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Every autumn, there are certain things I am compelled to do. Perhaps it’s the change in the weather that drives this compulsion; the urgency of the leaves turning and falling; the weakening sunlight.

I find myself taking silent inventory of pantry provisions: 4 jars pickled beets, 10 jars apple butter, 3 jars brandied figs… I freeze and can and preserve and dry almost compulsively. I realize I am not unlike a squirrel, its cheeks full before the waning season.

Apple butter is one of my yearly preserving pursuits. I typically make several batches of the stuff through some feat of nesting fever. I have a love-hate relationship with the process: hours of stirring and splattering and sticking, pounds upon pounds of apples reduced to a few small jars, and enough chopping and straining for three people.

But again, it’s an urge strong enough to make me not mind the inevitable burns I will get on my forearms while attempting to stir the lava lake of molten apple pulp. An urge strong enough to make me forget, every time, about how I will need to scour the stovetop and the floor afterwards.

This is the same urge I yield to when I make my annual batch of sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut might be in my blood. According to family legend, one of my great aunts would make sauerkraut beneath an old oak tree, only on the full moon. Sounds a bit like witchcraft, and if you’ve ever made sauerkraut before, you know that it feels a bit magical.

Sauerkraut is one of the easiest things to make in the pickle realm. Chop cabbage, add salt, wait. Okay, so there’s a teensy bit more to the process than that, but not by much.

Sauerkraut is the gateway fermented food. It’s straightforward and simple, the materials are inexpensive, and the payoff is fairly quick. It keeps well, and it’s far more delicious than anything you can buy. You may have seen gourmet sauerkraut at your local natural foods store. It often comes in an attractive jar, and it will cost upwards of six dollars.

The ingredients? Cabbage and salt. Maybe some caraway seeds. You can make a gallon at home for six dollars. So roll up your sleeves and embark upon a fermentation journey with me.

I first made sauerkraut because of Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation. As it happens, Sandor Katz referenced the Joy of Cooking when he first started to get into fermented foods. Small world.

According to both JOY and Katz, the proper ratio of cabbage to salt is 5 pounds to 3 tablespoons. Or, if you like to do things by weight, use 1.5% the weight of the cabbage in salt (Ex: weight of cabbage x 0.015 = weight of salt to add). Katz gives recipes for low-salt or salt-free sauerkrauts, but for our purposes, we’re going to start with the basic salted sauerkraut.

Salt not only helps preserve the cabbage, but it keeps the cabbage crunchy. You may use fine sea salt (really, you could use flaky sea salt if you wanted, but it's expensive and won't dissolve as readily), canning salt, or kosher salt. If using kosher salt and measuring in volume (i.e. tablespoons), you may need to use more (this is not the case if going by weight--just always use that 1.5% calculation mentioned above). If you use Diamond kosher, double the amount of salt (so, for 5 pounds cabbage, use 6 tablespoons). If using Morton's kosher, the amount of salt will be about the same by volume. The only salt I've been told to avoid is table salt (due to anti-caking agents and additives in this salt, which may turn your brine cloudy). However, I have in fact made delicious sauerkraut with iodized salt. Kraut is a very forgiving ferment--which salt you decide to use isn't as important as using enough of it--3 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) per 5 pounds vegetable matter. 

This is a very versatile recipe. You can use any variety of cabbages—green, red, savoy, napa, or a blend of different cabbages. Add apple, caraway or dill seeds, shredded carrots, turnips, beets, and so on. The only thing to keep in mind is the ratio of vegetables to salt: five pounds to three tablespoons, or 1.5% salt.

