Red Cabbage Sauerkraut — 127 Comments

  1. Wow, 2-3 weeks! Unless those spices slow it down, you must really like it sour! I start refridgerating and eating mine after 3-4 days. I usually do more of a curtido, with carrots, a little onion, a couple chilis and oregano added to the cabbage. I will try this recipe though, juniper and carroway sounds nice!

    • You are missing out on the important second ferment. It may taste fine, but the health benefits are not there if you only let it sit a couple of days. I ferment mine for 12 weeks and its not any more sour than its after 1 week but the probiotic bacteria count has increased by millions.

        • Yes… but remember what the bacteria are producing besides acid. Dead bacteria…. Millions per gram of cabbage, contain very digestible compounds. This biomass is one of the hidden pluses of a fermented product.

    • Fermentation requires 3 stages. After 3-4 days you haven’t even completed the first stage. Going through all stages insures that any unwanted bacteria has been killed. It takes at least 3 weeks to go through all 3 stages. I let mine ferment for at least 6 weeks, if not longer.

      • After trying the Red Sauerkraut I will never go back to the green…SOOOO Good! And I read 7X more nutritious.

        • If I don’t have the seeds and berries, does it affect the fermentation or simply the taste? I live overseas where these aren’t available.

    • Anyway it continues to ferment a bit in the fridge!
      Mine is also ready after 2 – 3. Days! I live in Oman where it’s hot so it ferments too quick!
      However it’s perfect now in Jan Feb when it’s cooler!

  2. Is there an alternative berry I could use…I have never seen juniper berries for sale at any of my grocery stores. Thank you for the recipe!

      • They aren’t on the shelves here (I live in Wyoming & other than in Jackson Hole we’re a bit behind the times unfortunately…don’t get me wrong though, I LOVE my state.) I will check on the mountain for fresh and look online for dried juniper berries. Thanks for the tips!

        • At least you live in one of the most beautiful places in America. I love Wyoming. You’ll be fine making Sauerkraut without Juniper Berries too, but it is a traditionally used ingredient. Good luck!

          • Yes I do! I love my home state too, its an amazing place. Okay…I will try to find them online if I can’t I’ll just omit it. If I like the recipe I will just have to plant some juniper bushes next year. Thanks so much for your help!

    • I’ve used allspice berries instead in pickling and fermenting recipes. The juniper berries add a flavor that makes me think of an evergreen tree. The allspice berries add a flavor most palates are more familiar with. I bought some juniper berries on Amazon in bulk. Now I wish I’d just stayed with Allspice berries.

  3. I’ve never made sauerkraut before and was looking for some recipes. Yours looks and sounds delicious, I’ll know in a few weeks. By the way, I was quite surprised to learn you’re in FB, I’m in Point Arena. Small world isn’t it!

  4. Hi Ted

    I’ve been diagnosed with gastro reflux that affects my throat too.
    I love fermented food like kimchee and pickles especially ginger and lime pickles.

    Would eating them aggravate my condition? The doctor did say I need to avoid hot, spicy and oily food – that leaves me with boiled and steamed dishes options.

  5. Hi Ted

    Tq for the reply.
    I find that pickle ginger soothe my throat while citrus drinks make me difficult to swalloW.

    I’ll drop by again sometime to update you with my progress (bought some napa cabbage & kale to make kimchee and purple cabbage to try your sauerkraut recipe today).


  6. I have just been advised to eat sauerkraut and kimchi to cure my acid reflux – i have been on drugs for 3 years – which tho they helped, have wiped out my gut bacteria – so tho I have always HATED sauerkraut, I am now loving it – and if `i feel a reflux coming – a spoonful sorts it out very swiftly, quite amazing. Soused herrings are good for it too.
    – but I am having trouble with my first attempt – making the easy red kraut….maybe my jar is too small, and I think I didnt keep the air out properly – if a little hairy mould appears on top – does that mean I have to throw it all out???

    • If a hairy mold starts to grow, I would recommend throwing it out. If you are more daring as I tend to be, you can remove the moldy layer, then mix it all up again and see if the mold comes back In a few days. If it doesn’t, you’re probably fine.

      • I have that hairy stuff on top of my kraut, what causes that.. This is my first attempt, think I’ll be brave as you are & remove the moldy layer.

        • “Hairy is scary!” Maybe my new fermentation mantra. I’m often brave w my ferments but you have to make your own judgment. Yeast I generally skim off, but hairy mold is often grounds for tossing in my book. Good luck!

