Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe (Kvashenaya Kapusta)

My mom has been making this homemade sauerkraut since I can remember. It is a classic Ukrainian/Russian tradition and it’s way easier than you might think! Did you know you could make a fantastic salad with it? It’s strangely delicious.

If you’ve tried a Slavic Kvashenaya Kapusta or Kysla Kapusta (our version of sauerkraut), you already know that there is nothing like a homemade sauerkraut. You can use it in anything that you’d put sauerkraut in (this is sauerkraut after all). Try it in the braised cabbage with beef … yum! I have two salad ideas detailed here, just for you. Because I like ya!

*A Note on the Cabbage: buy the ones that are light in color and NOT bright green (the light color indicates that it is a “late” in the year cabbage which works best for this recipe).
*The ones at the farmers market in Fall are best. Also, if you are using a soup pot for the fermenting process, don’t use aluminum.

Ingredients for Homemade Sauerkraut:

2 medium/large cabbages (2 1/2 kg or about 5 1/2 lbs) *See cabbage note above
2-3 medium carrots, grated
2 Tbsp fine sea salt
1 Tbsp sugar

Two ways to serve homemade Sauerkraut as a salad:

#1 Mom’s Classic Sauerkraut Salad:

1/2 small purple Onion, finely diced
2 Tbsp Sunflower Oil (preferred for more flavor), or olive oil

Homemade Sauerkraut-13

#2 Sauerkraut Apple Salad:

1/2 small purple Onion, finely diced
1/2 Apple (any kind; I used gala), diced
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp white grapes or dried cranberries
1-2 Tbsp extra light olive oil (not extra virgin)

Homemade Sauerkraut-12

How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut:

1. Remove the outermost leaves of the cabbage, cut it into quarters and shred cabbage finely (use a mandolin to do this if you know what’s good for you ;)). (discard the core, or trim it and eat it – it’s very tasty and good for you!). Grate the carrots.

Homemade Sauerkraut-3

2. In a large silver bowl, place cabbage, carrots, 2 Tbsp sea salt and 1 Tbsp sugar and scrunch and knead it together really well for the juice to be released from the cabbage (4-5 min). You don’t want it to be super juicy, just enough to cover the lettuce when you really pack it down in a jar.

homemade-sauerkraut

Scrunch it…

Homemade Sauerkraut-9

And scrunch it good…

Homemade Sauerkraut-10

See the juice? All a result of good scrunching.

Homemade Sauerkraut-11

3. Fill a glass jar with the cabbage mixture and pack it in very tightly so that the juice from the cabbage covers the cabbage completely. You want a jar big enough to be filled only about 2/3 full so it has room to expand

Homemade Sauerkraut-19

4. Make a press over the top of the cabbage by pushing down with a plate (or the lid from a large sour cream container). Top with a small jar of water, a super clean rock or whatever else would make a good weight.  Place the lid on the jar but do not tighten (this is just to keep bugs out). Its a good idea to keep the bottle in the sink or over a dish since there is risk of it overflowing (this is also why we only fill it 2/3 full; it grows!). Let stand at room temp for 4 days or until sour. It will stop fermenting/rising when it’s done

Homemade Sauerkraut-2-2

5. While it sits at room temperature, once each day: poke a few holes through the cabbage with the back of a wooden mixing spoon to release the gas that this process produces and pack the cabbage down tightly. I skipped a day with the poking and it was no big deal. If you are making a bigger batch, the poking process is more important to let the gasses escape.

Homemade Sauerkraut-4-2

6. After 4 days, refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be stored for a few weeks if kept very cold. Did you notice how the cabbage grew? Compare it to the photo in step 3.

Homemade Sauerkraut-3-2

And in the fridge it goes. Whoa is that our roasted salsa? Oh yes!

Homemade Sauerkraut-5-2 

To serve, drain the amount of cabbage that you would like to eat by firmly squeezing out the excess juice with your hands. Add in your salad ingredients, mix well and serve. Easy peasy!

homemade-sauerkraut-1
homemade-sauerkraut-3
Enjoy!

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe (Kvashenaya Kapusta)

4.9 from 18 reviews
Prep time:
Total time:
Author:
Skill Level: Easy
Cost To Make: $5-$7
Serving: 8 cups

Ingredients

Ingredients for Homemade Sauerkraut:

  • 2 medium/large cabbages (2½ kg or about 5½ lbs)
  • 2-3 medium carrots, grated
  • 2 Tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

Two ways to serve as a salad:

Mom's Classic Sauerkraut Salad:

  • ½ small purple Onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp Sunflower Oil (preferred for more flavor), or olive oil

Sauerkraut Apple Salad:

  • ½ small purple Onion, finely diced
  • ½ Apple (any kind; I used gala), diced
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp white grapes or dried cranberries
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra light olive oil (not extra virgin)

Instructions

How to Make Russian Sauerkraut:

