How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut

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Sauerkraut, like other fermented foods, is great for gut health. And so, recently I decided to try and make my own at home. What fun! I thoroughly enjoyed the experimental process and found eating it freshly homemade so rewarding compared to store-bought. Sauerkraut is easy to make, highly nutritious, and can be enjoyed in many different ways, making it a great recipe to keep in your toolbox. I hope this post inspires you to give homemade sauerkraut a try too!


Homemade sauerkraut for gut health
Why gut health is important
Microorganisms in the gut
Gut imbalance
Support gut health with food

Tips to make homemade sauerkraut just right
[RECIPE] Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe


Homemade sauerkraut for gut health

Before reading on, if you are very interested in gut health, check out this recent article: A Beginner’s Guide to Gut Health.

Why gut health is important

The main reason that led me to Sauerkraut, was my interest in supporting my gut health.

One of the main functions of the gut is digestion, of course. Our gut is essentially responsible for controlling what our bodies absorb, metabolize and use, as well as what we get rid of. In doing this, it plays an instrumental part in our health.

The gut is essentially the doorway between the outside world and our inner bodies.

However, the state of your gut has a huge impact on your overall health far beyond digestion.

Just to give you an idea:

Most of the body’s serotonin (the ‘feel good’ hormone) is made in the gut. That is why gut health can have a big effect on how you feel, playing a role in anxiety and depression.

Also, about 70% of the immune system is in the gut. That’s why the gut plays a vital role in your immune strength and ability to stay healthy and not succumb to diseases.

And so, the state of your gut has far-reaching effects on your health, and it’s important to support its wellbeing.

That is why many health experts say, your gut is your pathway to health or to disease.

Microorganisms in the gut

Inside the gut, we all have our own mix of billions of microorganisms, mostly bacteria. Some can be ‘bad’ bacteria, while others are ‘good’ bacteria.

The ‘good’ bacteria are so important for our bodies, for many reasons, far beyond maintaining healthy digestion. They play a pivotal role in running digestion and metabolism, enhancing nutrient absorption, getting rid of toxins, regulating the immune system and fighting infections, preventing inflammation, regulating our moods, and so much more.

Gut imbalance

When our gut is out of balance and we have an overpopulation of unhealthy bacteria, our immune system is compromised. When there is this imbalance of good and bad bacteria, with more bad, this is called dysbiosis.

Many people suffer from gut imbalance, resulting in symptoms like gas, bloating, and stomach cramps. Just to name a few.

When our gut is imbalanced, it’s often because we’re low on good bacteria and the bad bacteria have multiplied. With more of the bad bacteria in our gut, they start causing havoc such as destroying our gut wall leading to inflammation.

Support gut health with food

A great way to restore and maintain balance in the gut is to add friendly bacteria to your gut through Probiotic-rich foods, like Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).

Probiotics are basically ‘good’ bacteria. By ingesting foods that contain probiotics, you help populate your gut with the ‘good’ bacteria who can get to work in your gut in many different ways. Foods that contain these probiotics include fermented and cultured foods like sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, and kimchi.

If you’re interested in learning more about what foods to eat to support your gut health, check out this article: Nutritious Foods for Gut Health.

This may sound a little weird, but you’re basically eating living food, rich in friendly bacteria. And, by eating them, you add more of these good bacteria to your gut, who can help restore or maintain gut balance.

As the inspiring Liz Lipski says,

Try to eat live foods every day

Regardless of whether your gut is out of balance or not, it’s a good idea to support it with probiotic-rich foods. By keeping your gut healthy, you’re supporting your overall health in many ways far beyond digestion. You’re also supporting your immune system, the production of serotonin (your ‘feel good hormone’) and so much more.

As Darwinian Medicine says, It All Starts with The Gut.

And so… my love affair with Sauerkraut was born.


Tips to make homemade sauerkraut just right

Keep it fun and experimental. You’ll notice in the recipe instructions, that the measurements of things are flexible. Sizes of cabbages and how they react can vary. Jar sizes can vary. The amount of salt you add can vary. How long you ferment your cabbage can vary. So, as you see, it’s a personal experimental recipe. Have fun with it, and after a couple of batches, you’ll realise that it’s super easy to make and you’ll start developing your own perfect mix.

Buy a lovely fresh whole cabbage. If you can, buy your cabbage at a local farmer’s market. Otherwise, when buying at the supermarket, make sure it looks fresh and firm.

Use quality sea salt. There are only two ingredients in this recipe, so make them count. Use a lovely quality sea salt instead of regular fine table salt.

Keep everything clean. The process of fermenting is basically creating an environment for good bacteria to grow. The food is alive, and we want to give it a nice clean environment to thrive in. So, keep everything clean. Rinse the outside of your cabbage well before chopping it. Use a clean chopping board and knife. Sterilise your glass jars with hot water before adding the cabbage to it.