  7. My first batch I left to ferment five months…. really, really, really good. My second batch (that I’m currently waiting on will go for six.

  8. I read that ferment times can be as little as two weeks. My first batch went for five months… so good. I’m currently working on my second batch and I;m going to let it go for six. I read that one person had a batch that had been overlooked in a cellar. Said it had been put up in 1999 ( I think the post was made in 2014.) Said it looked good (had been put up in jars) so they tried it. Said it was the best EVER.

  9. Hi Ted, I have followed your instructions but I am not getting much liquid after 12 hours of compressing the cabbage and spice mix. My cabbage is home grown red cabbage, the salt I used is coarse Celtic sea salt. Am I doing anything wrong?

    • It’s hard to know for sure if you’re doing something wrong. Since the salt is coarse, it won’t have as much surface area contact. Have you tossed your ingredients around now that it’s been sitting for awhile? This would ensure that the salt would dissolve and then have an ability to impact more of the cabbage as far as how much water is being released.

      Did you use more salt since you used coarse salt. I have a note in my post: which mentions this: “Please note regarding the use of kosher salt – when measurements in Tablespoons are used in this article, that the salt used is a normal grained sea salt or table salt. For courser grained salts such as kosher salt, there is less salt by volume since there is more room for air between the grains. This of course depends on the size of the grain, but a good rule of thumb is that if you are using kosher salt, use 25% more by volume.” Perhaps you need a little more salt?

      It’s also possible that your cabbage simply isn’t as dense and heavy with water as other cabbages are. If you salt quantity is good and it’s been sitting awhile, you can always add more water. No need to add salty water as the salt you’ve initially added should dilute and disseminate throughout the ferment.

      Hope that helps! Good luck. Report back if you can.

  10. I read in so many recipes that you were only supposed to use canning/ pickling salt, Kosher salt or sea salt… NEVER table salt because of all the additives.

    • Good point Mike on the salt. I’m sure you can get away with using table salt, but it does have additives which are better avoided. I always use sea salt in my ferments. Some sea salts are an excellent source of trace minerals which are good to ingest as well.

    • It’s hard to say. Is the entire kraut turning brown or just the surface. If it’s the surface, then it may be oxidizing some. Is there Iron in your water? The Iron can oxidize too which might turn things brown. Any other details would be helpful.

  11. Wow, I wasn’t aware there were any nutritional differences between green and red cabbage. That’s really interesting! In my opinion, there’s few foods tastier than naturally fermented sauerkraut; I definitely need to try your recipe.

  12. Can you give the cabbage amount by weight? The red cabbage at my supermarket is huge, but the red cabbage that is locally grown at my co op is pretty small, so two heads of large vs two heads of small would make a big difference.

    • Good point. My suggestion is to use approximately 1 TBSP of salt to every 1 1/2 pounds of veggies. You can weigh your own cabbage and add salt in that ratio. Good luck!

  13. Oh my! This is so good. Fermented for about 3 1/2 weeks in a clear cookie jar. Used a 1 gallon zip lock bag as a weight. It looked very nice sitting on the counter with that deep purple color. It is a big hit with everyone who has tried it. Makes a nice side dish (cold) or even just as a snack. Thank you for this recipe.

    • Thanks Michael. This recipe now has a print option attached to it. I’ve been slowly migrating all of my recipes to a more printer friendly format and now this one has it too!

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  15. It has been two weeks and my kraut is has been fermenting, but it is so salty….I have an idea, can I add more cabbage at this point and allow it to ferment with the first batch and not add as much salt?

    • That should be fine. You’ll need to leave it a couple of weeks more. The other option is to take out half of the cabbage and rinse it off in a colander and then put it back in. You ncan also pour out part of the liquid and replace with unsalted water. Good luck!

  16. Hi Ted, Picked my first home-grown red cabbage today! Anxious to try your recipe but where do I get Juniper berries and can I substitute with another type? Thanks again…

    • Juniper berries may be growing in your neighborhood as they are quite commonly used as hedges for landscaping. You’ll need to do your own research to identify them. Here’s a link to some on Amazon if that’s helpful: My local small grocery has them in bulk so yours might too. The berries aren’t critical to the fermentation but they do add flavor. In other words, you can do without them if you like and add other spices which might please your palate.