Sauerkraut FAQ:

  • My sauerkraut smells funny. Is it okay? That depends. Fermented foods go hand in hand with funky smells. Your sauerkraut may smell sulfuric (that's cabbage for you), fruity, cheesy, etc. Some people are more sensitive to these smells than others. Since I can't come to your house and smell and look at your sauerkraut, I can't tell you if it's okay or not, but usually there are other signs when something has gone wrong--do not eat sauerkraut that is slimy or that is covered in mold, especially black mold. 
  • My sauerkraut has some mold on it. Is it okay? Again, that depends. I check my sauerkraut every day. Since I usually ferment it in a mason jar, this is easy to do since I can just glance at it and confirm that everything is going as it should. However, I have found that crock fermentation is more likely to result in some mold. If the mold is in small patches and is white, I would just skim it off and proceed, keeping a close eye on it going forward and being proactive about removing mold. In the future, make sure the kraut is completely submerged beneath the brine at all times and, if possible, use an airlock and a fermentation weight. As always, if in doubt, throw it out.
  • My sauerkraut has a thin layer of white scum on top. Is it okay? Probably. A thin, white scum on the surface of a ferment is usually kahm yeast. If left long enough, kahm yeast can become crenulated--like the rind on a bloomy cheese. It looks kinda cool, to be honest! Just skim it off (we have used a paper towel to dab it off the surface of the brine) and keep an eye on it. It should not have any ill effects.
  • How long do I need to ferment my kraut? This is a matter of preference. Some people say that you need to ferment for weeks and weeks on end to get the maximum amount of probiotics. This is baloney. The types of bacteria change as your sauerkraut ferments. The bacteria initially doing most of the work are Leuconostoc bacteria. Then, when the pH lowers (becomes more acidic), Lactobacillus bacteria start to predominate. There are other key players in fermented foods, but my point is that the types of bacteria change, as well as their concentrations. There is no way to know, short of lab analysis, how many probiotics are in your ferment or what kinds are present. Nor is there any scientific proof that more probiotics are better, and there is certainly no way of knowing what an "optimum" amount of probiotics is. This is why I always, always, always go by taste. When I like the taste, I refrigerate my sauerkraut. 
  • Doesn't cooking kill the good bacteria in my ferment? So I should only eat it raw, right?  No. While cooking will kill the bacteria, keep in mind that sauerkraut has uses other than to be a probiotic supplement. It tastes good! Sauerkraut is delicious in soups, fritters, braises, etc. Don't let a worry over not getting probiotics stop you from cooking with kraut! Eat some raw, eat some cooked, and chill out. Take a probiotic supplement if you're worried about getting enough.
Makes about 1 quart

     5 pounds firm, unblemished cabbage heads, outer leaves removed
Remove the cores, and thinly slice or grate the cabbage on the large holes of a box grater. I like to dice the cores and add them to the kraut as well.
Place the cabbage in a large bowl with:
     3 tablespoons canning or pickling salt, sea salt, or Morton's kosher salt (if using Diamond kosher salt, use 6 tablespoons); or weigh out 1.5% the weight of the cabbage in salt of any kind
Massage the cabbage. You can do this with squeaky-clean hands or with another utensil, such as a spoon or even a potato masher. I like to use my hands because it enables me to better manipulate the cabbage and get it to release more water. However, do wash your hands thoroughly every time you work with a fermented product. As you massage, you’ll notice that the cabbage begins to release water and wilt. Continue to massage the cabbage for up to 30 minutes. This length of time is not mandatory by any means, and often you won't need to massage it this long. You're done when there is a decent amount of liquid in the bottom of the bowl and the cabbage is pliable and wilted.
Pack the kraut into a small stone crock or a half-gallon Mason jar. Press down firmly to submerge the cabbage beneath the brine.
Ideally, the cabbage has released enough water on its own to create a brine in which the cabbage remains fully submerged. However, some cabbages are drier than others. If your cabbage does not release enough water, make a brine of:
     1 ½ tablespoons canning or pickling salt, sea salt, or Morton's kosher salt per 4 cups distilled water (distilled water because tap water may contain chlorine, or, if you have hard water it may be basic rather than acidic or neutral, which can affect the final pH of the ferment)
Pour this brine over the cabbage to cover it. At this point, you need to weight the cabbage to keep it submerged. You can use a freezer-safe zip-top bag (freezer safe bags are more durable) filled partially with brine of the same strength as you used for the cabbage, above. The bag conforms to the shape of the container you use and is easy to manipulate. Or use specially made fermentation weights, a whole cabbage leaf, or the glass top from a small Weck jar.
Cover the crock or vessel to keep out flies, but make sure it can breathe. You may use a square of kitchen towel secured with a rubber band for this purpose, or buy specially made fermentation airlocks (they're great!).
Check the kraut every couple days. Within a few days, it should start to bubble—this is an indicator that fermentation has begun. Stir or compress the kraut regularly (the CO2 bubbles created during fermentation will often push the kraut above the brine if it's not heavily weighted). If scum forms on top, don’t worry. Simply scrape it off and discard it, then press the kraut beneath the brine again.
When the bubbling slows, fermentation is nearly complete. Personally, I prefer to go by flavor over any other indicators of doneness. Taste the kraut as it ferments. When you really like how it tastes, it's done. At this point, you may pack the kraut into a quart jar and refrigerate it (no need to do this if it's already in a jar) or store it in a cool place, like a root cellar or unheated basement. Refrigeration will not stop the fermentation process, but it will slow it down significantly.
Kraut keeps indefinitely. JOY gives a shelf-life of “several months,” but I have year-old kraut in the fridge that tastes wonderful. If your kraut goes bad (in this case, it would be slimy and have a strong, disagreeable smell), discard the kraut without tasting it, and wash and bleach your fermentation vessel. A word of encouragement--I've never made a bad batch of kraut.