  1. Remove the outermost leaves of the cabbage, cut it into quarters and shred cabbage finely (use a mandolin to do this faster and discard the core.
  2. In a large silver bowl, place cabbage, carrots, 2 Tbsp sea salt and 1 Tbsp sugar and scrunch and knead it together really well for the juice to be released from the cabbage (4-5 min). You don't want it to be super juicy, just enough to cover the lettuce when you really pack it down in a jar.
  3. Scrunch it until juices start to come out.
  4. Fill a glass jar with the cabbage mixture and pack it in very tightly so that the juice from the cabbage covers the cabbage completely. You want a jar big enough to be filled only about ⅔ full so it has room to expand.
  5. Make a press over the top of the cabbage by pushing down with a plate (or the lid from a large sour cream container). Top with a small jar of water, a super clean rock or whatever else would make a good weight. Place the lid on the jar but do not tighten. Its a good idea to keep the bottle in the sink or over a dish since there is risk of it overflowing (this is also why we only fill it ⅔ full; it grows!). Let stand at room temp for 4 days or until sour. It will stop fermenting/rising when it's done.
  6. While it sits at room temperature, once each day: poke a few holes through the cabbage with the back of a wooden mixing spoon to release the gas that this process produces and pack the cabbage down tightly.
  7. After 4 days, refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be stored for a few weeks if kept very cold.

To serve, drain the amount of cabbage that you would like to eat by firmly squeezing out the excess juice with your hands. Add in your salad ingredients, mix well and serve.

Notes

*A Note on the Cabbage: buy the ones that are light in color and NOT bright green (the light color indicates that it is a "late" in the year cabbage which works best for this recipe).
*The ones at the farmers market in Fall are best. Also, if you are using a soup pot for the fermenting process, don't use aluminum.
Start to finish, recipe takes 4 days.

Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Natalya Shemchuk
    November 10, 2017

    Why kvashena kapusta became slimy? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 10, 2017

      Hi Natalya, that can occur if you do not have the top layer submerged in the liquid – this is why I create a press to keep it pushed down. Also, be sure to store in the refrigerator when directed in the recipe Reply

  • Tatiana Jackson
    September 10, 2017

    Natasha, thank you for the recipe. I love your website and use it a lot.
    Just made the sauerkraut, packed it tightly and decided against the weight on top. Will wait and see what will happen. Your little tips are very helpful- like placing the jar on a plate to prevent overflow spills. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 10, 2017

      Hello Tatiana! Thanks for following! Please let me know how it turns out! Reply

  • Amy
    August 4, 2017

    Delicious and easy way to add fermented food to my diet. I am really loving every recipe I have tried from your website. Thanks! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 5, 2017

      My pleasure Amy! I’m glad to hear you love the recipes! Thanks for following and sharing your great review! Reply

  • Lena
    June 10, 2017

    Perfect!! Left it to ferment for 4 days and it came out PERFECT. Very crunchy and great tart taste without an overpowering vinegar scent to it like storebought. Thanks so much. Reply

    • Lena
      June 10, 2017

      Aye, I meant to put down 5 stars Reply

      • Natasha's Kitchen
        June 10, 2017

        Thank you!!!! <3 Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 10, 2017

      My pleasure Lena1 Thanks for sharing your wonderful review! Reply

  • Vic
    May 12, 2017

    I’ve never used sugar when making sauerkraut and I’ve never scrunched it either, although my mother does scrunch hers. I simply fold the salt in and then pack it down well. It doesn’t take long before the salt draws the moisture out. I check it every now and then and if the liquid hasn’t covered the cabbage, I simply add more weights until it does. We also add some chopped fresh dill to the Classic Sauerkraut Salad. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 13, 2017

      That’s great Vic! Thanks for sharing your tips! 🙂 Reply

  • Elena
    May 9, 2017

    Is it possible to do it without sugar? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      May 9, 2017

      Hi Elena, I just checked with my Mom to be sure and she said yes! Her mother used to make it without any sugar at all. I hope you love it! Reply

  • masha
    February 28, 2017

    Hi Natasha, have to comment on your kapusta recipe. THANK YOU and SPASIBO. Kapusta turned out totally super great, sour, crispy …. perfect. Thanks. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 28, 2017

      You’re welcome! Thanks for sharing your review!! 🙂 Reply

  • deb
    February 21, 2017

    How do you get rid of the gas that follows when eating cabbage? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      February 21, 2017

      lol. I don’t have an easy answer for that. Stand against the wind I guess. Lol. 🙂 Reply

  • Tanya
    January 3, 2017

    Will this recipe work with store bought cabbage? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 3, 2017

      Hi Tanya, yes, please see the note at the top of the post about selecting the right kind 🙂 Enjoy!! Reply

  • Marilyn
    October 13, 2016

    I have made sauerkraut for 50 years and I use coarse salt and caroway seed. Unique taste for sure. After making cabbage rolls I cover them with sauerkraut and tomatoes. Baked for 1 1/2 hours Freezes very well. I bought a fermenting/burping crock today and will make it fresh all winter. I usually use my very large crock which makes 75 ibis of sauerkraut and process it to can for the winter. Everyone wants a quart or five. Lol. Super food for sure. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      October 14, 2016

      I’ve never even heard of a fermenting crock. I’ll have to look into it! 🙂 Reply

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