Simple Homemade Sauerkraut

January 16, 2019 (Last Updated: February 8, 2019)
Homemade Sauerkraut

There’s something special about homemade sauerkraut. Sure, it’s easy to go to the store and just buy a jar, but there are not a lot of brands that taste nearly as good or contain live cultures. The ones that do can be pretty dang pricey.

This homemade sauerkraut is so inexpensive and easy to prepare, and you probably already have everything you need to make it laying around your kitchen.

What You Will Need

  • 1 Quart jar
  • Sea salt
  • Large head of cabbage
  • Tamper, or similar smashing implement

The Homemade Sauerkraut Method

When you start slicing up your head of cabbage you probably won’t believe that it will all fit in one quart jar. Trust me on this, when you are done mashing it all up, it will.

Don’t worry about making your slices perfect, it won’t matter in the end.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Transfer the sliced cabbage to a large bowl, and sprinkle with the sea salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. The salt will make the cabbage sweat, and this will work to your advantage when mashing it.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Begin mashing your homemade sauerkraut with a tamper or similar object. The first time I made homemade sauerkraut I didn’t have a tamper, so I just use a meat tenderizer because it was what I had on hand. You really don’t need anything fancy.

Rotate between mashing and massaging the cabbage with your hands. This will allow the juices to be released more easily.

Homemade Sauerkraut

When enough of the juices have been released to use as a brine and the cabbage has a limp and soft texture, you are ready to pack your homemade sauerkraut into a jar.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Pack the cabbage tightly into a quart jar a little at a time. This part might get a little messy!

Homemade Sauerkraut

Once all of the cabbage has been packed into your jar, pour enough of the remaining brine in to completely submerge the cabbage. It’s important that the cabbage itself is not exposed to air during the fermentation process.

If some does happen to float up while fermenting, just simply remove that part, and the rest is still safe to eat.

You can use a weight, a zip-lock bag filled with water, or even the core from your head of cabbage to weigh down the sauerkraut below the brine.

Place the jar lid on top, and close very lightly. Below, I have used a fermentation lid. You can find jar lids that have an airlock, or you can use fermentation jars with locking lids. A simple jar lid works just fine though, so no need to go buy anything special.

Your homemade sauerkraut does still need to breathe, so if you use a jar lid, remove it briefly once per day to release the pressure.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Allow your homemade sauerkraut to ferment for 1-2 weeks, testing for a nice smell and flavor whenever you feel you want to.

You’re probably panicking a little and asking yourself, “if I mess this up, will I give myself food poisoning?” I felt the same way my fist time, and to answer your question, it’s extremely rare. You will know if something went wrong with your ferment, because it will be very moldy and will not smell right.

If you would like to know what to look for when inspecting for safety, here is a good explanation.

Simple Homemade Sauerkraut

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By Curie Ganio
Prep Time: 20 Min Cooking Time: 1-2 Weeks

Sauerkraut is incredibly simple to make at home, tastes delicious, and has many health benefits.


  • 1 Large Head of Cabbage
  • 2 Heaping tsp Sea Salt



Rinse the head of cabbage and remove the outer leaves.


Place the head of cabbage on a cutting board, and with a large knife, quarter and remove the core.


Cut into thin slices and transfer to a large bowl.


Sprinkle sea salt over the sliced cabbage and allow to sit for 15 minutes.


Using a tamper or other solid object begin rotating between pounding the cabbage down, and then massaging with your hands until it becomes wet and limp and enough juice has been released to form a brine.


Transfer the cabbage to a quart jar, and pack it down tight.


Pour the in just enough brine to cover the cabbage and use a weight to hold it down below the brine. Be sure to leave at least 1 in of air at the top of the jar (you can buy a fermentation weight or simply fill a zip-lock bag with water and use as a weight).


Loosely cover the top of the jar with a lid.


Allow to ferment for 1-2 weeks on your counter top, out of direct sunlight.


Briefly remove the jar lid once daily to allow the sauerkraut to release pressure.


When desired flavor has been reached, remove any cabbage that has floated above the brine and discard.


Serve with sausages and other foods or eat directly from jar.


Optional: Add a small amount of Dill, Garlic, or Caraway seed for variation. There are many other ways to ferment your sauerkraut. You can use a crock or any other method of fermentation, this is just the simplest way to do it with things you most likely already have in your kitchen.

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