Kraut – Homestyle

Kraut is one of my favorite things to make.  It’s a low cost food that builds the immune system and heals the gut.  The ancient process of fermentation creates healthy bacteria that will flood out the bad bacteria in the gut, thus creating a healthy gut flora.  When we have healthy gut flora, we are able to stave off all kinds of flus, illnesses and general malaise. Kraut has so many healthful benefits!

Who woulda thunk the ancients knew how to do anything smart or beneficial?

I realized  as I sat down to create this entry, that it was exactly 2 years ago today that I made my first kraut!  I always make a mess when I’m in the kitchen, but the cabbage just seemed to explode on me that day!  I had done a lot of research and decided to make a kraut based on the Healey Cole Slaw.  The Healey Slaw vs. The Adams Slaw (my mother’s side) is a topic of discussion at every Thanksgiving.  Who makes the best slaw and which side everyone stands on.  I can’t say that I’ve ever been entrusted with the whole recipe, but I knew it had cabbage, pineapple and celery seed!

Purple Kraut
My First Kraut

I found two Facebook pages, Wild Fermentation and Fermenter’s Kitchen, which I scoured for days on end trying to understand how to make kraut and what to expect in the process. I’m not sure why I didn’t just make a basic kraut first!  I spent weeks trying to make sure I knew what I was doing before I did it. When I finally got everything sliced up in and in the crock, I started banging the heck out of it!  They sell kraut pounders for a reason, right? Yeah, that’s where the mess came from! My hands hurt so bad from all the squeezing and pounding!  After 2 years of slicing and pounding kraut, I have discovered a simple, less messy and pain-free way!

With all the research, I discovered that there are many salts, jars, and accessories that people use to make their kraut.  You will need to do some experimenting to find what works best for you, but I use very simple things in my process.

Cabbage, Dill, Garlic, Himalayan Salt

SALT:  You want a good healthy salt.  Himilayan Salt is one of the best, if not THE best, salt out there, in my opinion.  Not only does it season well, but it has 80+ trace minerals your body needs to function properly.  Sea Salt can be good, but there has been radiation leaking into the Pacific Ocean so be aware of the sea salt you are using and where it comes from.

AVOID TABLE SALT AT ALL COSTS.  It is not good for consumption in any form.  If you have some, use it for cleaning or throw it out.  Do not eat it.

CONTAINERS:  What do you ferment your kraut in?  I started out with a crock that I happened to have and mason jars.  I then changed to the flip top Fido Jars.  If you use Fido Jars, only use the Italian or French versions.  The jars made in China or elsewhere often have lead in the glass.  You do not want lead leaching into your healthy ferment!


Fido Jar
Purple KrautII
Mason Jar

A dear friend recently bought me a Fermentation Crock for my birthday and I put the kraut I made for this post in it! She just gets me.

Fermentation Crock


WEIGHTS/LIDS:  The type of container you use will determine the type of weights you may or may not need.  Weights are needed to keep the cabbage below the brine.  Otherwise mold will grow and the kraut will be worthless. (I know, I did it.)  If there is a white film, that is kahm yeast and can be wiped off.  If it’s furry, doesn’t matter the color, toss the whole thing.  Mold has tentacles that can grow deep into the food and mycotoxins can cause serious  issues.  If it doubt, throw it out!

Fido jars: Weights not needed.  The lid style was created to allow off gassing only. Therefore, nothing can get into the jar while the clamp is closed.  Just push the kraut as far below the brine level as possible.  The top layer may brown some, but that’s not an issue.

Kraut in Fido Jar

Mason Jars: A smaller cup or jar, cabbage leaf, ramekin, or other commercial glass weights sold on the market.  The lid can be a regular canning lid screwed on loosely or coffee filter.

Crocks:  Crocks often come with weights and lids, as pictured, or you can use a plate that fits inside and one on top for the lid.

Crock weights


Kraut is made a gallon at a time in my house.  A gallon usually takes a bunch of salt, 5 cabbages, a package of fresh dill and 3-5 bulbs of garlic.  I was taught to make the liquid taste like the ocean.  If it’s too weak, add more salt.  If it’s too salty, it will just need to ferment longer.  This method has worked every single time.  I will post a chart below if you need to work with measurements.

Okay, so let’s get into the meat of making kraut!

Decide on the amount of kraut you want to make and go from there.  This is not an exact science.  There are just a few rules.

The brine must taste like the ocean.
Kraut MUST remain below the liquid at all times during the fermentation process!
Kraut MUST remain below the liquid at all times during the fermentation process!
Kraut MUST remain below the liquid at all times during the fermentation process!

Okay, now that the rules are out of the way, get to chopping that cabbage!  Save the large outside leaves if you want to use that to help keep the kraut below the brine.  If it is easier for you to use a slicer or food processor, go ahead.  Personally, I love to slice it thick with a knife.  It makes for a crunchier kraut.  Each way of slicing creates a different texture.

As you are slicing the cabbage, put it into a large bowl and toss some salt onto it.  Add any herbs you want (garlic, dill, cardamom, black pepper, chilis, etc).  Fresh is best because they don’t float up to the top as much.  Layer in the bowl: cabbage, herbs, salt.  (1 cabbage usually needs about 1 tbsp of salt).  Please note:  You do not have to add any herbs.  They just add a different flavor.

Once everything is sliced up in the bowl and layered with salt, cover it with a kitchen towel and leave overnight.

Layered Cabbage and Herbs

The next day, I might squeeze it some.  It’s loaded it into the crock or Fido jar with all the liquid and something heavy is placed on it.  You can see the edge of the weight in the picture below.

Liquid is forming

I then leave it throughout the day to make sure the liquid is rising.  The picture below is 24 hours after slicing the cabbage.  I pull off any floaty bits and cover it with the lid.

Liquid covers kraut

I ferment my gallon of kraut for at least 6-8 weeks.  Then its jarred and refrigerated.  I would suggest that if this is your first batch, start tasting it after a week or 2. Once it reaches your liking, it’s ready.  If it’s too salty, let it continue to sit.

Below is a chart from The Probiotic Jar that provides salt measurements. It is basically 1tsp per pound of cabbage.


A few (un)mentionables: While the cabbage is fermenting, it will be off gassing.  You may encounter some interesting, or maybe NOT so interesting smells.  My motto is: Fermentation does all the farting for you!

If you have not encountered fermented foods before, you may want to start with a small amount the first time.  Maybe a forkfull or two.  You will want to gradually introduce the healthy probiotics to your gut to avoid any unpleasantries.


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