Chatelaine Kitchen

It's Oktoberfest. Let's make homemade sauerkraut!

It's quite the process to make your own sauerkraut, but the authentic taste is well worth the wait. Fun weekend project alert!
Bowl of Sauerkraut Photo by Kristen Eppich Bowl of Sauerkraut
Photo by Kristen Eppich

Channeling your inner Oktoberfest? I don't know what it is about this time of year, but it makes me want to throw on a dirndl and yodel from the hilltops! Short of that, I dedicated this past weekend to making an Oktoberfest feast for my family and friends. Dinner consisted of pork and chicken schnitzel, homemade spaetzle and a fresh dill and cucumber salad. It was a total hit (if I do say so myself). I even decided to take things up a notch and make homemade sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut goes beyond canning and pickling, and enters into the realm of the newly cool again, fermenting – a slightly daunting concept. That said, it's surprisingly easy to make – in fact, time does most of the work for you. Homemade sauerkraut tastes fresher, slightly firmer and tangier than the store bought variety. The flavour increases as the mixture sits and ferments, so taste it every few days and decide when it has reached the perfect balance you've been waiting for.

Make sure all your equipment and utensils are sterilized by running them through the hottest cycle in your dishwasher before use. Since fermentation occurs at room temperature, sterilization will lessen the likelihood of  bacteria growing in your sauerkraut. In the event that the cabbage appears a little slimy, it has gone rancid, and you'll need to start over.

Just follow these easy steps and you should be successful. Homemade sauerkraut is well worth the effort, so do give it a try!

Homemade Sauerkraut


  • 5 lbs green cabbage
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds

You will need: 1 large bowl; 1 tall, narrow pitcher; a heavy Mason jar; a clean kitchen towel. (Make sure to run all utensils through the hottest cycle on your dishwasher before use.)


  • PULL the outer leaves from the cabbage and reserve – you will need them later on. Slice the cabbage in half and remove the core. Reserve one half of the cabbage for another use.
  • SLICE cabbage half  into manageable wedges, then finely slice, preferably on a mandolin into thin shreds. Transfer to a large bowl: you will have about 16 cups of shredded cabbage.
  • SPRINKLE salt over the cabbage. Massage the cabbage with the salt until it has wilted and the volume has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in caraway seeds and toss to combine. Transfer cabbage and any liquid that has been released into a tall, narrow pitcher.
  • RINSE one of the reserved outer cabbage leaves and lay over the top of the shredded cabbage, forming a cover. Use a sterilized object (such as a mason jar or clean heavy can) to weigh down the cabbage. Cover the pitcher with a kitchen towel. Occasionally press down on the cabbage for the next 4 to 5 hours, until enough liquid has been released that the cabbage is submerged.
  • ALLOW cabbage to ferment in a cool, dark place for 1 to 4 weeks. Check cabbage every two days. Skim any unwanted foam from the top and rinse off the base of the jar or object that is being used as a weight. Test for flavour. Once sauerkraut is to your taste, transfer to a sealable jar and store in the fridge.

Originally published September 26th, 2014.


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