My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (2024)

My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (1)

by Angela Gallardoin Fermented, Recipes,


My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (2)

One of the best things I eat for my health right now is fermented foods. Things like kombucha and kefir have become very popular. But for some reason, other lacto-fermented products have remained obscure. To read more about the lacto-fermentation process and the benefits of consuming fermented foods, see this post.

For now, we’ll be focusing on sauerkraut and why it’s much tastier than the stuff you’ve eaten on a hot dog (or hopefully you haven’t had the misfortune of that experience). Most store-bought sauerkraut is packed in a vinegar-based solution. The strength of the vinegar will preserve the cabbage but will not create live cultures like a homemade lacto-fermenting solution. And I’ve found that the vinegar degrades the cabbage much more than I’d like. Plus, why eat something as off-putting as store-bought sauerkrat when you’re not getting much nutritional benefit from it? You can find jarred sauerkraut with live cultures made in an authentic way but it’s generally just specialty markets or small-batch companies (aka, pricey).

Homemade sauerkraut has a distinctly different taste than most store-bought versions. You get the crunch (probably more-so) and the tangy edge. But it’s a milder edge and you can control the strength of the tang. You can also flavor your sauerkraut with any spices you like. It’s a very diverse food.

My favorite recipe is listed below. Garlic, cumin, and celery seed add a flavorful, savory profile. Warming the fermenting solution before pouring over the cabbage will bring out the flavors of the spices. This sauerkraut goes well with steak, chicken, eggs, or in salads.Kraut and eggs is one of my favorite combos! Plus it starts the day with beneficial gut bacteria right from the get-go.

Read more about the benefits of lacto-fermentation on the gut in this recent post.

My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (3)

Garlic Cumin Sauerkraut

Yields: 5 quarts

  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. whole celery seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2/3 c. sea salt*
  • 13-15 c. filtered water (will vary depending on size of your cabbage)
  • 2 heads organic green cabbage
  • dry goods: 5 quart jars, coffee filters (optional) and rubber bands


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the garlic, cumin seeds, celery seeds, black pepper, sea salt, and filtered water.
  2. Heat over medium heat until the water just begins to simmer, whisking occasionally to help dissolve the salt.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Peel the outer leaves of the cabbage and rinse well with a veggie wash.
  5. After cleaning, peel 2 large leaves from each head of cabbage and set them aside.
  6. Chop the remaining cabbage into manageable bite-size pieces (I like to use the shred or blade attachment on my food processor, saves A LOT of time).
  7. Pack the chopped cabbage very tightly into 5 sanitized glass quart jars. 2 heads of cabbage should fill 5 jars, give or take.
  8. From the cooled saltwater mix, move two garlic cloves into each of the jars.
  9. Portion the liquid between the 5 jars, tapping the jars once or twice to make the jars are filled.
  10. Tear a section from the reserved outer leaves (you’ll need to make sure you have 5 pieces total) and press into a jar, allowing it to submerge the chopped cabbage completely. Using your fingers, press the large piece down on the chopped cabbage until it’s submerged and you see bubbles rise to the surface.
  11. Do this once or twice until you no longer see bubbles rising.
  12. Repeat with remaining 4 jars.
  13. Cover each jar with a coffee filter and seal with a rubber band, as shown above.
  14. Leave at room temperature for 5-7 days to ferment (or longer if your house is on the cooler side).
  15. Test for taste at 3 or 4 days and press the top cabbage layer to remove bubbles that have formed from the fermentation process. The longer the jars are left out, the stronger the soured taste will be.
  16. Once it’s fermented to your liking, seal well with regular quart lids and move to the refrigerator.
  17. Fermented veggies keep for 3-6 months (sometimes longer!) when refrigerated because the cold slows the fermentation process dramatically.


1. A thick layer of cheesecloth can be substituted for the coffee filters but coffee filters are cheaper! You can also seal them with the regular jar lids instead but you’ll need to make sure the lids are not screwed on tight. Fermenting foods creates natural gases from the chemical reaction happening within the jar. These gases need room to escape and I’ve found that a coffee filter works best, while still keeping critters out. Also-using jar lids makes it hard to tell how much room there is for the gases to escape, occasionally resulting in too much pressure build-up and a consequent leak in the solution. AKA, a wet mess on your counter!

2. The amount of salt looks very high but trust it, it’s necessary for the fermentation process. The resulting sauerkraut will barely taste salty at all, as much of it is used up in the fermentation.

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  1. October 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I am heading to the farmer’s market now, and will be picking up cabbage to make this – thank you!! I miss my mom’s sauerkraut, and love the idea of adding cumin and celery seed!


    1. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (5)Angela Gallardo says:

      October 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      Jenn, thanks for sharing! I hope it’s very satisfying 🙂


  2. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (6)Jessica says:

    October 26, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I just made this from fresh cabbage out of our garden. It is delicious but a couple of the jars had tiny fuzzy spots on top of the cabbage and some turned darker than the others. This was the very first time I’ve made kraut so I have no idea why that happened.


