Sauerkraut from Scratch

Fermentation at home! It may take some time, but it’s easier than you think to make your own sauerkraut from scratch!

Fermentation at home! Make your own Sauerkraut from scratch!I’ve wanted to get into making our own fermented foods for awhile, mmmm kimchi… and I totally want to make our own miso.  But I’ve been reluctant because at home fermentation scared me.  How would I know I did it right? How would I know it was done?  So much room for error!  Luckily there’s Aton Brown’s Sauerkraut From Scratch recipe to the rescue!

The biggest changes to our scratch cooking lifestyle, is how we plan to eat.  Because now, if we want to make something, we need to go through the list of ingredients, see which we need to make from scratch, and plan out when to do that and how long that will take in order to get us to where we want to be.  Sounds super time consuming and possibly annoying to some, but I love it.  I love the process of having to really plan out a dish, not just the ingredients I need to buy at the store, but then also seeing the ingredients of things I now get to make on my own, and the most fun part, the ingredients I need to learn how to make.  So time consuming, totally. But worth it? Absolutely. There’s something incredibly satisfying about the whole process to us.Fermentation at home! Make your own Sauerkraut from scratch!Up until now, we’ve had to plan out bread making or cheese making, or pasta making for our dishes. Nothing that took more than a couple of days of prep.  This sauerkraut is our longest prep ingredient for an upcoming meal: Reubens from scratch.  Prep time: >10 minutes. Fermentation time: 30 days.  Neat. Since I was kind of nervous about the whole fermentation process, I of course went to my most trusted culinary source. Alton Brown. If he says it’ll work, I trust that it’ll work.  And he did not let me down with this sauerkraut. It was so easy to make.  Just a slice of a head of cabbage, a mix for a few ingredients, and then let to sit to ferment away in a cool dry place for a month.Fermentation at home! Make your own Sauerkraut from scratch!So since it was so long ago, I had no idea what I did with the pictures (or if I even took any) of the prep process, but they’re really not needed anyway; it’s so simple!  But here’s a shot I took on Instagram of how I let them ferment.Fermentation at home! Make your own Sauerkraut from scratch!And after 4 weeks of fermenting away submerged in water, I had sauerkraut!  Warning- there is scum you have to scrape off of the top of the water… when I first saw it I thought I’d messed up, but Alton Brown said it was ok, so I went with it.  And, any cabbage that isn’t totally submerged, will mold.  Which was also kind of gross and my husband had to reassure me that it was normal and I hadn’t ruined it.  In the end, we had ourselves some deliciously caraway flavored, tangy sauerkraut from scratch!  It’ll be delicious on our upcoming Reubens.  Next steps… Rye bread, pickle relish (for the dressing), and Russian dressing πŸ™‚

Sauerkraut From Scratch

Fermentation at home! It may take some time, but it's easier than you think to make your own sauerkraut from scratch!
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Course: Side Dish
Keyword: condiments, fermentation, sauerkraut
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Fermentation: 182 days
Servings: 12 cups
Author: Alton Brown


  • 5 pounds green cabbage shredded
  • 3 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 quart water in a sanitized glass jar


  • In large mixing bowl, mix cabbage thoroughly with salt, juniper berries, and caraway seeds, using hands or tongs. If using your hands, make sure that they are very clean prior to mixing. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Pack cabbage mixture down into a large plastic food container. Top with a lid smaller than the opening of the container and place a glass jar filled with the quart of water on top of the lid. Place in cool area overnight (65 to 70 degrees F). In a day, the cabbage should have given up enough liquid to be completely submerged. The jar serves as a weight to keep the cabbage submerged and away from air.
  • Check cabbage every other day for approximately 2 weeks and skim the surface of scum, if necessary. Let stand for 4 weeks. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.


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  • You are AWESOME- I applaud your patience… and knowledge! Even I can’t wait until you can one day bite into that delicious, completely made-from-scratch Reubin…. it’s actually funny, I JUST bought sauerkraut the other week and they only had one option which was like a 5 gallon bucket. I think I’ll have it in my fridge for the rest of my life. And now I’ll think of you every time I see it πŸ˜‰

  • …(I’ll think of you every time I see sauerkraut? HA that’s something I never thought I’d say!)

  • Very impressive, Tracy! I thought sauerkraut only came in glass jars! πŸ˜‰ I’m bookmarking this so it’s handy the next time I’m feeling adventurous. Thanks!

  • I’m kind of a fermentation freak and there’s really nothing to be afraid of . . . see you proved it! Nice work. Sauerkraut is awesome to have around for reubens, as a side to sausages, in salads, and in a bento box lunch! There’s a plethora of information out there right now on fermented foods, so we’re lucky to have so much to reference. I imagine with your Polish background you can now get into some kraut pierogies!

    • Thank you!! I’m definitely looking forward to getting more into it, and I like the way you think! Pierogies was the first thought I had when I wondering what else to do with it… and I love the idea of having it in a bento box!

  • I think you are very brave to try this! I’m so glad it worked out. I love reubens and bet this will make them taste even better since you made the sauerkraut from scratch.

  • you take cooking from scratch up a notch! I’m so glad you really get into the deeper level. I’m getting all inspired now to get growing some cabbage. I have plans for it this year! Thanks for sharing !