Simple, Fresh Sauerkraut

7 cups finely shredded cabbage
4-5 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Mix all ingredients together until the cabbage starts to leak water. Place in a large, nonreactive container. Pack the cabbage in tightly. There should be enough liquid to cover the cabbage. If not, pour some some brine (16 oz water, 1 tablespoon sea salt) to cover. Weigh down the cabbage* (keeping it below the liquid) and allow to ferment in a cool, dry place for at least 1 week. Check it daily and skim off any scum* that may float to the top. After fermenting, refrigerate in an air tight container.

*I put the cabbage in a huge jar with a very wide mouth and weighted down a shallow bowl with a quart bag filled with water to press down the cabbage. It worked well.
**I really didn’t get any.

My thoughts:

As I think I’ve mentioned before, serving sauerkraut on Thanksgiving along side the turkey and mashed potatoes is a longstanding Baltimore tradition. It wasn’t until I was in college before I realized that this wasn’t something the rest of America did. It just makes sense to have something pickle-y and sour as a foil to the sweet-tart cranberry sauce and creamy potatoes. Or at least it does here in Baltimore.

I never gave making sauerkraut from scratch any thought before but I was emboldened by my kimchi success. I did some research but couldn’t find a really definitive recipe (I couldn’t even find consensus on how much salt to use per pound) so I just gave it my best shot. Basically, sauerkraut is nothing more than fermented, salted cabbage so the margin for error is less than one might think. I added caraway seeds for a more Germanic touch and then waited for about a week. The result: slightly crunchy, perfectly sour, kraut! I feel like a magician.


  1. Wow! I never knew exactly how you made sauerkraut but I love the stuff. I recently started making coleslaw a lot which is sort of similar. We’ll be having lots of saurkraut and kielbasi tomorrow here in Baltimore, hon!

  2. my parents would always make their own sauerkraut and sausages and one day i hope to do the same. yum, looks so good.

  3. I didn’t know about sauerkraut with turkey either! Who knew 🙂

    happy thanksgiving!

  4. walkswiththewaters

    That brings back some memories.
    My grandmother used to have a crock of fermenting cabbage setting on her back porch this time of year.

  5. I think it would be a nice thing to serve with Turkey…add a little kick, because although turkey’s good it can sometimes be a little bland. I’d like to try this out! My in-laws might not be ready for this jelly, but maybe for the leftovers 🙂

  6. I LOVE sauerkraut on Thanksgiving. I made a sweet/sour kraut (using prepared sauerkraut) this year, but I think I’m going to have to try your recipe for “from scratch.”