    1. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (7)Angela Gallardo says:

      Hey Jessica! Thanks for sharing your experience with it. Fuzzy is usually not good. If it’s just at the top leaf that is exposed to air, chuck it and you’re probably fine. Best advice for avoiding fuzz is to try and get it as submerged as possible next time. They even sell glass weights you can place at the top of the jar to weigh things down.

      Dark spots on the cabbage or dark color liquid? Liquid-ok, spots on cabbage-not ok. Again, I’m guessing air exposure.

      Also, they shouldn’t be exposed to much light and preferably a room temperature 70-75F. Sun and heat will make the process go quicker and sometimes lead to mold. It should be ready in 5-7 days, if it takes less or more time than that, you need to adjust some variables. 🙂


  3. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (8)Cheryl says:

    March 31, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    is there a way to copy the recipe so I can put it in my recipe file


    1. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (9)Angela Gallardo says:

      March 31, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Hi Cheryl, I replied to your email about this. 🙂


  4. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (10)Nadir says:

    April 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Hi there! Reading you from Spain, I just found this wonderful recipe… I am willing to try as soon as possible 😉 But I have a (probably) silly question… What do you mean when you write 2/3 c. sea salt or 15 c. water? Cups? For water it seems logical to me, but for salt I am not so sure…is that two thirds of a cup? Is it not much?

    Thanks a lot! Cheers!!


  5. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (11)Nadir says:

    April 21, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Oh, ohhh, I have just read again the whole recipe, and found that you say that all that salt is necessary for the fermentation process… Sorry for my other comment ;-/

    I have my shopping list ready! Let’s start fermenting 😉


    1. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (12)Angela Gallardo says:

      April 21, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      No worries, Nadir! 🙂 You are not the first to ask that question so I’m going to add some clarification next to the ⅔ c. measurement so others don’t have the same problem in the future. Good luck with your fermentation!


  6. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (13)Mike says:

    November 6, 2014 at 2:23 am

    Actually you only need about 1-2 Tablespoons of salt per head of cabbage. So 2/3 Cup does sound like a lot. I have never had a problem with a lack of fermentation using this ratio.


    1. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (14)Angela Gallardo says:

      November 6, 2014 at 4:08 am

      Hey Mike, I actually always use the ratio of 2-3 tablespoons of sea salt per quart of water. I don’t gauge it by the amount of veg I’m using or I may have different salt:water ratios all the time depending on how small I’ve chopped and how tight I pack the veg.


  7. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (15)Helen says:

    November 6, 2014 at 4:58 am

    This is a great sauerkraut recipe, Angela. A friend of mine tasted it and said, "You knocked it out of the park with this one!" Second opinion from a text, "Holy sh*t that kraut is good."


    1. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (16)Angela Gallardo says:

      November 11, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Helen, that is the biggest compliment I think I could ask for!


  8. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (17)Jenny says:

    November 28, 2014 at 2:26 am

    Hi Angela from Melbourne Aus 2T 2 tablespoons or 2 teaspoons ???


    1. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (18)Angela Gallardo says:

      November 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Hi Jenny, capital T. is tablespoons (lowercase t. would be teaspoons).


  9. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (19)Jane says:

    February 18, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Can this recipe be canned in a hot water bath


    1. February 21, 2018 at 7:21 am

      If you want a shelf stable (non-refrigerated) kraut, I’d search out a recipe with vinegar. Water bath canning is a high enough heat that it will kill the beneficial bacteria present fermented foods.


  10. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (21)Shelley Hansen says:

    October 22, 2018 at 8:23 am

    My cranberry ferment is quite active. Very bubbly and needs the occasional burping. My question is… should it smell like strong rotting fruit? Like the smell of bad apples on the ground. I don’t even know if what I am saying makes sense.


    1. October 24, 2018 at 4:12 am

      Hey Shelley, that does make sense. And no, I don’t think it should smell that way… :/ Did you use honey that you’re positive was raw? If not, it wouldn’t work to preserve and you’ll get a growth of bad bacteria rather than good.


  11. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (23)Kylee says:

    April 1, 2020 at 12:34 am

    My jars are on their 5th day on my counter. I’ve been finding it a bit tricky to keep the cabbage down and air out. Is it normal for the liquid to look a bit cloudy?


    1. May 20, 2020 at 5:37 am

      Hi Kylee! Sorry for the delay. Yes, cloudiness is very common. I hope the kraut turned out well 🙂


  12. My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (25)Helen Goché says:

    July 15, 2021 at 8:49 am

    Angela, I know I already said how much everyone loves your sauerkraut recipe a few years ago. I just now posted a link on the Eugene Area Gleaners Facebook page. So you can expect even more compliments!


