Homemade sauerkraut is an easy way to try your hand at fermentation. With only two ingredients and endless nutritional benefits, this flavorful condiment adds a tangy twist to many dishes. Plus, it’s so simple to make your own sauerkraut at home that you might be asking yourself why you haven’t been doing it for years!

Sauerkraut has been a staple in Eastern European cuisine for centuries. Not only is it a delicious addition to a variety of meals, sauerkraut also has many health benefits as it’s rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that support gut health and aid in digestion. The fermentation process enhances its nutritional value, boosting its vitamin content while also increasing the bioavailability of minerals.

Additionally, homemade sauerkraut contains none of the preservatives or additives that are commonly found in store-bought versions. Its tangy and crisp flavor makes it a versatile condiment that can elevate the taste of salads, sandwiches, hot dogs and traditional dishes such as perogies or schnitzel.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Before diving into the sauerkraut-making process, gather these essential ingredients:

  1. Cabbage: You’ll need one medium-sized head of cabbage (about 2 – 2.5 pounds). Green cabbage is the traditional choice, but you can experiment with red cabbage or a combination for a colorful twist. Always opt for organic cabbage as cabbage that has been sprayed with pesticides can kill off the good bacteria that is crucial to the fermentation process.
  2. Salt: Use non-iodized salt, preferably sea salt or kosher salt, for the best results. You’ll need about 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt for 2 pounds of cabbage.

Equipment You’ll Need

  1. Large Mixing Bowl: This is where you’ll combine the cabbage and salt. Opt for a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl as other metals like aluminum, copper and iron can be reactive and can cause undesired results.
  2. Knife, Mandoline or Food Processor: You’ll need this to shred the cabbage finely. A sharp knife works great, but a mandoline or food processor will speed up the process.
  3. Fermentation Container: You’ll need a clean glass jar or ceramic container to store your ferment in. Mason jars work well for smaller batches.
  4. Weight: You’ll need something to weigh down the cabbage to keep it submerged beneath the brine. A smaller jar filled with water, a purpose-made fermentation weight or even a clean rock will do the job!


Easy Homemade Sauerkraut

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Prepare the Cabbage:
    • Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and set them aside.
    • Quarter the cabbage and remove the core.
    • Thinly slice the cabbage into fine shreds. The thinner, the better, as this allows for quicker fermentation, although you may prefer a chunkier sauerkraut.
  2. Add Salt:
    • Place the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl.
    • Sprinkle the salt evenly over the cabbage.
    • Toss the shredded cabbage with the salt and gently. massage the salt into the cabbage using your hands. This helps break down the cell walls, releasing moisture and creating the brine necessary for the fermentation process to begin. Let the cabbage-salt mixture sit for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cabbage becomes limp and releases liquid.
  3. Pack the Cabbage:
    • Transfer the cabbage and any liquid it released into your fermentation container.
    • Pack the cabbage down tightly into the container using a wooden spoon or other non-metallic tool like this sauerkraut pounder, ensuring there are no air pockets. Leave some space at the top to allow for some expansion during fermentation.
  4. Weight it Down:
    • Place one or two of the reserved cabbage leaves over the shredded cabbage and tuck the sides down to help keep sauerkraut submerged.
    • Place your fermentation weight on top of the cabbage leaves to keep everything submerged in the brine.
  5. Fermentation:
    • Cover the container with a lid. If you’re using a mason jar, simply screw on the lid without tightening it completely to allow gases to escape. If using a lid, you’ll want to “burp” the mixture once every day or two to allow gasses to release, especially if the lid is on tight. You can also use a coffee filter secured with an elastic band during the initial fermentation process, or alternatively, you can use an airlock lid or silicone fermentation lid, both of which will essentially “burp” themselves.
    • Store the container at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, for anywhere from 3 days up to about 2 weeks. Keep it on a dish to catch any spill-over as the sauerkraut may bubble over during the initial fermentation. Check on it occasionally to ensure the cabbage remains submerged beneath the brine.
  6. Taste Test:
    • After a few days, start tasting the sauerkraut. It’s ready when it reaches your desired level of tanginess. If you like it more sour, let it ferment for a bit longer.
  7. Storage:
    • Once you’re satisfied with the flavor, remove the weight and cabbage leaves.
    • Secure the lid tightly and transfer the sauerkraut to the refrigerator. It will continue to slowly ferment but at a much slower rate.


Homemade sauerkraut is a delicious and nutritious addition to your meals. This recipe is for traditional sauerkraut made with just salt and cabbage, however you can experiment with adding different herbs and spices or even add some carrots, apples or hot peppers for a unique twist. A tasty alternative to traditional sauerkraut is Curtido, which is a fermented cabbage slaw that originates in El Salvador and includes carrots, jalapeños, garlic, red onion and oregano. You can get the full recipe for Curtido, along with this recipe for sauerkraut and a traditional Kimchi recipe in the August 2021 issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine (The Fermentation Issue). Click here to subscribe and get access to all past issues, or login to the library here to access this issue (current subscribers).

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut

Easy Homemade Sauerkraut

Anna Sakawsky
Homemade sauerkraut is an easy way to try your hand at fermentation. With only two ingredients and endless nutritional benefits, this flavorful condiment adds a tangy twist to many dishes.
Course Side Dish


  • Large Glass or Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl
  • Large Knife or Food Processor
  • Cutting Board
  • Wooden or Non-Metallic Spoon
  • Large Glass Jar(s) with Lids (a quart-sized Mason jar should work)
  • Fermentation Weight(s) (can be a jam jar, a clean rock, etc.)


  • 1 head Green Cabbage
  • 1 tbsp Fine Kosher or Sea Salt


  • Remove damaged outer cabbage leaves and rinse the cabbage head clean. (Save one or two good outer leaves for the end). Cut cabbage in half or quarters and remove the core, then finely slice cabbage with a knife or shred in a food processor.
  • In a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl, toss shredded cabbage and salt together and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
  • Once cabbage has gone limp and released some liquid, tightly pack into a glass jar (or multiple jars if necessary), pressing down with a wooden or non-metallic spoon to release more liquid and remove any air bubbles.
  • Continue packing cabbage down to cover completely with liquid leaving about 2 inches of headspace. Cover the shredded cabbage with the saved outer leaf (or leaves) and weigh it down with fermentation weights or a smaller jam or jelly jar (or even a clean rock!) Avoid using metal as it can negatively affect the flavour of your sauerkraut.
  • Place lid on top and screw down loosely. If using a lid, you’ll want to “burp” the mixture once every day or two to allow gasses to release, especially if the lid is too tight. Alternatively, place a coffee filter on top and secure with a rubber band, or use an airlock or silicone fermentation lid while it ferments on your counter.
  • Allow sauerkraut to sit at room temperature for 3 days to 2 weeks (on a dish to catch any spill-over), pressing down regularly to keep cabbage covered in liquid and tasting periodically until your desired flavour is reached.
  • Once you are happy with how it tastes, remove the weight, skim off any white film that has developed on top, cover with a canning lid and store in the fridge for up to 6 months.*


* In reality, you can probably store your sauerkraut longer than 6 months, but it can start to get too sour and can begin to go a little mushy.
Keyword Fermented Foods, Ferments, Sauerkraut

This post has been adapted from a collection of recipes that originally appeared in the August 2021 Issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. Subscribe here to get this issue, plus gain access to our entire digital library of past issues.