“Best Ever” Lacto-fermented Sauerkraut *

I’ve finally found the secret to great sauerkraut…..very finely shred the cabbage! I was doing it by hand before because I don’t have a thin enough blade for my food processor. But I guess cutting it into shreds by hand just wasn’t getting it thin enough. And I never thought to use my mandolin….duh 😛 So that’s it….now I use my mandolin to get super-fine threads of cabbage, about 2mm thick, perfect for the “best ever” lacto-fermented sauerkraut.

  • 2 1/2 pounds of very thinly shredded green cabbage (from a 3 1/2 to 4 pound head)
    (can also use red cabbage if you prefer, makes a milder lovely colored “pink” kraut)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Real Salt OR fine Himalayan Salt
  • Extra Brine: 1 1/8 teaspoons salt + 1 cup filtered water

You Will Also Need:

1/2-gallon (2-quart) sized wide-mouth jar (preferably with air-lock lid)
wooden dowel (food-safe) OR back of a wooden spoon

Place a few small handfuls of the shredded cabbage into the bottom of 1/2-gallon jar. Sprinkle this cabbage with a light layer of your sea salt. Gently tamp, pound, the cabbage down in the jar with a flat rolling pin or a wooden spoon. Repeat this until all the cabbage and salt is used up (this should happen at about the same time, so try to use up your salt evenly).

Loosely cap the jar, set it aside for 30 minutes to allow the cabbage to self-brine.

Press down on the cabbage, checking how much brine the cabbage made. If necessary, make up the extra brine and pour just enough over the top of the cabbage to completely cover. Keep in mind that the cabbage will soak up some of the brine during the fermenting process, and we want the cabbage to stay moist throughout.

Place lid (preferably air-lock lid) on the jar tightly. If using air-lock fill with water according to instructions. Allow to ferment, at room temperature, for 7 days.

Remove air-lock lid, if using, and replace with storage lid — transfer to cold storage (should last up to 6 months if properly stored).

Makes 1/2-Gallon.

*Sugar-Free / Grain-Free

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

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  1. I’m new to the air lock system for fermenting. So like every one I did the carrots. All turned out good. They went thru the 7day ferment, I capped them and place in the cool room for a few days, then brought them out and we have been munching on them at noon. Then back into the fridge.
    My question is–When you start eating these carrots and the brine continues to go down , more and more of the carrots are sticking out of the brine. Is this a problem? Can it develop into a problem?
    How long can I expect them be OK/safe in this situation?

  2. Bettina Ferrando says:

    Hi, so I didn’t read the instructions that I should only fill the quart jar half full and I packed the cabbage in to about 2 inches below the lid and now I have overflow. Everything looks ok in that I don’t see any mould. Should I open it, take some out, pack it back down again and then reseal?


    • Bettina, this is one of the reasons we really suggest using a 1/2-gallon jar for making sauerkraut. Using a quart jar you don’t get much kraut in the end. So, go ahead and open the jar and remove enough cabbage so you have the proper spacing. Close it back up and continue fermenting for the remaining time. Since you didn’t see any mold it sounds like everything should be fine. 🙂

  3. Hi- I just recieved my order today and am excited! I am going to do kraut first. Question-
    can I use the weights I ordered to put on top of the cabbage to keep it under the brine?

    • Janet, Yes the weights you got with your kit will work great for making sauerkraut. The weights will work with any foods that you need to hold down. Let me know how it goes with your kraut! – Jeff

  4. Hi I just found this site and I am new to making sauerkraut, I used pink Himalayan salt, red cabbage and green cabbage and really massaged in the salt, I used a kilner clip jar. Loos good too me well covered in brine nice pink brine, how ever my family are freaking out about the smell, it smells like normal cabbage smell to me, but I have 3 boys and their dad saying it smells like carts, which is odd coming from them, it’s only day two. Please tell me the smell off boiled cabbage will dissapear, I am getting so much stick.

