My first experience with sauerkraut was after reading the book on Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD. I made it as a way to boost my gut health, and just loved how simple the process was, PLUS, fell in love with the delicious salty taste of homemade sauerkraut.
Now, if you’ve ever had sauerkraut from a tin, it definitely doesn’t do it justice. There’s just nothing like the fresh, crisp, homemade version… you can’t beat it. Plus, it’s loaded with way more probiotic goodness than the pre-made tinned varieties, as they often lose a lot of their cultures due to deterioration over time, so you often don’t receive the full benefits of the probiotics contained within them.
This homemade super simple sauerkraut recipe you’ll be making from scratch will have you hooked from the get-go. Containing simple ingredients to help promote a healthy gut microbiome ❤ Shall we get started then?
What is sauerkraut?
Sauerkraut is a fermented white and/or red cabbage, commonly consumed in Germany, Russia and Eastern Europe. It’s a wonderful healing remedy for the digestive tract, full of digestive enzymes, probiotic bacteria, vitamins and minerals. Eating it with meats may help improve digestion as it has a strong ability to stimulate stomach acid production.
It’s recommended by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to have a few tablespoons of sauerkraut (or juice from it) 10-15 minutes before meals for those with low stomach acidity. For children, she recommends to initially start them on 1-3 tablespoons of the juice from the sauerkraut in their meals.
Note: you do not need to add any starter to the sauerkraut, as fresh cabbage has natural bacteria living on it, which will do the fermentation for you.
How to make sauerkraut
The simplest way you can make sauerkraut is just to combine cabbage and salt together, which is how we begin this recipe (see below).
Once the salt is added, all you do is massage – with clean hands – the cabbage and salt together for 10 minutes or until the cabbage has reduced significantly in size and has released quite a bit of liquid at the base of the bowl (you’ll notice this as you massage the cabbage).
Salt is essential in this recipe as it draws the juice from the cabbage during kneading. What’s more, it helps to stifle the putrefactive microbes in the initial stages of fermentation until the fermenting bacteria produce enough lactic acid to kill the pathogens.
I also like to add shredded carrot to the mix, and sometimes splurge and add in beetroot, ginger, turmeric and garlic too! It honestly takes it to the NEXT LEVEL.
Then from there, mix/massage again to incorporate and you’ve just about got yourself some sauerkraut!
All that’s left is to pack it into some sterilised jars, ensuring the liquid you extracted from all that massaging of the cabbage, rises up and covers the sauerkraut completely (you want it submerged, otherwise any kraut left exposed to the air will rot) for fermentation. If you find there just isn’t enough liquid to completely cover your kraut, add some filtered water in until it’s fully submerged. Make sure to leave about a 2-3cm gap of space at top of the jar, as the cabbage will expand during fermentation. Cap with a lid, then let it sit on the counter out of direct sunlight or in a cabinet for 7-14 days (or longer) to let it naturally ferment. Make sure to unscrew the lid and let the fermentation gases out daily.
More probiotic-rich recipes
- Sunflower seed yoghurt
- Coconut yoghurt
- Coconut milk kefir
- Kombucha recipe
- Apple cider vinegar (with the ‘Mother’)
Before we get started in learning how to make this probiotic sauerkraut – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my email newsletter at the bottom of the page to keep up to date on the latest recipes, DIYs, gardening and health tips I share!!
If you make this sauerkraut recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below, and if you take a picture and share it, please tag me on Instagram @simplynaturalnessa or use the hashtag #simplynaturalnessa so I can see! I’d love to know how it went for you!
- 1 medium-size white (or red) cabbage, finely grated or chopped
- 2 organic carrots, shredded
- 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp sea salt
- Optional: 1 small beetroot, finely shredded
- Optional: 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- Optional: 3 tbsp fresh turmeric, shredded
- Optional: 3 tbsp fresh ginger, shredded
- Sterilise any equipment you’ll be using for fermenting the sauerkraut (i.e. jars, lids, spoons, etc.). I like to use wide-mouth mason jars, as they’re perfect in size & shape. It’s extremely important that everything’s sterilised to allow for proper fermentation, and prevent contamination from occurring. To sterilise, simply pour boiling hot water over equipment, and dry completely (be careful not to burn yourself). Make sure to let them come back to room temperature before adding ingredients – this will prevent the jars from cracking due to extreme changes in temperature.
- Add finely grated cabbage to a large mixing bowl and top with 1 1/2-2 tablespoons sea salt. Make sure to wash hands thoroughly beforehand, then massage cabbage until you extract as much juice as possible from the cabbage (10 minutes or more). The cabbage should start to soften, as well as shrink in size as it releases water.
- If using, add shredded beetroot, carrots, ginger, turmeric, and garlic and massage once more (with clean hands) for 4-5 more minutes or until well combined.
- Use your clean spoon to pour the sauerkraut mixture into your sterilised jars and ensure you press down firmly to pack it in (you don’t want any air pockets in the mixture). There should be enough liquid leftover from massaging the cabbage to cover the veggies, however, if you find there is not, pour some filtered water over the veggies until completely covered.
- Make sure to leave about 2-3 cm (about 1 1/2 inches) of space at the top as the cabbage will expand during fermentation. Seal with a lid and set on the counter where it’s out of direct sunlight or in a cabinet. The ideal temperature for fermentation is above 18°C (65°F). It will take around 5-7 days in a warmer environment, but approx. 2 weeks in cooler climates.
- Open your jars minimum once per day to release air (you should hear the air escape as the pressure releases, and see air bubbles when you open the jars). Press down on the kraut again with a sterilised spoon to ensure the veggies are completely covered in the liquid.
- The longer your sauerkraut ferments, the tangier it will become, so sample your kraut occasionally with a clean spoon to test and see if it’s reached the right flavour for you. Once finished, cover securely and store in the fridge. It should keep for at least 3-6 months. When serving, avoid double-dipping to prevent contamination.
Sauerkraut recipe tutorial
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. It’s important to check with a doctor before taking this or any new product, especially if taking any other medicine or supplement or if pregnant or nursing.
Have you made sauerkraut, or other fermented veggie recipe before? How did it go? Share below! We’d love hear!
Lots of love,
Campbell-McBride, Dr. Natasha, MD, MMedSci(neurology), MMedSci(nutrition). GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome. September 2004. Cambridge, United Kingdom. Medinform Publishing. pg. 196.
Minimalist Baker. How to Make Sauerkraut. Retrieved from https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-sauerkraut/