meg's picture

We have an airlock like the one you mention, but I disagree about your "real" fermenters comment. You can ferment foods very successfully without an airlock. In fact, people have been fermenting without airlocks for thousands of years. I like airlocks. We have several that we use with a mason jar setup. But I wouldn't say that you can't be a fermenter without an airlock. Further, I like the massaging method because it allows the kraut to create its own brine. You don't need to worry so much about brine concentration because you're adding a set amount of salt to a set amount of cabbage every time. As water leaches out of the cabbage, a brine is born. There is no "right" brine strength. You can even make salt-free sauerkraut by using white wine as a brine. I don't like to go above 3 tbsp salt per 5 lbs cabbage for palatability reasons--much more and it's too salty. If you just want to use a brine without massaging, I would go with 2-3% salt.
Mark's picture

When I said "real" fermenters, I was referring the Polish and German fermenters that have been made the same way for hundreds of years. They all have a trough that the lid sits in and is filled with water so as to provide a seal. Once the lactobacillus gets started, I don't know if it really helps anything to introduce new bacteria and microbes, not to mention dust if you don't have some cheesecloth on your jar. I have tiny little orange fruit flies that can get into the beer keg airlock in the summer. They love the smell of homemade beer. As for massaging, I have made it both ways. If I skip the massage, I just make some brine and cover the shredded cabbage with it. I am a long time beer maker and cook of all sorts of things. I like repeatability. Leave your beer keg open and it will quickly spoil. I like to measure ingredients. That said, sometimes I will wing it but you have to taste, taste, taste to make sure your not ruining your recipe. Pikl-It has a salt calculator but they don't recommend 2% for anaerobic kraut. One thing about the internet, everybody has their own little secrets for making the same thing. If you're looking for the right recipe, you probably won't find it. As an example, I searched through probably 50 pork 'n bean recipes for the right one. I decided to narrow it down to about 8 core ingredients. I was left with about 30 different "secret ingredients" that I did not use. Once I am happy with the 8 ingredient pork 'n beans, I may add some other things, but not right now.
meg's picture

Hi Mark. Just saw your comment. I've been coveting one of those crocks with the little water moat on top. I currently have a great little ceramic crock with a lid, but no moat. I usually just take the lid off and secure a piece of flour sack towel over the top with a rubber band (mostly because the lid isn't perfectly snug, and I suspect flies could get in if they wanted to). I apologize if I misunderstood your first comment. There's quite a bit of (angry) debate about whether airlocks should be used or whether open-crock fermentation is the way to ferment. Personally, I think both methods are effective. Some think that airlocks and watertight crocks are the only way to go and that open-crock fermentation is best. I used to ferment with the open crock method exclusively (but always with a flour sack towel tied securely over the top--I don't know anyone who would advise you to simply leave the crock totally open to the elements), but recently have purchased some airlocks that fit on the top of Mason jars. I usually don't ferment more than 1/2 gallon of kraut at a time, so the half gallon jar is perfect for this project. It also takes up way less space in our tiny apartment!
Mark's picture