    • Juniper berries may be growing in your neighborhood as they are quite commonly used as hedges for landscaping. You’ll need to do your own research to identify them. Here’s a link to some on Amazon if that’s helpful: My local small grocery has them in bulk so yours might too. The berries aren’t critical to the fermentation but they do add flavor. In other words, you can do without them if you like and add other spices which might please your palate.

  17. Hi.
    When the kraut is transferred to the fridge, does the brine level need to cover it? Without a weight, mine is exposed to the air in the jar. Is that ok?
    Thanks & BTW I love it. Tastes amazing.

    • Saz, I wouldn’t worry about it too much if you’re going to be using it. The cold of the fridge, the salt, and the acidity that have developed will protect it fine for a few weeks or even months. If you are storing it more long term it’s more important you have have the layer of brine, or alternately a blanket of CO2 which will have developed during fermentation (a fido jar is an easy way to maintain that).

  18. hi ted! with the leftover juice, providing it has the right ingredients to begin with, Is this how you can make fire cider or tonic for fighting cold/flu ailments?

    • It’s not a typo, but I can’t fully vouch for it’s accuracy. I use a service that automatically converts recipes to their nutritional value. It’s definitely not “added” sugar, but likely reflects the natural sugars in Cabbage. My hunch says that the fermentation process consumes those sugars so that 15.98 number you refer to is likely high.

      • Wow I figured cabbage must have sugar but had no idea it was that much. Sure enough I looked it up and a medium sized cabbage has 29g! 1 cup of sauerkraut has 2.5g.

  19. I’ve been making sauerkraut for years. I always canned it never even thinking about killing off all the probiotics. I saw this recipe and decided to try it. I picked a handful of juniper berries off my tree and washed them. I had to add a little extra water so also added a little extra salt. After about a week I saw a little white mold around the edges. I cleaned that but then the whole top started molding. I had to throw the whole thing out. Evidently I got some type of contamination. Just curious if it might have been the fresh juniper berries or should I have boiled the water before adding? We are on well water. Thank you Ted for the great website. PS I made the kimchi and currently have dill pickles going, both with no issues.

    • hi Betty, my hunch is that the Juniper berries perhaps harbored a mold or perhaps more likely a natural yeast on them which somehow took hold in your ferment. I doubt your well water would be contaminated with either a yeast or mold.

  20. When I make sauerkraut I MASSAGE it before putting it in the crock. It makes it go limp and really brings out the juice!

  21. Hello. Can I grind or at least “crack” (halve) the juniper berries? I like their flavor in the food but biting into a whole berry can be a bit too strong.

  22. This looks delicious! I’m definitely going to try it! I just made up a gallon tonight of a mixture of purple and green cabbages, radishes, jalapenos, cilantro, and lime. It’s kind of my go-to mixture.

  23. Thank you for the recipe! Especially the comments on pH, this was so helpful for a science experiment on salt’s effect on sauerkraut!

  24. Sounds like a great idea. I’ll try that too! You can bottle up excess liquid once the ferment is done and drink it as a probiotic shot if you like the flavor. Enjoy…

  25. Hi, I’ve just made this , as my first sauerkraut recipe. Very excited. I have a daft question. If I rinse the end product, will I be washing away all the fermentation required to help the gut!.?

    • Rinding your sauerkraut wouldn’t remove all the probiotics, no. I’m sure the cabbage itself would still have plenty of probiotic bacteria infused into it. The cabbage also has merit for your gut in that it contains fiber and food for the healthy bacteria in your gut.

      Why are you asking about rinsing?

  26. HI there! I’m making sauerkraut for the very first time and using this recipe. Very excited to see how this turns out!

    I don’t have a fermenting crock (Yet, just ordered one!), so I had to use whatever I had in my kitchen(a cast iron pot with a lid. After trying to get as much water to leach out (let sit overnight) it did not have enough to cover the cabbage, so I added the water as instructed and stirred and then I made it level again. I put a piece of cheesecloth over it and tucked in the sides (as I’ve seen on other recipes), and then put the bag of water on top for a weight. Then I put the lid on over that. I see some water come up around the bag of water. Did I use too heavy of a bag? Or shouldI empty some of the water out? Or is it ok and I”m worried over nothing?

    Also, with the way I’m doing it, I’m guessing I’ll have to skim some growth off the top after a few weeks.

    • Sounds like you are right on track. I hadn’t seen the cheesecloth trick before but sounds good. Everything should be fine. I wouldn’t worry about the excess liquid. You might want to get a sauerkraut “pounder” like the “pickle Packer” or similar. It makes compressing the sauerkraut easier and thus easier to get the liquid level to rise.

