Fermented Cabbage (Sour Kraut)

Fermented Cabbage is so easy to make and it is so good for you. It has a lot of probiotics that are beneficial to your gut microbiome. It also has Vitamin K2 which is also known for its health benefits. Some studies suggest that it may strengthen your immune system, improve your digestion, reduce your risk of certain diseases, and may help maintain healthy body weight. I would recommend you do your own research on that and come to your own conclusions but a lot of research shows that fermented foods are really good for your body and digestion.

According to BBC Good Food, fermented cabbage (sour kraut) has:

  • 4kcal / 18KJ
  • 0.6g Protein
  • 0.0g Fat
  • 0.6g Carbohydrates
  • 1.5g Fiber
  • 25mg Calcium
  • 90mg Potassium
  • 5mg Vitamin C
  • 0.74g Salt

Also, they say to be aware of many varieties are pasteurized to extend their shelf-life, this kills the beneficial bacteria. Look for ‘unpasteurized’ products which should be kept chilled. This way you get more of the beneficial bacteria from the fermented sour kraut.

It would appear that fermented foods, like sauerkraut, may play an important part. Certain strains of probiotic bacteria, including Lactobacillus, helveticus, and bifidobacteria commonly found in fermented foods, may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. They do this by promoting a healthier balance in the gut and through their production of compounds called short-chain fatty acids which help to reduce inflammation and promote a healthier gut environment.

Sour Kraut is mostly safe for everyone to consume unless you have a histamine intolerance. If you have a histamine intolerance you make experience side effects after consuming so I would recommend speaking with your physician. Those on prescribed medication, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), should exercise caution when introducing sauerkraut to their diet. This is because sauerkraut may have high levels of tyramine. Introducing fermented foods to someone who is critically ill or Immune-compromised should be done with caution and under the guidance of a GP or healthcare professional.

When you are making your own sauerkraut, always follow a recipe and be sure to use sterile equipment, and follow fermentation times and temperatures carefully. Some sauerkrauts are high in salt, so if you follow a low-salt diet, check the labels and/or recipes to assess whether it is appropriate for you and your family.

If you are asking “What is sour kraut?” I will tell you.

It is finely cut raw cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. It has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavor, both of which result from the lactic acid formed when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage leaves. It is one of the best-known National dishes in/of Germany. It is a wonderful story on the origin of where sour kraut came from and you can find a lot of stories online about this wonderful dish. Many believe It came from China over 2000 years ago.

Before frozen foods, refrigeration, and cheap transport from warmer areas became readily available in Northern, Central, and Eastern Europe, sauerkraut – like other preserved foods – provided a source of nutrients during the winter. Captain James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him it prevented scurvy. Isn’t that interesting?

Also, the word “kraut” derived from this food, is a derogatory term for the German people. During WW1, due to concerns the American public would reject a product with a German name, American sauerkraut makers relabeled their product as “liberty cabbage” for the duration of the war.

I love learning the history of people, places, things, and even food. It is so interesting to learn especially about what you are eating and the history surrounding it. Knowledge is life. lol.

Anyway, here is how to make Fermented Cabbage.


2 to 3 tbsp Salt per head of cabbage (depending on how salty you like it)
a tamper – or you can use the back of a wooden spoon
Sterilized mason jars and lids
food funnel
fermentation weights or cabbage leaves


  1. First, you want to shred or grate your cabbage. I like to cut the cabbage with a knife because I like the wonky pieces instead of the really fine-grated pieces. You can do it how you like.
  2. Add all of your cabbage to a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle over 1 tbsp of salt and mix together with your hands. Then add the second tbsp of salt and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. This is going to allow the salt to break down the cabbage and help pull out the water from the cabbage. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT DISCARD THAT LIQUID. You will need that later.
  4. After you have let this set for at least 2 hours you can then go in and start to massage the cabbage with your hands. You will want to do this for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Place a food funnel onto your sterilized jar and place one to two handfuls of the cabbage into the jars. Take the tamper or the back of a wooden spoon and tamp down the cabbage as best as you can. You want to fit as much cabbage as you can into the jars.
  6. Once you get as much cabbage into the jars you can pour in some of that watery liquid from the bowl or you can make a salt brine. I will list that below. Fill the jar up to the bottom line of the jar with the cabbage.
  7. Place the fermentation weight onto the cabbage and press down until there is enough room to attach the lid. If some of the liquid comes out that is ok. I usually do this in a baking dish to catch any of the liquid that comes out so I do not lose it and I can add it to another jar if need be.
  8. Once you have the fermentation weight in the jar add the lid. You want to just barely attach the ring so that it is fairly loose but it is still on the jar. You want it loose enough to let out any gases that accumulate in the jar.
  9. Place the jar(s) in a baking dish and in a well-ventilated area to ferment for the next week. You want to keep it away from any other fermentation jars of food you have going on the counter to avoid any cross-contamination from jar to jar. You will want to keep them about 20 feet apart or so. During the fermentation process, you will see some liquid in the baking dish from the sour kraut. That is ok. You can discard that and place the jars back into the dish to further ferment.

After about 5 to 7 days you can taste the sour kraut and if it is where you like it (sour-ness) you can remove the fermentation weight and tighten the lid and place it in the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process. Sometimes I am ok with 1-week fermentation and sometimes I let it go for another 2 weeks or up to 1 month. It really depends on how YOU like it.

It will keep for such a long time in the fridge, about 4 to 6 months. Just make sure that you securely attach the lid after using it.

  • If you are fermenting other foods like jalapenos, carrots, okra, or other vegetables you will need to make a salt brine. SALT BRINE *I get about 3 to 4 cups of water in a pot and bring it to a boil I let it boil for about 5 minutes to kill off any bacteria. I add about 3 to 4 tbsp of salt (more or less) and stir to dissolve. I let the water cool completely before using it. Add your vegetables to a clean sterilized jar and pour over the salt brine. I add the fermentation weight and secure it loosely with the jar lid and ring.*
  • Make sure there is NO visible food above the fermentation weight as it will spoil and possibly ruin your fermented food. You do not want to put in all that work just for one piece of food above the fermentation weight to ruin it. If you see any food above the fermentation weight you can scoop it out with a spoon and discard it.
  • Make sure to check the liquid level in your fermented food during the fermentation process and add more salt brine if needed. You want that salt brine in there so it ferments your food properly and safely.
  • If you do not have fermentation lids you can use cabbage leaves to press down the cabbage in the jars below the liquid level. They work well and I have used this method for years. I finally invested in fermentation weights, however, I still use this method if needed.
  • Yes, you can use purple cabbage and napa cabbage as well as green cabbage for sour kraut. No worries.

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