By definition, fermentation is an anaerobic process. I have no doubt people have some success with aerobic kraut but their results will likely not be as good. A 2% brine solution is only good for anaerobic fermentation of kraut. If you want to do aerobic, you will need a higher salt concentration and possibly risk an unpalatable product (if you add too much salt). At 2% AEROBIC you are actually hampering lactobacillus production. For normal room temp kraut fermentation, do a 2% brine, but do it in an ANAEROBIC air-locked fermenter! That's what fermentation is all about. If you're letting your kraut "breathe" you may be limiting the quality of your end product. By the way, a 2% brine is 76 grams of salt to 1 US gallon of water. If you don't have a food scale, it's definitely a must have for any chef who's worth his/her's salt. :)
meg's picture

I think we're in complete agreement, Mark. Even open-crock fermented kraut is largely undergoing anaerobic fermentation. The only exposure to air is at the surface of the brine. Everything under the brine (and everything should be completely submerged in brine) is undergoing anaerobic fermentation. The main concern with the open crock method is that sometimes mold or "scum" (yeasts) can form. I prevent this by stirring regularly, which is something I have to do anyways as the CO2 produced tends to push the kraut above the brine. I rarely have any mold growth at all. I think people usually run into mold growth because they don't check on their kraut often enough. Even when I do use my airlock setup, I end up opening the jar to press the kraut down, so I'm not sure how completely anaerobic the process actually is. As for the brine concentration, my recipe is based on the fact that you are adding 3 tbsp kosher salt (about 54g) per 5 lbs cabbage/vegetables and massaging the cabbage until it releases enough water to cover itself. I have never measured the amount of water released in this process, but it is certainly much less than 1 gallon. The brine I give instructions for in the recipe is only to be used in the event that you can't massage enough water out of the cabbage to submerge it. In that case, though, you've already added 3 tbsp salt to the cabbage and will be adding more in the small amount of brine you'll need to finish covering the cabbage. We use a scale often, but we like to provide US standard measurements because most people don't have scales yet. The one area of debate that most people get stuck on is that with the open crock method you are introducing some aerobic bacteria. However, this is not inherently a bad thing. It is largely understood that with the airlock method, you get much more anaerobic bacteria than aerobic. Many people assume that this is better for you, but there is no evidence to support that notion (the assumption is that since anaerobic bacteria are "good for you," then more anaerobic bacteria must be better--not necessarily true). I think it is possible that if you leave your kraut at room temp in an open crock situation for a long time, you can run into quality issues. We refrigerate ours as soon as it is sour enough for our tastes, never longer than 60 days. I hope this clears things up? Again, I think we mainly agree here. I've done a lot of research on fermentation and safety and have tried to base my recipe on that.
Kahiau's picture

I am fermenting in a gallon sized jar. I read about the plastic bag filled with wather to weigh the kraut down beneath brine. I had a tragic accident where the tap water in the plastic bag burst open the bag and went into my precious brine. I poured off part of thus excess water, added salt and put a bunch of already finished kraut on top to encourage the lactobacillus, then.covered the whole jar with a.lid and tucked it into a cabinet. Now just praying not all ruined. Please advise. Should i mix it daily? Should i keep the lid on it?
meg's picture

Yeah--that can happen. It happened to me once and then I figured out that filling the plastic bag with brine can prevent this from happening. It's really hard for me to say whether your kraut is good or not, since I can't see or smell it. But sauerkraut is usually pretty forgiving. If it's fermenting (producing bubbles, pushing the cabbage up in the jar, starting to smell sour), that's a good thing. I would definitely stir it, especially if the cabbage is getting pushed up above the brine by the CO2. If any mold starts to form, remove it immediately. It's not dangerous, but you don't want it to grow and take over--because it will take over eventually if you don't get rid of it. Basically, the kraut should smell like sauerkraut, not like rotten garbage. If it smells good, taste it. It should taste moderately salty and sour. Chances are, your kraut is probably fine. Just keep an eye out. Oh, and keep it covered with something--a lid or a piece of cloth secured with a rubber band.
Denise's picture

