My first experience with sauerkraut was when I was working at a sandwich shop in college. The rule was if you showed up late you had to make the “sauerkraut.” It was kind of awful because the sauerkraut was pre-made and came in a giant can, and once you got past the smell, you had to mix it with mayonnaise. Needless to say, it was one of my least favorite tasks and a major motivator to get to work on time.
This sauerkraut, however, is nothing like that. It’s homemade from scratch with simple ingredients to help promote a healthy gut (and there’s no mayonnaise in sight). Plus, it’s super easy to master the technique and requires just 7 simple ingredients. Shall we?
What is Sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is a fermented food made from cabbage. It has been consumed for thousands of years for its probiotic benefits and is rich in vitamins C, B, A, K, and a variety of minerals.
It has a tangy flavor, crunchy texture, and is simple and cost-effective to make at home!
Origins of Sauerkraut
You may have heard that sauerkraut was a German invention, but that’s not necessarily true! Who knew!?
Instead, sauerkraut is thought to have originated in northern China. It made its way to Europe about 1000 years later and was eaten by Dutch seafarers as a way to prevent scurvy, due to sauerkraut’s vitamin C content. (source)
How to Make Sauerkraut
The simplest form of sauerkraut is just cabbage and salt, which is where we start in this recipe.
Once the salt is added, simply massage with clean hands for 10 minutes or until the cabbage has reduced quite a bit in size and released quite a bit of liquid at the base of the bowl. See the progression in the next two photos.
We’re looking good! Now, let’s add some color and flavor.
I went with shredded carrots and beets, which provide a vibrant orange-magenta hue. Next come fresh minced garlic and fresh grated ginger and turmeric for big flavor. The result is a perfectly salted fresh vegetable sauerkraut infused with zesty garlic and ginger and earthy turmeric. Swoon!
Mix again to incorporate and you’ve practically made sauerkraut!
All that’s left to do is pack into sterilized jars and ensure the liquid extracted from all that massaging rises up and covers the kraut for optimum fermentation. Then leave it alone to do its thing. Set it on the counter out of direct sunlight or in a cabinet for 1-14 days (or longer) to let it naturally ferment.
We hope you LOVE this kraut! It’s:
Filled with probiotics
& So delicious
This would make the perfect topper for sandwiches, salads, wraps, bowls, and more! Our favorite way to enjoy sauerkraut is with dishes like Kitchari or Garlicky Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas. But it’s even tasty right out of the jar (just don’t double dip to avoid contamination).
More Probiotic-Rich Recipes
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
How to Make Sauerkraut
- 8 cups red or green cabbage (finely grated or chopped)
- 1 1/2 – 2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 small beet (finely shredded)
- 3 whole carrots (finely shredded)
- 3 Tbsp fresh ginger (shredded / grated)
- 3 Tbsp fresh turmeric (shredded / grated)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely minced)
- Sterilize any equipment you will be using for fermentation, especially the jars (we prefer using mason jars or these Weck Jars that are about 850 ml). It is extremely important that everything is sterilized to allow for proper fermentation. Do so easily by pouring boiling water over clean jars and lids and drying completely. Let come back to room temperature before adding ingredients.
- Add finely grated cabbage (we used our mandolin) to a large mixing bowl and top with 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (or the lower end of the suggested range if making a different batch size). Wash hands thoroughly and massage cabbage for ten minutes. The cabbage should start softening, shrinking in size, and releasing water (see photo). Continue massaging until this happens.
- Add shredded beet, carrot, ginger, turmeric, and garlic and massage once more with clean hands for 4-5 minutes until thoroughly combined (see photo). Then taste test and adjust flavor, adding more salt for saltiness, grated ginger for more zing, or garlic for more intense garlic flavor.
- Use your clean hands to put the sauerkraut mixture into your sterilized jars and press down firmly to pack. There should be enough liquid from the massaging to rise up and cover the vegetables. If this doesn’t happen, top with filtered water until covered (it is unlikely that you will need to add water).
- Also, make sure there is plenty of room (about 1 1/2 inches) between the contents and the lid so it has room to expand. Seal with a lid and set on the counter where there’s not much direct sun exposure or in a cabinet. The ideal temperature for fermentation is above 65 degrees F (18 C), so try to keep your environment on the warmer side to encourage proper fermentation.
- Fermentation can happen as quickly as 24 hours if your space is hot, or it can take as long as 2 weeks, (again, depending on the environment). We found our sweet spot to be about 10 days.
- During this fermentation process, open your jars once per day to release air (you should feel pressure release and see air bubbles when you open the jars). Press down with a sterilized object such as a spoon or the bottom of a drinking glass to ensure that the vegetables are still completely covered in the liquid. Doing so helps encourage proper fermentation.
- The longer it sits and ferments, the tangier it will become, so sample occasionally with a clean utensil to test and see if it is at the right stage for you. Once it has reached the desired tanginess, cover securely and transfer to the fridge, where it should keep at least 3 months and up to 6 months. When serving, don’t double dip to avoid contamination.
*Recipe as written makes enough to fill approximately 1 1/2 (850 ml) jars of sauerkraut.
*Prep time reflects time it takes to make recipe and let it ferment for 24 hours. However, fermenting up to 2 weeks may be necessary.
*Recipe and method inspired by lovely and talented Nina Montagne of Cam and Nina.