If you’re keen to add fermented food to your diet, this simple fermented red cabbage, aka sauerkraut, is the perfect place to start. All you need is a head of red cabbage, salt, and some patience. German sauerkraut is traditionally served as a side for rich meat dishes but this vibrant red cabbage also adds extra flavor and color to salads, burgers, and sandwiches.
Fermentation has been a preservation method for many years but its health benefits have recently turned this ancient skill into a food trend. As with any trends, these heavily marketed health foods, unfortunately, come with a steep price tag and at times additional ingredients to increase their shelf-life. This super simple recipe helps you to save money while adding delicious and nutritious food to your diet.
A note of caution, you certainly want to encourage the growth of the right kind of bacteria in your ferment to prevent botulism. Make sure you thoroughly clean all equipment (including your hands) and surfaces. If mold starts to grow on your ferment, which can happen if the cabbage isn’t fully submerged or the equipment wasn’t sterile to start with, I suggest you throw it out and start fresh.
Wide mouth mason jars work well but any kind of lidded glass jar is suitable. A fermentation crock is a great option too.
I use rubber fermentation lids to allow airflow during fermentation. You can also use cheesecloth with a rubber band.
I use glass fermentation weights to ensure the cabbage remains submerged in the brine at all times. You can also use a sterilized stone or small dessert dishes that fit into the jars.
Does red cabbage make good sauerkraut? Oh, yes it does! I love the vibrant color red cabbage gives this sauerkraut but you can also make it with green cabbage or a mix of the two. Do not wash the cabbage unless there is obvious dirt on it as the fermentation relies on bacteria that naturally occur on the cabbage. For this reason, I suggest opting for organically grown cabbage.
Make sure to use sea salt. You will need 2-3% salt by weight, e.g. 20-30g of salt for 1kg of destemmed cabbage.
I love to add a minced garlic clove to the sauerkraut for a subtle garlic flavor but you can also add juniper berries, caraway, or fennel seeds.
Traditionally sauerkraut is served alongside rich meat dishes such as pork knuckle and sausages to aid digestion. The fermented superfood is also a great addition to salads, wraps such as my easy meatball wraps, sushi, and sandwiches as well as burgers and hot dogs.
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Fermented Red Cabbage (Sauerkraut)
- 2 Large preserving jars
- 2 Fermentation airlock lids
- 2 Fermentations weights
- 1 kg red cabbage medium-sized cabbage
- 1.5 tbsp salt
- 1 clove garlic optional
- Rinse a large bowl, cutting board, and a large knife with boiling water to sterilize them.
- Remove any undesirable outer leaves from the cabbage and cut it in half. Cut out the trunk.1 kg red cabbage
- Set 2 large leaves aside as fermentation weights for later. Store them in the fridge on a sterilized plate.
- Weigh the cabbage and calculate the salt required. You will need 2-3% salt by weight, e.g. 20-30g of salt for 1kg of destemmed cabbage.
- Cut the cabbage or shred it into small pieces. Place them in the bowl and add the salt. Add the garlic or any other spices you would like to use.1.5 tbsp salt, 1 clove garlic
- Thoroughly mix the salt with the cabbage by "massaging" or pounding it for 5 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 2 hours. Massage the cabbage again and let it sit for another 2 hours. Do not drain any liquid that starts to build at the bottom of the bowl, this is your brine.
- In the meantime, sterilize the jars, lids, and fermentation weights with boiling water.
- Fill the jars with cabbage and make sure to leave 1-2 cm space at the top of the jar. Place a reserved leaf on top of your ferment and tuck the sides down. Remove air by pushing down on the leaf and make sure there is no cabbage above it.
- Place the fermentation weights onto the leaf and seal the jars with a fermentation lid.
- Wipe down the jars and store them on a saucer in a cool and dark place for 7-14 days. Bubbles will start to appear after 2-3 days. The longer you let the cabbage ferment, the stronger the sour taste will be. I recommend starting with 7 days.
- Remove the fermentation lids and weights and seal the jars with regular lids.
- Store in the fridge to slow down fermentation and enjoy!