How does one exactly 'stir' a compacted jar of sauerkraut? Do you stir all the way to the bottom of the jar or are you just stirring the water layer on top?
meg's picture

Hi Denise, I guess "stir" is not the most accurate word. It's really just pressing the kraut down when the CO2 pushes it up in the brine.
jovita's picture

Hi! I made my first two jars of sauerkraut. It's been four weeks, they both have bubbles, but they taste like salty raw cabbage, no sourness. One jar smells like wine. Has it gone bad?7
john's picture

Hi Jovita. Sorry about the late response. Not sure what went wrong with your kraut, but if it's not tasting sour after 4 weeks and it's smelling yeasty, then something is definitely not right. Throw it out and try again, using the directions above.
Reenie Gardiner's picture

I think I made a mistake I made my sauerkraut with red cabbage and red beets also added caraway seeds pounding down in bowl with 1 tbsp of sea salt. Then I pounded into a 2 quart mason jar it was only about half full so I topped up with a prepared brine solution? At no point did I let it sit and make its own brine? I bought an airlock for it as well. Will it work? Or do I need to toss...
john's picture

Is it bubbling Reenie? Does it smell sour? If it looks free of surface mold, try tasting it. Vegetable ferments are pretty forgiving, and as long as there wasn't a boat-load of salt in the brine, everything should be fine.
Carla's picture

I tried making kraut using a turnip for the first time. I am using Mason jars. After about 16 days I removed the weights and put it in the fridge. Later that day I tried it and found that it was too salty, and a little too crunchy. Can I take it out of the fridge, return the weights and ferment the turnip another few weeks outside of the fridge?
john's picture

You can try that Carla, and it might help with the crunchy texture, but it will not take care of the salt. After the texture is where you want it, you might try leaching out the salt by putting the turnip in a bowl with plenty of tap water. Refrigerate for a day, drain, and see if it's any better.
Joe Egan's picture

Wondering if I'm still OK? Made a slight mistake on salt, weighed the cabbage and added 3 Tbs of salt per 5 pounds of cabbage for that weight but then not thinking removed the hearts before pounding and it seems a bit to salty and very slow to start ferment process. No scumb and just stirred second time at day ten the brine is just level with top of cabbage, think it would be good to add more brine and would like to cut the salt a bit as compared with what is in there. Smells and tastes very good at this point! What do you suggest?
john's picture

If it smells and tastes good, then I think you're still OK Joe!
Gary Gallion's picture

I processed about 10# f cabbage and followed directions on salting, and massaging. used a 5 gallon food grade container, used and stainless Steel cover, with weight enough to hold pressed cabbage down. Covered and checked it every few days. It has been about 4 weeks, and the cabbage has a smell that would be close to rotten cheese. The only thing I did not do was mix the cabbage from time to time. One other thing, the brine is very cloudy. Should this be tossed? thank you, as I enjoy the questions and responses posted.
Abbe's picture

Ok...I made the kraut this past Saturday. Did everything correctly (salt to kraut ratio, plate submerging kraut with 3 clean water-filled mason jars on top)and have been scraping off Scum (small bubbles) every other day. Today, 5 days after making it, there was little dots of white mold. Brine is cloudy with small pieces of cabbage floating. Doesn't smell off, either. Pulled jars off washed them and now to try and get plate off without tipping it with the more cloudy brine it has on top. My question is this: Since there was small dots of white mold should I throw this batch away? Doesn't seem to be fermenting, but I'm really not sure. Everything is in a 5 gallon, food safe bucket and has been kept around 67-70 degrees. Please help!
john's picture

Sorry on the late response Abbe. Does it smell sour? Sour, "ferment-y" aromas are good. White mold isn't a deal-breaker, and cloudy brine is totally normal. 5 days is a little too soon to write off a batch that's been sluggish.
Marilynne's picture