Cut the cabbage VERY fine. This is important. The thinner you cut it, the more the cell walls are broken down, and the better it’ll ferment. The first time I made sauerkraut, I didn’t cut it thin enough, and my cabbage didn’t really ferment properly. Now I cut it as thin as humanly possible! If you have a shredder, even better!

Take the time to really break down the cabbage in the bowl. The first time I made sauerkraut, I didn’t break it down enough either. Make sure you spend time massaging it, breaking it down with your hands. You do get specific tools for this, but I just used my hands and towards the end, I sometimes even use a potato masher to press down hard on the cabbage 🙂 The point here is to break down the cabbage strips so that the cell walls break and release water. This water mixes with the salt you added and forms the brine. So, the better the cabbage is broken down, the more natural brine will form.

When it’s fermenting, make sure the cabbage is submerged in the brine. Once you’ve added the salt and broken down the cabbage properly, add the mix to your jar and push the mix down with a smaller jar. By compressing the cabbage down, you get rid of air bubbles which interfere with the fermenting process. You will also get a better idea of how much brine liquid you have.

The brine will likely still be forming, so let your cabbage sit in a cupboard (without a lid, but with a cheese-cloth or paper towel over the top held in place with an elastic). If, after a day, there is still not enough brine so that the cabbage is submerged in it, you can either add a little more brine (salt and water) or just water. Taste the brine in your cabbage jar first, and if the liquid tastes quite salty (to your preference), just add a little bit of filtered water to the jar until the cabbage is submerged. If you feel you need more brine, mix half a cup of water with a sprinkle of sea salt, and add this liquid to the jar.

Only refrigerate when it tastes right to you. After adding the cabbage to the jar, you’ll let it sit and ferment in a cool dark place, like a cupboard, for a while until you refrigerate it, When you refrigerate it, you basically slow down the fermentation process. So, keep your sauerkraut in the jar for a few days, and check on it daily. Make sure the water is covering the cabbage, pushing it down firmly with the smaller glass jar. Then, start tasting it after about 5-7 days. As it ferments more over the days and weeks, you can decide for yourself when it tastes the way you want it. When it does, take the cloth off the top, close the lid, and refrigerate. I only refrigerate my sauerkraut after about 6 weeks.

If any of this sounds confusing, feel free to email me! 🙂


[RECIPE] Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe

If you make this recipe, share your creation with me 🙂
Share in the comments below or take a photo and tag @livethewonderful.life on Instagram.

DifficultyBeginner

 0.50 Big White Cabbage
 2 tsp Sea Salt
Other items you need:
 1 Big glass mason jar (wth a lid)
 1 Smaller glass mason jar (must fit inside the big jar, to use to press down the cabbage at the top)
 1 Big pot to boil water in and sterilise the jars before use
 1 Clean breadboard
 1 Sharp knife
 1 Big bowl
 1 Cheesecloth or thick paper towel
 1 Elastic band (to hold the paper towel in place)

1

Prepare your space and tools - When fermenting, make sure the area where you're preparing your cabbage is nice and clean. Sterilise your glass mason jars by simply boiling them carefully in hot water in a big pot on the stove - you don’t need to do this for long. After a few minutes, take them out carefully and let them cool.

2

Slice up your cabbage - Remove old outer leaves, and give it a rinse. If you have a big cabbage (like I do), cut it in half and keep the other half for other meals. Now, cut the core out and slice up your cabbage VERY finely. The first time I made sauerkraut I cut it far too thick and that made it more difficult to ferment. If you have a shredder, use that. If not, just slice it super thin. The thinner the cabbage is sliced/shredded the better.

Note: There is no specific measurement for the amount of cabbage or the size of jars. You just need to see what jars you can get, big or smaller, and how much cabbage fits. If it's your first time, I recommend just doing half the cabbage and seeing how it goes. My cabbage weighed about 1kg, and I used half of it. Have fun and just go with it!

3

Add salt and start breaking down your cabbage - Once all your cabbage is chopped finely, add it to a big bowl and add salt. The ratio of salt should be about 1.5%-2% of the weight of the cabbage OR 1.5 - 2tsp per 500g cabbage. I used 2 small teaspoons for my 500g of cabbage.

Note: There is no perfect amount of salt to add. Use the above as a guide. Start by adding a small amount of salt at a time, and then taste.

4

Massage massage massage - With your hands, mix the cabbage with the salt. Spend some time massaging it in - Really go for it and crunch the cabbage with your hands. The more you crush it, the more the cell walls break and release water that mixes with the salt and forms a brine. This is such an important step, so take the time to really give that cabbage the massage of its life. You'll notice the cabbage getting wetter and wetter.

