How to make sauerkraut

Making your own sauerkraut can be a rewarding … albeit stinky … experience. It’s a pretty simple process, so let’s get started!

Equipment and Ingredients 

If you want to make your own sauerkraut, here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Food processor with shredding grate
  • A ceramic pickling crock or 2 gallon glass container (do not use metal)
  • 2 heads fresh cabbage (this will make approximately 5 full pints when canned)
  • Pickling salt (do not use iodized salt as this will inhibit the fermentation process)
  • Large food-safe clear bag filled with water (I use turkey oven bags)


Remove any dark or defected outer leaves from the cabbage. Lightly rinse each cabbage head in cold water to remove any visible dirt. Quarter each cabbage head and remove the core.

Use your food processor

Using your food processor, shred the cabbage so it is long and thin. As you remove shredded cabbage from your food processor, weigh the cabbage. Every 5 pounds of shredded cabbage will get  sprinkled with 3 tablespoons of pickling salt.

To make this process easier, I usually salt the cabbage as it comes out of the food processor and is placed in my glass jar. 

Packing the cabbage

Place the first batch (about 5 pounds) in your container. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat.

Once you have all of your cabbage in your container, place the filled and sealed plastic bag on top of the cabbage. This will create enough weight for the salt to begin to draw out the juice … which will in turn create the brine.

In about 30 minutes, you’ll see your cabbage begin to wilt. Within 24 hours, your cabbage will reduce by nearly half. Note: if you do not have enough brine to cover your cabbage within an hour, add enough salt water to do so. 

Cover your container with cheesecloth or a flour sack dish towel to keep out pests and pets. If you’re using a plastic bag, this won’t be necessary. I do, however, place the lid on my glass jar. Check your kraut every few days and remove any scum or mold that may form on the top. This is a normal reaction to air and the kraut beneath the surface will be perfectly fine.  

For best results and a less stinky kitchen, store your kraut in a cool, dry, and dark place – like the basement. It will take about 6 weeks for the kraut to complete the fermentation process. 


Once finished, cook kraut in its liquid to approximately 190 degrees; do not boil. Pack hot kraut into processed mason jars leaving ½ inch head space. Make sure enough liquid is in the jar to completely cover the kraut. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. If packing quart jars, process for 20 minutes. 

Store and use your kraut as desired. After canning, and before using in a recipe, drain and rinse your kraut to remove excess brine.



Making sauerkraut
Cabbage immediately after it has been packed into my glass jar.
Making sauerkraut
I use a food-safe plastic bag filled with water to weigh down the cabbage. This helps draw fluid out of the cabbage and create the brine.
Making sauerkraut
All packed up and ready to wait! It takes about 6 weeks for the cabbage to ferment.