My question concerns possibly too much salt. I did a tare on the lg. bowl used to mix 5 lbs. of slaw with salt (husband shredding, me mixing, pounding into crock). We used two large stainless steel bowls, and halfway through the process, I wondered if the one bowl might be heavier than the one I did the tare with. Sure enough, it was almost a pound heavier! Consequently, I was weighing out 4 lbs. with that bowl, and still adding 3 1/2 T. of salt. We ended with almost 30 lbs. of kraut in the crock. Is that extra amount of salt going to inhibit/prevent the fermentation? Will it eventually ferment?
john's picture

Hi Marilynne! If you miscalculated on only 4 of the 30 pounds, I think you'll be just fine!
Beth Cartner's picture

Every year we have a big get together and shred cabbage for kraut and chowchow. Last year the guys didn't think it was sour enough. This year we added more pickling salt. The kraut was very salty tasting but we canned it anyway. Is there anyway to tame the saltiness?? I did see the ratio for cabbage to salt for next years batch.
meg's picture adding more salt definitely won't help it become more tart. If you add too much salt, it can even prevent fermentation from occurring at all. But one way to take some of the salt out of the batch you've already made is to soak it in cold water. Just cover the kraut with cold water and let it soak for at least 30 minutes. Depending on how salty it is, you may want to drain the water and add fresh and soak a second time. Let us know if that helps!
Pamela Bertrand 's picture

After 2 weeks of the fermentation process, my kraut tastes a little salty. Is there anything I can do to reduce the salty taste?
meg's picture

You can try soaking it in cold water for a little while before eating it. If you cook with it, just keep in mind that it's a bit salty and be careful how much additional salt you add to the dish. For example, I'll bet if you made a sauerkraut soup with it, it would be really delicious and you probably wouldn't have to add much, if any, additional salt.
Jean's picture

How much other vegetables can be added to the cabbage without effecting the fermentation process? I have Napa cabbage, green tomatoes, celery, carrots, jalapeños, ginger.
meg's picture

You can add other vegetables along with the cabbage, and it will be fine. Just make sure that the ratio of vegetables to salt stays the same as in the recipe above. If you have a kitchen scale, here's an easy way to figure out how much salt to add: Weigh all the vegetables (preferably in grams), then multiply that weight by .015 to get the weight of salt you will need to add. For ferments where you massage the vegetables with salt to get them to release water, you typically use 1.5% salt. For ferments where you use a brine, you typically use 5% salt.
Jean Bowman's picture

My veggies have been in the jar for about a week. At first, I saw a few bubbles but there have been none for several days. I stir daily. Yesterday I added about 1/2 cup homemade yogurt whey. Still no bubbles although it tastes good. The temp is in the 70 degrees range occasionally dropping into upper 60s. It couldn't be done yet. Any advice appreciated.
meg's picture

It's always hard to give advice on this kind of thing because I can't see or smell your kraut so definitely take everything I say with a grain of salt. Fermentation isn't always dramatic. Sometimes the bubbles are really noticeable, and sometimes they're not. There are a lot of fermentation folks who claim that kraut should ferment at room temp for 6 weeks or more. I am not one of those people. I ferment for flavor, so when one of my ferments tastes good to me, I refrigerate it. Usually, this is about a week-long process. I recently made a batch of kimchi that took less than a week to get pretty sour, so I put it in the fridge to slow the fermentation down. Does your kraut taste sour? Is it funky (in a good way)? Or does it just taste like salted cabbage? If it's sour, I would say it might just be done fermenting at its most rapid rate. Our apartment stays at 68 degrees, so I don't think temperature is a problem. If it's not sour to your liking, I would just keep it out at room temp and see what happens. Just keep an eye out for mold.
Dan's picture

My sauerkraut juice has a slight smell of sewage. I didn't put any water and salt it was covered in its own juices from rubbing salt into the chopped cabbage. I left it to ferment for 6 weeks. The cabbage don't taste like sewage I'm not sure what to do. I can't bring myself to throw it. What should I do.
meg's picture

This is a hard question to answer. If I could smell it myself I could probably tell you whether it's bad or not. Smell is so subjective--I absolutely love the smells that come from fermentation, but I know people that think that normal fermentation smells horrible. Can you tell me more about your fermentation process? Have you had any mold issues? Does it look good? Is it sour-tasting?
dan's picture

hello meg thank you for getting back to me. there was no mold issues and yes it does look good and it does take sour.
meg's picture

