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Homemade German Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut might not be the national dish of Germany, but in the U.S., it is the one food most associated with German cuisine. It is easy to make your own sauerkraut, as you simply rely on the bacteria found on the cabbage leaves to assist in fermentation. The salt added draws out the water, kills off the spoilage bacteria, and fermentation begins.

With this easy recipe, you can adjust the yield to your liking since each batch ferments in a 1-quart Mason jar. It can take anywhere from one to three weeks to achieve a nice sour tartness in your sauerkraut; in the cool temperatures of winter, it will take longer, and in the warm days of summer, it will go more quickly. There are many ways to enjoy homemade sauerkraut, including right out of the jar, as a garnish or a salad, or cooked along with apples and sausage.

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 cups loosely packed shredded cabbage (about 2 pounds)
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 teaspoons pickling salt, or other non-iodized salt, divided
  • 1 cup filtered water

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Fermentation Time: 250 hrs
Total: 250 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 10 to 12 servings
Yield: 1 quart

Steps to Make It

1. Gather the ingredients.

2. In a clean, non-metallic bowl, mix together the cabbage, juniper berries, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, and 2 teaspoons of the pickling salt.

3. Stir to release the cabbage’s juices.

4. Let it rest for 10 minutes and then mix again. If needed, you can let it rest longer, as much as 1 to 2 hours.

5. Sterilize a 1-quart, wide-mouthed Mason jar and the lid by boiling for several minutes in water and draining on a clean dishcloth.

6. Pack the cabbage and seasonings into the sterilized jar, pushing down with a wooden (not metal) spoon.

7. Combine the filtered water with the remaining pickling salt. Pour over the cabbage, filling it so it reaches up to the rim of the jar. Cap loosely with a sterilized canning lid.

8. Place the jar on a tray to catch overflowing juices. The mixture will begin to bubble.

9. After the bubbling stops, check the container. If the water level has fallen below the rim of the jar, top it off with more salt water (keeping a ratio of 1 teaspoon pickling salt per 1 cup of water) that has been warmed slightly so it will dissolve completely.

10. Keep the jar between 65 F and 72 F on the tray for 1 to 3 weeks to achieve a pleasantly sour flavor. After the first week, taste the sauerkraut every few days until it reaches the tartness you desire. 

11. Once it is to your liking, skim any (harmless) white spots or film from the top, close the jar tightly with a sterilized canning lid and ring, wipe off the outside of the jar, and store it in the refrigerator. Enjoy as is, spoon on top of hot dogs, or cook along with pork chops for a satisfying meal.

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