    • I’d be more concerned about having something acidic in a cast iron pot for several weeks. You’re not supposed to cook acidic foods in cast iron, which is at most a few hours, nevermind having something acidic in it for weeks. I don’t know if the iron leaching into the sauerkraut is a health concern, but it may well be, but it will certainly be bad for your pot. It will destroy any seasoning you have on it, and may well begin to straight up rust.

      • Hi Eric S., I am using a Dutch oven pot that is enameled. So it’s not cast iron, per se. My bad for saying cast iron.

  27. I am wondering if you have suggestions for avoiding Kahm yeast in my ferments. I had quite a bit of trouble with it last year, and as a result find myself being reluctant to start up ferment projects this season. Many thanks for all of your wonderful recipes and information sharing! K

    • Hi Kate. Are you using a fermenting crock or an airlock on a mason jar? The best defense is one of those methods, but they aren’t foolproof. I get Kahm yeast growth occasionally in my ferments and when I see it, I generally do my best to remove it (spoon, paper towel, etc.) and then keep the ferment going. Usually the yeast doesn’t cause me to trash the ferment.

      • Thanks for the info. I got kahm yeast in ferments twice last year.
        Is it in the air, or is it something that particular kitchens or areas are prone to?
        I will try airlocks on mason jars. I’m making dilly beans next!

        • If you use a fido jar you don’t need an airlock. The blanket of carbon dioxide builds up over the surface protects it, and excess pressure just forces it’s way out of the gasket. I’ve never had a problem with yeast or mold with this method.

  28. Hi there! So my red cabbage is finished and in the fridge. I noticed though that the liquid that used to be higher than the cabbage is now being soaked up. It appears it is only half full of liquid now. What should I do?

    • Is your kid a tight fitting lid? If not the moisture may be evaporating. If you compress the sauerkraut again into the bottom of the jar, the liquid should rise up again. You can always top with a little water which is best if mixed through the sauerkraut so the water would be mixed with more acidic salty liquid. Good luck!

  29. Hi there, I just bought a huge red cabbage from the fruit shop for just $2! I am looking for ways to use it and found your recipe and I would like to try to make my first red cabbage sauerkraut! It seems that all that is required in the recipe is salt and spices (juniper berries and caraway seeds), so no vinegar is required? I cannot find juniper berries in the local supermarkets in Australia, can I just use some all spice powder, black peppercorn or something else instead?

    • You can drop the juniper berries and it should come out fine. Other spices can always be added if you think you’ll like the flavor nuances. $2 for a giant cabbage is an incredible price. I just picked up a couple of beautiful red cabbages at my local farmer’s market and fired up a new batch too. Good luck!

    • It will keep fairly indefinitely in the fridge, just slowly growing more tart over time. If mold appears or texture gets mushy, it’s days are over. Always use your own judgment.

  30. Hi There,
    I’ve been fermenting for a couple years now, thanks to this website! It’s an awesome resource that got me started. I’ve made probably three dozen batches, using 7 or 8 recipes on this site. My favorite is the recipe under which I’m posting, the red cabbage. Which leads into my question…
    Whenever I consume this sauerkraut, I just crunch through the juniper berries with my teeth. Is that what everyone else does too? The reason I ask, is, I’m considering giving jars of this sauerkraut to family and friends for gifts. Should I warn them to remove the juniper berries, or is it expected that everyone eats them?
    PS… In future recipes, could they be ground up, or would that make the kraut kind of gritty.

  31. Can the sauerkraut be canned after fermentation, in water bath canner, to allow for a food safe shelf stable storage? Is the acidity level sufficiently high enough after fermentation for shelf stable storage, and if so, recommended canning processing time length?

  32. Thanks for letting me steal your recipe! 🙂
    I have ONE head of Red Cabbage in my raised bed garden and I’m going to experiment with turning it into Sour Kraut.

    So here is a little gift for you and your readers. Believe it or not, you can actually check your soil Ph using Red Cabbage! And at this link there are other ways listed for that process.

  33. The way I was taught was to layer and salt, layer and salt, and so on.The recipe that is popular here in MI. is to mix with onions and beets. I just like it by itself, and the more sour the better. I have seen types of kraut made in wooden crocks. How is this done? It is a more spicy flavor,and sounds like a European way to make it. Anyone know what kind of wood barrel to use? I used to buy kraut juice at the store for drinking,but it has vanished just like really sour pickles did. A small pinch of dill added may find favor with some also.

