20 February 2013

Making "Raw" Sauerkraut

My family is of European blood, (my maiden name was Wilson...), so sauerkraut was a staple in the larder and on the table when I was growing up. My grandmother grew cabbage, huge headed Dutch Flat cabbages, to make sauerkraut in the fall. It was a messy, somewhat stinky process, but I loved being part of the process and seeing the jars of kraut lined up on the shelves, alongside the green beans, pickled beets and chow chow. My grandmother didn't like caraway so we didn't have that in the kraut, and it had a mighty strong, tart flavor, to the uninitiated, but it was one of my childhood comfort foods, alongside Spaatzle and pickled beets.

Today, I do hot water bath can some sauerkraut, for my emergency pantry, but I have found that there is a more nutritious, flavorful variety of kraut that can be made for every day consumption. Raw sauerkraut is good for the "gut", it provides a balanced amount of flora to the intestines. It is a great source of pro-biotic bacteria, but unlike yogurt is not a dairy product, and doesn't have to be refrigerated. Being a vegan, I don't eat dairy, so I need another source of pro-biotic bacteria, sauerkraut fits the bill nicely.

                                           Making Raw Sauerkraut 

Equipment needed:

Food processor
1/2 gallon mason jar
Sharp knife
Measuring spoons
Wooden mallot
4 oz. mason jelly jar

4+ pounds cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 apples, peeled and grated
4 tsp unrefined salt
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

Save 2 large cabbage leaves from head.
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl except for the 2 cabbage leaves.
2. Pound or massage for 15 minutes or until there is plenty of juice.
3. Pack a 64 oz mason jar 3/4 full.
4. Cover with cabbage leaves and weigh down.
5. Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 days.
If vegetables get slimy or turn brown, throw them out. If any white yeast develops on top, scrape
it off; it is not harmful, but tastes unpleasant.

Combine the shredded cabbage, apple, carrot, salt and caraway seed in a large bowl.

With a large, long handled, wooden mallot, (I got mine at a Latin grocery store, it is a chocloate stirrer), or a heavy potato masher, pound the ingredients to break the cabbage down and release the juices. You should pound the cabbage mixture vigorously, scraping and moving the cabbage around to make sure that you get to all the cabbage equally. Close to the end of the process take both hands and squeeze the cabbage mixture to expel juices that may be left in the cabbage.
My husband volunteered to do the mashing for me

You will know when you are done mashing when you place the palm of your hand down firmly on the cabbage mixture and the liquid flows over the top of your hand.

Once the cabbage is ready, take cabbage mixture by the handful and put it in the 1/2 gallon jar. Pack it in tightly with your fist. Continue to do this until the jar is 3/4 full of packed cabbage mix.

When Jar is 3/4 full pour in some of the juice from the bowl to stand 1 inch above the packed cabbage.

 At this point it is time to take the reserved outer leaves of the cabbage and position them on top of the packed cabbage in the jar. Press them down firmly to force out any air that may be trapped between the leaves and the packed cabbage and to cause the juices to flow over the top of the cabbage leaves until they are covered.

Take small 4 oz. mason jar and place it in the mouth of the 1/2 gallon jar. If you don't have a 4 oz. jelly jar then another jar will do, but you must be very careful to choose a jar that will fit loosely into the 1/2 gallon jar, leaving room on the sides so that the smaller jar does not become stuck in the neck of the 1/2 gallon jar. It also must not stick up above the top of the jar or this lid might not fit on when you go to screw it on. If you can't find a jar that will fit, a sealed ziploc sandwich bag full of small glass marbles will do the trick as well. Press down to force liquid up the sides of the smaller jar, but not over the top.

Place lids on the jar and tighten. Put the jar a plastic container, (I used a plastic shoe box sized storage container, but a recycled salad container or even a mixing bowl will serve),  to keep the juice from getting on the counter should it bubble out during the fermentation process.
This photo shows two jars of Kraut. The recipe only makes one jar of Kraut, but I doubled the recipe for my own use so this photo shows two jars.

Leave the sauerkraut to ferment undisturbed for 5 -10 days. I usually go the full 10 days to allow ample time for the cabbage to completely ferment and the flavor to develop.

I refrigerate after the fermentation process, just to be sure the kraut doesn't go bad, but if the kraut is kept covered with juice and something  heavy is sitting on it to keep kraut submerged, then it could be left out, unrefrigerated. As was done in days gone by. Let your own sensibilities help you to choose whether or not you refrigerate the sauerkraut when it is done. Spoilage would be indicated by browning, foaming and a foul smell.

Most of the time I just eat the sauerkraut as a side dish to my meals, but it is great to top a tossed vegetable salad, or on a Reuben sandwich. This is a definite keeper for anyone on a vegan or raw diet, since it is both a probiotic and a raw food.  If you try this recipe, stop back by and comment and tell me what you think of it and what recipes you used it in. I would be delighted to hear from you!

Blog Hops This is Linked to:
Clever Chicks Blog Hop#22
Homestead Barn Hop #99
HomeAcre Hop#7 
Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #97 
Farmgirl Blog Fest #21
Sustainable Suburbia.net Sustainable-Living-Blogs
The Country Homemaker Hop #55
The Busy Bee's 5th Thursday Blog Hop
Clever Chick Blog Hop # 23
Homestead Barn Hop #100 
Hearthfelt Hopes #1


  1. I have to try that............Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick


    1. Thank you for the comment and the invitation! I pop over and join in on the fun!

  2. I love this! I've been introducing myself to the lacto-fermentation world, and sauerkraut is next on my list. My Dad demands that I do it the old-fashioned way our German forebearers did, and this is the exact same set-up. All of the pictures and tips have definitely helped. Can't wait to get started!!

    I'd love to invite you to add this to my link party called Hearthfelt Hopes over on my blog, The Aliso Kitchen. I added the link in my URL, if you're interested. :)

    1. I am glad it helped! I love this raw kraut... we go through it very quickly. Thanks for the invitation! I will be glad to come join the fun!

  3. I have to try this! I've been doing my own sauerkraut for a while now, but I think I was getting overconfident and ruined my last 2 batches with too much salt. We'll see though. I also let mine ferment for at least three weeks.

    I love that you added apples to this! I'm sure my daughter will love it!

  4. It is easy peasy to make and you can ferment it as long as you like, it just a fuller flavor. Enjoy! Thanks for commenting!

  5. my husband will love this, I found your post on the also Kitchen

    1. Thank you for the comment and for stopping by! Please come back and visit again sometime!

  6. Great instructions! Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop!!! Can't wait to see what you share this coming Thursday :) Here's the super easy link to the next hop!

    If you haven't checked out Wildcrafing Wednesday yet, please do! :) It's a hop I co-host for herbal remedies, natural living, real food recipes, and self sufficient living. Here's the link for tomorrow's hop:

  7. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick


  8. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have been making garlic pickles similarly, but have not yet tried to make a batch of sauerkraut. This recipe is not too large for two people and I really appreciate that. I will be trying it soon.

  9. I hope that you enjoy the sauerkraut... We go through 1/2 gallon jar in about a week, so I have a batch fermenting and about the time we are done with the previous batch we have a new one ready! Thank you for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment! I hope you will visit again sometime!

  10. Hi,
    I love making and eating raw sauerkraut so I am delighted to discover and explore your blog via the Sustainable Surburbia Linkup!
    I am enjoying reading your wonderful sustainable living blog posts.
    I blog about healthy, green and natural living at www.UrbanNaturale.com
    We have a lot of interests in common. Let's stay in touch.
    All the best, Deb

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