5

Pack the cabbage into the jar - Pack the cabbage tightly into the mason jar, pushing it down as you pack. This will force any air pockets out and help the brine liquid rise and cover the surface to submerge the cabbage. Don't completely fill the jar - leave a little bit of space at the top, so that you can place the clean smaller glass jar on top and use it to press down on the cabbage to keep it submerged *See image

6

Prepare to store - With your cabbage in the jar, and the smaller jar pressed down on top, cover the top with cheesecloth or thick paper towel. Hold in place with an elastic band. Store in a cool dark cupboard.

7

Check your brine - It's important that the cabbage is submerged in brine liquid. Check on your jar 24 hours later. Push down on the smaller jar to force the liquid to rise up. If the cabbage is still not submerged in liquid, add a little filtered water or additional brine (salt and water) to the jar until it's fully submerged. Then place back in the cupboard.

8

Let your cabbage ferment - Leave your cabbage to ferment now. Check on it daily or every few days, and have a taste every week to see how it's transforming. Mine takes about 5-6 weeks until it tastes just right. You can start eating it much sooner, but I like to let it ferment for longer.

9

Refrigerate when it's ready - When you're happy with your sauerkraut, you can remove the cheesecloth/paper towel and close it with a lid, and store it in the fridge. In the fridge the fermentation slows down, so you can keep it just the way you like it. Enjoy!

Ingredients

 0.50 Big White Cabbage
 2 tsp Sea Salt
Other items you need:
 1 Big glass mason jar (wth a lid)
 1 Smaller glass mason jar (must fit inside the big jar, to use to press down the cabbage at the top)
 1 Big pot to boil water in and sterilise the jars before use
 1 Clean breadboard
 1 Sharp knife
 1 Big bowl
 1 Cheesecloth or thick paper towel
 1 Elastic band (to hold the paper towel in place)

Directions

1

Prepare your space and tools - When fermenting, make sure the area where you're preparing your cabbage is nice and clean. Sterilise your glass mason jars by simply boiling them carefully in hot water in a big pot on the stove - you don’t need to do this for long. After a few minutes, take them out carefully and let them cool.

2

Slice up your cabbage - Remove old outer leaves, and give it a rinse. If you have a big cabbage (like I do), cut it in half and keep the other half for other meals. Now, cut the core out and slice up your cabbage VERY finely. The first time I made sauerkraut I cut it far too thick and that made it more difficult to ferment. If you have a shredder, use that. If not, just slice it super thin. The thinner the cabbage is sliced/shredded the better.

Note: There is no specific measurement for the amount of cabbage or the size of jars. You just need to see what jars you can get, big or smaller, and how much cabbage fits. If it's your first time, I recommend just doing half the cabbage and seeing how it goes. My cabbage weighed about 1kg, and I used half of it. Have fun and just go with it!

3

Add salt and start breaking down your cabbage - Once all your cabbage is chopped finely, add it to a big bowl and add salt. The ratio of salt should be about 1.5%-2% of the weight of the cabbage OR 1.5 - 2tsp per 500g cabbage. I used 2 small teaspoons for my 500g of cabbage.

Note: There is no perfect amount of salt to add. Use the above as a guide. Start by adding a small amount of salt at a time, and then taste.

4

Massage massage massage - With your hands, mix the cabbage with the salt. Spend some time massaging it in - Really go for it and crunch the cabbage with your hands. The more you crush it, the more the cell walls break and release water that mixes with the salt and forms a brine. This is such an important step, so take the time to really give that cabbage the massage of its life. You'll notice the cabbage getting wetter and wetter.

5

Pack the cabbage into the jar - Pack the cabbage tightly into the mason jar, pushing it down as you pack. This will force any air pockets out and help the brine liquid rise and cover the surface to submerge the cabbage. Don't completely fill the jar - leave a little bit of space at the top, so that you can place the clean smaller glass jar on top and use it to press down on the cabbage to keep it submerged *See image

6

Prepare to store - With your cabbage in the jar, and the smaller jar pressed down on top, cover the top with cheesecloth or thick paper towel. Hold in place with an elastic band. Store in a cool dark cupboard.

7

Check your brine - It's important that the cabbage is submerged in brine liquid. Check on your jar 24 hours later. Push down on the smaller jar to force the liquid to rise up. If the cabbage is still not submerged in liquid, add a little filtered water or additional brine (salt and water) to the jar until it's fully submerged. Then place back in the cupboard.

8

Let your cabbage ferment - Leave your cabbage to ferment now. Check on it daily or every few days, and have a taste every week to see how it's transforming. Mine takes about 5-6 weeks until it tastes just right. You can start eating it much sooner, but I like to let it ferment for longer.

9

Refrigerate when it's ready - When you're happy with your sauerkraut, you can remove the cheesecloth/paper towel and close it with a lid, and store it in the fridge. In the fridge the fermentation slows down, so you can keep it just the way you like it. Enjoy!

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe
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