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  35. I noticed that your fermenting crock has a deep channel where the lid fits in. With this kind of crock you need to keep it filled with brine and it becomes air-tight. As the gases escape, more brine is sucked inside and this prevents any chance of airborne molds and bacteria getting in there. There’s no need for a cloth. I have found is important to empty out and dry the channel every week and refill with fresh brine. I think there are instructions that come with the crock that explains this.
    I like the idea of the digital pH meter! Last year it seemed to have taken forever to get it to be sour enough for me.

    • I don’t think you need to fill the most in the crock with brine. I’ve just used water. Brine is probably safer if you’re not careful when removing the lid and thus drip into your ferment. Thanks!

  36. Oh wow, I see this thread has been going since 2013! And you’re still responding! Thank you. I’m starting my first batch today and I have two questions. 1) Once fermented, should I be eating the kraut cold? Would heating it destroy all the good stuff? 2) Does the fermentation process reduce the number of carbs? (I am hoping!)

    • Hi Karen. Good questions. Heating the sauerkraut would kill the probiotic bacteria, but that’s not the only good stuff in sauerkraut. Simply eating cabbage provides other nutrients and also fiber which are part of a healthy diet. Personally I rarely heat my sauerkraut. Occasionally I’ll toss some in my fried rice or mix some in a filling when I make dumplings which I then cook. My advice (unbidden I know) is to simply enjoy your food in whatever ways make healthy eating enjoyable. Healthy eating is not so much about eating all the perfect foods in the perfect ways as it is about avoiding foods that are detrimental to health. I don’t know the answer to your question about carbs after fermentation, but if raw fermented cabbage is considered bad because of carb content, then we are likely judging foods by the wrong criteria. Enjoy…

  37. if anybody is still out there I read above that this recipe has 31 g carbs per serve and a lot of sugar I am sort of following KETO so are these numbers correct I thought cabbage was a super low carb green non starchie vege

    • Hey Nik, you were right, those numbers were off. There was a tool on the site that had incorrectly calculated the nutrition info on the recipe. You’ll see now about 3.3g of carbs per serving. That’s much more like it. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

  38. Lots of great ideas here. Look for very fresh cabbage, even better grow your own. Older cabbage, tends to lose its water content and you will end up having to add some brine/water at the end to make sure the cabbage is covered. If you do not crush the cabbage long enough it may well release the excess water and things will over flow. Take your time and pound the cabbage well and let it sit and repeat a few more times.
    I happen to love red onions and usually thinly slice one onion and add the slices to the cabbage. I also often ferment a quart of thinly sliced Jalapenos and add them to tacos, sandwiches or salads. Also very tasty on a cracker with cream cheese. The fermenting helps reduce the heat of the pepper.
    I also put a mason jar on a large leaf of the cabbage and cut out a circle the size of the jar. At the end, I put the cabbage circle on top of the packed kraut, add the weight and any necessary liquid and put on the lid with vent. This helps keep air away from any of the cabbage while it ferments if you don’t have an airlock arrangement.

    • ooooh! Green Mango. Hadn’t thought of that but it’s a great idea. And beets too. With the sugar content in both of those I imagine that would be an active fermentation!

  39. Hi there, I have just begun my fermentation journey and starting with this lovely red cabbage recipe. As I’m a newbie I don’t have all the gear so have used an old large (approx 2.5L) pickle jar. I have seen other recipes where they tell you to only loosely put the lid on the jar? I had put mine on tightly after weighing with the bag of water as per your method, is that the right thing to have done? or will too much pressure build in the jar?

  40. Wondering what type of probiotics are growing in the sour kraut? I’m very new at this in fact i’ve never formented anything – yet. Trying to understand since I’m familiar with probiotics but thought they usually came from a culture like you’d get from making yogurt, buttermilk or Lassi. Thank you for this wonderful education with the recipe and reason all the comments. I’m can hardly wait to try it.

    • Definitely no need to add any starter/probiotics to sauerkraut when making. The necessary bacteria exist in the cabbage itself and proliferates over time during the fermentation. There are stages to the fermentation wherein different bacteria become dominant at different times. Best of luck!

  41. Hi Ted,

    Last night, I did exactly what you said, and within 40 minutes the cabbage was sweating, so then I pressed the cabbage down into the mason jars and within minutes they were submerged in their own liquids. Thank you for your advisement.

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