    • Tracy, Yes the smell is not wonderful for the first few days, it gets better by day 7-10. You are doing everything correct it appears. Great salt to use. – Jeff

  5. Hi, I bought your air locks but only have 1 quart jars. How far do I fill them? Thanks

    • Chris, you would need to only fill the jars around halfway using quart jars. Cabbage expands a lot during the process of making the sauerkraut and often we hear that people when filling the jars to near the top experience overflow of liquid out of the airlock. This is one reason we suggest using a 1/2 gallon jar since it can only be filled 2/3 full to avoid overflow issues. With a quart jar filled halfway to avoid the issue of overflow you will only get around a pint of sauerkraut. So if quart jars are used you will have to 2 to 3 for the recipe or reduce the recipe.

  6. Christina says:


    I made sayrkraut last Thursday in 2qt jars using airlocks and the pink Himalayan salt. Also used ‘crock rocks’ to hold down the kraut under the brine. Used a large cabbage leaf under the crock rock. My question is, the cabbage has floated to the too of brine, some sticking out of the brine completely (part of the big leaf that is). If using an airlock, will the kraut still be ok or will it go bad since its above the brine? Should I open the hard and try to push the kraut down (its been 4 days and I planned on fermenting for 4 weeks as to ‘kill off’ the goitergens in the cabbage). Thanks for any assistance you can offer!

    • Christina, it is best if everything stays under the brine (this is true for any method of fermentation, ie. air-lock, crock, etc.). Especially if fermenting for that extended period of time.

  7. Thank you for the recipe. I just received 2 of the lids from Cooking God’s Way and want to start some kraut today. Question, though; I only have iodized table salt, Kosher salt, pickling salt, and sea salt in the house. Which of those would be okay to use, if any… or do I need to run into town and find some Himalayan salt for this? Thanks so much! Oh, and would quart jars be okay, and still set for 7 days? Sorry, guess I had TWO questions. 😉 Thank you!

    • Jodi, thanks for writing.

      The very best salt to use would be Himalayan salt as it is completely natural and unprocessed, rich with minerals. Though I understand your not wanting to run out to the store. So, of all the salts that you mentioned I would choose the sea salt. FYI – the “whiter” the salt the more processed it is. I would personally throw the iodized table salt in the trash. You may want to read more about different salts and their effects on the body in these articles: “Do You Need Iodized Salt?”, “Do I Need Salt? Life or Death?” and “What Salts Are Best?”.

      In theory it is okay to make the kraut in quart jars, but I’ve found it works best in half-gallon (2-quart) sized jars. This is due to the head space needed when making sauerkraut. You need 3 to 4 inches space from the cabbage to the top of the jar. This allows for expansion. Sauerkraut really can expand a lot, and if not given enough head space in the jar you can have issues with overflowing/leakage. So if you do use quart jars you should not fill them more than about halfway full.

      I hope I’ve answered your all of questions. Please let me know if there’s anything else 🙂

      • Hi Shannon. First, thank you so much for your help! And I apologize that it took me so long to say so. I do appreciate it very much!

        I made my first batch (I did use a 1/2-gallon jar) and am approaching Day-7. Unfortunately I need to bother you again; I’d really appreciate some further advice.

        I made a bit extra brine and mixed and mashed my kraut as best I could. From the get-go, however, I had a lot of trouble getting my kraut to pack down tight in the jar. It wanted very much to float. I did finally get it packed fairly well (although it still seemed to contain more than it’s fair share of “floaties”). I then tried another tip I’d read to place strips of carrot shreds across the top to form a “cover” of sorts, but my little carrot-shreds “lid” just fell apart and integrated into the top layer of cabbage as soon as I tried to press it in at all. So now I have a lovely ferment going with cabbage on the bottom and a mix of cabbage and carrot on top. And, it still seemed to want to float a fair amount.