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My Favorite Sauerkraut Recipe • Bare Root Girl (2024)


What's the best seasoning for sauerkraut? ›

Ten Delicious Kraut Additions
  1. Juniper Berries. Small and dark, these little raisin-sized berries pack a flavor punch. ...
  2. Beets. Peeled and grated or thinly sliced, even a tiny bit of beet stains the whole ferment fuchsia. ...
  3. Ginger. ...
  4. Lemon Peel. ...
  5. Dill. ...
  6. Caraway Seed. ...
  7. Fennel. ...
  8. Celery Root (celeriac)

Does sauerkraut lower blood pressure? ›

Sauerkraut may contribute to a healthier heart. That's because it contains a good amount of fiber and probiotics, both of which may help reduce cholesterol levels. Probiotics such as those found in sauerkraut may also help lower blood pressure slightly in people with hypertension.

Is it OK to use iodized salt for sauerkraut? ›

Salt: Use non—iodized salt with no added anti—caking agents for best quality. Salt helps form the brine and acts as a preservative. Salt causes the cabbage cells to release fermentable sugars and inhibits growth of undesirable yeasts, molds, and bacteria.

What kind of cabbage makes the best sauerkraut? ›

Danish Ballhead, Late Flat Head and Premium Late Dutch are good cabbage varieties for sauerkraut. Krautman is one of the most popular varieties for making sauerkraut, and growers are encouraged to try new varieties as well.

What herbs are good in sauerkraut? ›

Some people like to flavor their sauerkraut with herbs such as dill or caraway seeds. You can also add other veggies such as carrots, garlic, or ginger.

What can I add to sauerkraut for taste? ›

Sprinkle in spices and aromatics

When we're talking about sauerkraut, the most traditional spices and aromatics come from anise-like caraway seeds, bay leaves, and the distinctive spicily earthy juniper berries. Those are all good options, and a lot of recipes call for them.

When should you not eat sauerkraut? ›

If you're pregnant or immunocompromised, you should avoid eating unpasteurized sauerkraut. If you take MAOIs, have blood pressure concerns, or have food intolerances or allergies, speak to your doctor before eating sauerkraut. Otherwise, sauerkraut is likely to be a nutritious and healthy addition to your diet.

What does sauerkraut do to your bowels? ›

Improve Digestion

One serving of sauerkraut has two grams of fiber — a nutrient known to aid with digestion. For people with constipation, fiber increases the weight and size of their stool and softens it, making it easier to pass. For people with diarrhea, fiber can absorb excess water and solidify their stool.

Does sauerkraut clean arteries? ›

May support heart health

Cabbage is a good source of potassium, that and the probiotic content may promote lower blood pressure. Sauerkraut is also a source of vitamin K2 which helps prevent calcium deposits from accumulating in arteries, a possible cause of atherosclerosis.

Is pink Himalayan salt good for sauerkraut? ›

We recommend Himalayan Pink Salt for use in fermenting due to its mineral-rich profile, being less processed than other salts (meaning no chemicals went into the production of the salt). Salt is not only a factor in taste; it also affects the texture of your sauerkraut.

Which salt is best for sauerkraut? ›

However, do check your salt doesn't contain chemical anti-caking agents which might affect the fermentation. Try fine sea salt, or Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. The Spices - spices are used for flavour, and they can also help to slow mould growth. Caraway seeds are popular in traditional Polish sauerkraut making.

Is sea salt OK for sauerkraut? ›

Salt quality is important — never use iodized salt, and take care to use salt that has no additives. Sea salt works well, or rock salt. Watch out for the salt labelled 'pickling salt', it often has anti-caking agents in it which can negatively affect your fermentation.

Which is better canned or bagged sauerkraut? ›

In order to reap the probiotic health benefits of sauerkraut, buy refrigerated sauerkraut available in bags or pouches instead of in cans or jars. Avoid sauerkraut that has vinegar or sweeteners.

What is the best jar for fermenting cabbage? ›

Mason Jar. A plain old Mason jar can do the trick when it comes to fermentation. Make sure you're generally working with a wide-mouth jar (I like to use these half-gallon-sized jars). This is important because you want to be able to get things in and out with ease, so a narrow-mouth jar can be difficult.

How many pounds of cabbage do I need for sauerkraut? ›

Shred or slice cabbage to a thickness of one to two quarters, or to inch. Place 5 pounds of shredded cabbage in the fermentation container and thoroughly mix in 3 tablespoons of canning or pickling salt. Pack it with clean hands until the level of natural juices drawn from the cabbage covers its surface.

What kind of salt is best for sauerkraut? ›

Try fine sea salt, or Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. The Spices - spices are used for flavour, and they can also help to slow mould growth. Caraway seeds are popular in traditional Polish sauerkraut making.

Should I add vinegar to my sauerkraut? ›

No need to add any vinegar! Salt alone preserves sour cabbage very well. I add 1/4 cup of shredded carrot for colour. Sometimes, I add a laurel leaf and 1/2 teaspoon of caraway seeds.

What should homemade sauerkraut taste like? ›

It's salty and sour (more so the longer it ferments), but not funky, fishy, spicy, or super sweet. Sure, some recipes call for the addition of spices like juniper berries and caraway seeds, or celery seed and onion powder.

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