A green bowl of sauerkraut garnished with apples

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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.

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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
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Enjoy!

Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe (Kvashenaya Kapusta)

4.97 from 30 votes
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 8 cups

Ingredients for Homemade Sauerkraut:

  • 2 medium/large cabbages, 2 1/2 kg or about 5 1/2 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:

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

    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

    Instructions

    How to Make Russian Sauerkraut:

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Scrunch it until juices start to come out.
    • 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.
    • 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 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
      Course: Condiments
      Cuisine: American
      Keyword: Homemade Sauerkraut
      Skill Level: Easy
      Cost to Make: $
      Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

      Natasha Kravchuk

      Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the creator behind Natasha's Kitchen (established in 2009), and I share family-friendly, authentic recipes. I am a New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author and a trusted video personality in the culinary world. My husband, Vadim, and I run this blog together, ensuring every recipe we share is thoroughly tested and approved. Our mission is to provide you with delicious, reliable recipes you can count on. Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy you are here.

      Read more posts by Natasha

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      Recipe Rating




      Comments

      • Luda
        October 16, 2023

        My mom always made this and it was delicious! She’s since passed away so I’m excited to have found this recipe. I’ve just finished the first several steps and can’t wait to try the finished product. I have a question for you, the last photo in the refrigerator, the jar is next to a jar that looks like a salsa, what is that?

        Reply

      • Donna J. Berkley
        March 4, 2023

        Natasha,
        Love your Recipes ! Question about the sauerkraut … can you substitute a sugar replacement ? I’d like to try one of your recipes as a side vegetable for my diet plan which excludes sugar.

        Reply

        • Natashas Kitchen
          March 6, 2023

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

          Reply

      • Alla
        May 12, 2022

        Can I do this with white and red cabbage? I have never seen it done but always wondered. Also can I use a plastic pail?

        Reply

        • Natasha's Kitchen
          May 12, 2022

          Hi Alla, I haven’t tried that to advise but I think it’s worth trying. If you do an experiment, please share with us how it goes.

          Reply

        • Eric Wyss Storm
          November 5, 2023

          I have done it with red cabbage. Here in Denmark red cabbage is traditional for Christmas – so they are easy to get.
          It tastes fantastic and on top af the c-vitamins that you get from the cabbage, they are also rich in antioxidants.

          Reply

      • Lauren
        March 16, 2021

        Using my first batch of homemade sauerkraut for dinner tonight. Even though I left out carrots in this first batch it’s excellent. That vintage countertop fermenting crock I found at Etsy will be getting a workout!

        Reply

        • Natashas Kitchen
          March 16, 2021

          I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

          Reply

      • Lilla Kastel
        July 15, 2020

        I don’t commonly comment but I gotta tell thankyou for the post on this perfect one : D.

        Reply

        • Natasha's Kitchen
          July 15, 2020

          You’re welcome!

          Reply

          • Diana
            May 31, 2022

            Thanks for the recipe! I bought some cabbage at the grocery store to try this, I’m wondering if I should wash it, or will that rinse away the good bacteria that makes this ferment?

            Reply

            • Natasha's Kitchen
              June 1, 2022

              Hi Diana, to be safe, remove the thick outer leaves, and rinse them in a colander under running water.

              Reply

      • Jeannie
        August 24, 2019

        I boiled a head of cabbage for rolls and didn’t use all of it, can I make sauerkraut with it tomorrow

        Reply

        • Natashas Kitchen
          August 24, 2019

          Hi Jeannie, I haven’t tested it with leftovers like that but I think it could work. If you experiment, let me know how you liked the recipe.

          Reply

        • Cabbage Head
          June 4, 2020

          Do not use boiled cabbage. The good bacteria that live on the raw cabbage will be destroyed by boiling, so you won’t get any fermentation and will just end up with stinky cabbage water.

          Reply

      • Leah
        July 28, 2019

        I’m curious about why you say to store it for only a few weeks. I’ve made your sauerkraut recipe (and others as well). Your recipe was great…I loved the addition of carrots. But if I’m using my garden vegetables to made sauerkraut batches, I want to store them for use into the winter.

        Have you heard of others (or tried yourself) using any other ways of saving this recipe for longer? Canning? Freezing?

        Reply

        • Natasha
          July 29, 2019

          Hi Leah, we haven’t tried canning or freezing this so I can’t speak to that. If anyone else has any thoughts on that, please let us know and thank you in advance!

          Reply

          • Cabbage Head
            June 4, 2020

            I was reading “Wild Fermentation” and he suggests you could boil it and can it to keep it shelf stable, but then you kill off the probiotics. You should probably wait until it’s reached it’s full sourness (4 weeks) before trying that though.

            Reply

        • Olga
          December 13, 2019

          You can definitely leave the saurcraut fermenting on the table for additional 3-6 weeks. It will be a lot healthier—packed with way more probiotics, but a lot more sour as well (which doesn’t mean it’s gone bad). After that you can put it in the fridge and it will stay there for much longer.

          Reply

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