I would say it's probably fine. Sometimes fermentation projects do smell a little strange!
rose's picture

my kraut has been fermenting for several weeks. it is in a crock with a water seal top. I opened it and removed some white scum which you advised and i cooked some. yum. however i noticed that the brine level is couple inches below the top of the cabbage. should i add brine to cover it?
meg's picture

Yes. Definitely add brine to cover. Sometimes you can use a spoon to push the kraut below the surface of the brine, but if there's not enough to cover it, I would just make additional brine and pour it over the cabbage.
William's picture

Hi, I’ve not fermented by own foods before. I can’t seem to find clear guidance online about storing the finished sauerkraut. Should it be stored in a jar submerged within the brine in which is was originally fermented, or should it be drained and then stored in an airtight jar? If both are acceptable, which would you recommend?
meg's picture

I recommend storing it in a jar submerged in its brine.
Nyle's picture

I just started my first batch after reading this and other sites. What I ended up doing since I brew beer and wine which also do not like oxygen after the yeast starts, is to buy an inexpensive did grade 2 gallon pail with lid, grommet, and bubbler. Then I made a relatively air right fermenter and followed your instructions. I'll watch for airlock.activity but I plan to leave it 3 weeks before I check it. I also sanitized the bucket, lid, bubbler, etc. with Starsan used to sanitize beer and wine equipment. I'll report back my results in a few weeks. Just thought even though fermenting of this type has been done successfully for a very long time without such elaborate methods why not mix my beer and wine process with fermenting other food. Cabbage first, then pickles, then who knows maybe Ksmbucha or Kimche.
meg's picture

Kimchi is so delicious and so much fun to make! I keep threatening to post a kimchi recipe on this site, so maybe I'll get around to that one of these days ;)
Ryan's picture

Excellent thread. Lots of great info! Do you sterilize the spoon in before you stir it each time, or is thar overkill? I have a crock coming soon. I read somewhere that it's good to sterilize it with boiling water or vinegar before using.
meg's picture

Definitely sterilize the crock when you get it. I do not sterilize the spoon when I stir my sauerkraut, but I do make sure it's good and clean.
wk's picture

I made Kraut in old 5 gallon crock & I had to use brine as it I had no moisture at all. I place cheesecloth over it and tucked in the sides, put a plate over that & weighted it down. My question is that it smells like Kraut but has never really bubbled & I have not had to skim it at all, does it need tossed? Thanks
john's picture

Just go by smell. Don't worry if you haven't noticed bubbles (it's hard to see in an earthenware crock).
Chelsea's picture

My cabbage in my garden is ready to be picked and I'm ready to head off on a two week long vacation at the end of this week. My question is, am I able to leave my fermenting cabbage unattended for two weeks and remove any scum/mold from the top when I get back without repercussions? Or is it pertinent to be present to check it regularly?
john's picture

Well, it depends. If you have an airlock, I would be fairly confident that scums and molds are not going to be a big deal. If it's an open-air situation, scum is more likely.
Aaron Renier's picture

I have read different blogs about how long to let the kraut ferment, and I only let my first ever batch go for 1 week yesterday. I put it in fridge, but today wish I would have let it out much longer. Can I just take it out and let it pick up where it left off? If the brine still covers it? Thank you!
john's picture

I think you might have some success with that. Ferements continue fermenting in the refrigerator (albeit much slower), so it should pick up again.
Rod's picture

My brother and I have been making sauerkraut for about 25 years. We use 8 gallon crocks and "stomp" it with a wooden stomper to get the juice flowing, adding salt as we go. We lay a dinner plate on ours and a rock. We always cover it with plastic and wrap masking tape around the crock. Usually starting with 250 lbs of cabbage yields 90-110 quart. We always pack our in jars and can it. We make it about every 3 years. It will last longer than that.
Dede's picture

Hi, I just made a batch of sauerkraut and I was wondering if I can add some white wine to it or if this will kill off the probiotic bacteria.


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Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Have ready a 9x13" baking pan and a rolled pie crust, homemade (see recipe below) or store-bought (thawed if frozen).
In a large skillet, heat over medium to medium...