        I should also state here that while I used one of your airlock lids, I completely forgot to put the water in it until several hours later. Yep, I figured I’d probably already doomed the batch, but decided to go ahead with it anyway just to see…. I put the water in and went back to bed (yes, the realization smacked me hard and woke me up!).

        Now… everything has actually looked, so far, like it’s going okay, with one big exception; beginning on Day 3, the entire batch of veggies floated up in the brine, and the top 1/4-inch or so is sticking out of it. There’s a big space in the bottom of the jar that is just brine. It’s been floating that way ever since. The only reason I haven’t just chucked it is because I do have the airlock lid on there (which now even contains the water! Hooray for meeeee! LOL). I don’t SEE any mold, but I have no idea whether it’s safe that it all decided to become bouyant. Any advice for me (like maybe, never, ever try to ferment food again, you idiot!)? 😉

        You are a saint to put up with me let alone offer your help. Thank you once again!!

        • Jodi, I am glad to help!

          I think the late filling of the air-lock is okay. It shouldn’t have caused an issue.

          Occasionally the cabbage is stubborn and does like to float! It sounds like you were doing the right thing by putting some carrots on top to weigh it down and keep it from floating. I think maybe though the carrots need to be cut into bigger/thicker sticks. Then line them up, like you’re making a carrot raft, on top if the cabbage (they should fit very snuggly). Try that next time and see if it helps.

          If you have some days left on the ferment time, I would quickly open up the jar, scoop off and discard an inch or two of the cabbage that may be dry and/or brown from floating. Push the cabbage back down and then close up the jar, leaving it to finish with the remaining days of fermentation.

          When the fermentation time is complete use the following steps to check if it is “good” (edible):

          1) Look at the contents, does it look okay? (If there is a layer of discolored cabbage on top, you can scrape it off and discard.)
          2) If it “looks” okay, open the jar and do the “smell” test. If it smells okay (a little tangy, like fermented cabbage), and NOT like rotten eggs etc. then proceed to…
          3) Do a “taste” test. Using a clean fork take a very small bite, if it tastes okay then everything should be good-to-go. While it might not taste like a fine-aged-sauerkraut, it should taste like “fermented” cabbage. Real sauerkraut will age in the fridge, tasting better and better as weeks pass.

          Let me know how it goes 🙂

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Where do you store yours for cold storage? The fridge will quickly run out of room if I ferment all that my garden produces. Thanks!

    • Elizabeth, we store our ferments in the fridge. In-fact we have a separate small refrigerator for exactly this purpose. It’s easy to now see why root cellars were so popular in time past. 🙂

  9. Hello!

    I made my first batch of sauerkraut in a 2 quart jar. Came out great! In fact, it’s gone. Everyone loved it. Soooo….i got a crock from my mom and put a large batch in it. It’s been 2 days. This morning the outside of crock is powdery and smells weird. Looks cloudy inside. I have plate in it. It’s an old 2 gallon crock. What’s happening?

    • Kellye, congratulations on the sauerkraut you made in the 2 quart jar. We really love our sauerkraut here!

      I really cannot say what happened to your batch of kraut in the crock. I do not use crocks for fermenting. I just use mason jars and an air-lock system, it is the method I prefer and have consistently good results with. I would suggest going back to the jar method as you have had success with that in the past.

  10. Thanks for the great website. I made sauerkraut last week using the recipe from your book and the bubbler covers. It seems the cabbage floats to the top and the very top turns brown. You can see this more readily with the red cabbage. Is there some way to mitigate this, or keep the cabbage down? Can you eat the browned cabbage? It does not smell bad. Thank you !

    • Mike, if you are having an issue with the cabbage floating you can use some sort of weight in the jar to keep it down. Some have used food-safe dehydrator screens that they cut to fit in the jar. Others have used a boiled smooth rock inside the jar.

      I would not eat the browned cabbage. Remove it from the jar and discard it.

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