  kraut I ever  made years ago. That time, I did it in a beautiful  antique crock. It was very clean. I’m not sure what  went afoul there but it was  foul, so I pitched it.

Mold is  different from kahm yeast. Yeast  is  one  thing- the beauty of bread, all that good stuff.  Mold is  just disgusting.

Fermenting  in a Crock

Many people  like  doing their  kraut in a crock. Just remember to keep the cabbage  weighed down below the waterline. And don’t let the brine  get dirty.

And don’t stir the cabbage. Leave it alone.

You can  also consider brewers buckets. Those are food grade plastic and can be fitted  with  an airlock. Don’t use buckets that are not  food grade. You can get them at brewer’s supply and winemaking  shops.

How Cabbage  Ferments

Yeast causes cabbage to ferment. Yeasties eat natural sugars and  then *burp*.  Same thing  happens  when people  eat beans.

Over the course of a month the yeast will work  on the ferment, and you can  see their little  bubbles rise. Ferment is done when the bubbles stop. At that point the sauerkraut gets refrigerated or canned. The longer you wait, the better the kraut gets.

To Refrigerate or Can

Sauerkraut can be water  bath canned or refrigerated. The texture is more crisp  with  refrigeration,  but if you are putting  up a lot  of kraut you obviously won’t have space in the fridge for all that.

This recipe will  fill a half gallon jar so I keep that in the  fridge, and start a new batch about a month out  from  when I need it. That can seem like  a long time,  but if you plan ahead it’s easy.

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Homemade Sauerkraut

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Homemade Sauerkraut

Prep Time20 minutes
Fermentation28 days
Course: Pantry Staples
Keyword: canning and preserving
Servings: 1 half-gallon
Author: Sue Lau


  • Kilner fermentation jar with accessories


  • 5 pounds fresh green cabbage
  • 3 heaping tablespoons pickling salt



  • Remove outer leaves from cabbage, core, and shred thin; rinse cabbage with cold water and drain.
  • Place drained cabbage in a large mixing bowl and toss with the salt.
  • Muddle with a wooden meat tenderizer or mallet to release as much liquid as possible.
  • Pack cabbage tightly into a clean fermentation jar leaving 2-1/2 inches of headspace.
  • You should have enough liquid from the muddling to cover the cabbage. If not, top up with some extra brine (2 tablespoons pickling salt to one quart distilled water).
  • Place ceramic weights or a plate on top of the cabbage to keep it totally submerged.
  • Clean the rim of the jar from any cabbage bits sticking to it.
  • Top the jar with the lid and insert the air lock and bung. Fill the air lock halfway with water to seal the airlock from air.


  • Place the fermenter at room temperature between 70F-75F. Do not stir contents during fermentation. Skim off any yeast that occurs. There should not be any mold, but if it occurs, skim it out.
  • At 70-75F, fermentation should complete in 3-4 weeks. At 60-65F it can take up to six weeks. At temps below 60F, fermentation may not occur. At temps above 75F cabbage will become very soft (not desired).
  • During fermentation you will see air bubbles coming up and escaping through the airlock. This is expected, desired and fine. When the bubbles stop, fermentation is complete.
  • At the point, you can either refrigerate or water bath can the kraut. Fridge kraut will be more crisp.

Canning Tips

  • To water bath can kraut, bring the kraut and brine to a full boil.
  • Pack hot kraut into sterile canning jars leaving half inch headspace. Tap out bubbles and top with brine if needed.
  • Secure with sterile lids and bands.

Process times:

  • 0-1000 feet: 10 min. for pints, 15 min, for quarts
  • 1001-6000 feet: 15 min/pints, 20 min/quarts
  • above 6000 feet: 20 min./pints, 25 min./quarts
  • Refrigerating any jars that the lids do not seal properly.
  • For any additional canning instruction, please refer to a USDA canning guide or Ball Blue Book.


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Homemade Sauerkraut

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Homemade Sauerkraut

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6 responses

  1. I have a different but similar system that I use for fermenting. It makes life much easier, in my opionion. The one time I tried using a crock it was not a pretty sight. LOL. I admire that you keep a container in your refrigerator at all times.

  2. What a delicious sauerkraut. I love sauerkraut but never attempted to make at home. Your recipe is now pushing me to try. This is a great recipe with essential info.

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