Fermented Food: If It Doesn’t Poison You, It Will Make You Healthier (…Right?)

I have never been a big fan of cabbage: let’s just get that out there in the open. Cabbage and I have a surface-level friendship at best, one whose stilted conversations (at mandatory social functions such as summer barbecues and family reunion picnics, etc.) are fraught with long and uncomfortable silences. Oh, hey Cabbage– I acknowledge your existence as a vegetable… I guess. [extended pause while Cabbage and I telepathically affirm our decided lack of common ground.] Well, I’ve got to go now. Have a good day, and easy on the mayonnaise!

I have never ordered coleslaw in a restaurant or made it myself at home, and cabbage is definitely not at the top (or even at the bottom) of my grocery list. Cabbage is like the Ugly Duckling of the vegetable kingdom; the socially awkward kid you used to say hello to in the hallways at school just to be polite; the stinky and inexpensive last-resort foodstuff; the least glamorous item in the produce aisle. No seriously, Dana– tell me how you really feel.

It is in this context of general cabbage hating that I inexplicably launched into making my own Countertop Sauerkraut a short while ago. Yes, me! And cabbage!! Who knew that I– She of the Cabbophobia and Upturned Cabbage Patch Nose– would ever purchase copious amounts of the green stuff, ferment it in a jar, and then actually attempt to eat it, all the while praying that I wasn’t going to contract some deadly strain of food poisoning? Never say never, my friends: Never say never!

Preparing for the solemn sauerkraut-making task ahead

Of course, this was all undertaken as part of my Personal Beauty Detox Journey. Kimberly Snyder provides a recipe for what she lovingly refers to as “Probiotic and Enzyme Salad” in her book. I was all excited to try this exotic-sounding dish until I realized that it was basically cabbage. Fermented cabbage at that. Blech. However, in the spirit of trying new things and blossoming into a shimmering goddess of radiant health, I forged ahead with the recipe and made my own, honest-to-god raw sauerkraut! (Naturally, with some pitfalls along the way. What else would you expect from me? Almond milk, anyone?) Allow me now to outline how I managed to eff this really simple recipe up not once, but twice, before finally getting it right. Heh.

My First Attempt At Making Raw Sauerkraut

There are a total of four ingredients in this particular sauerkraut recipe: shredded cabbage, fresh ginger, miso paste, and water. The instructions are basically “mix” and “put in a jar”, but somehow I still managed to get things wrong from the get go. (Leave it to me, right?)

My Vita-Mix blender and KitchenAid food processor: partners in crime!

My first mistake was purchasing a medium-sized cabbage that apparently wasn’t “medium-sized” enough. Thus, my inaugural batch of sauerkraut ended up looking like shredded cabbage soup in the jar– there was a ton of liquid and not nearly as much cabbage.

Something about this looks a little… off… no?

The recipe is supposed to yield 12 cups of sauerkraut. My modest-sized cabbage was on par to yield me 3 or 4-ish cups of kraut and 4-5 cups of brine… if I was being overly generous with my cabbage tally and grossly underestimating the amount of liquid I’d have left over. Is this how my sauerkraut is supposed to look?, I asked myself doubtfully as I tucked my jar of sloshing liquid into the back of a kitchen cupboard. For some reason, I think this is supposed to look more cabbage-y.

Yes, this definitely doesn’t look right.

Nevertheless, I let the gigantic jar of brine (and a modest amount of shredded cabbage) sit in my cupboard for the recommended 5 days. Then I let it sit for an extra 4 days when it didn’t seem “fermented” enough to my untrained eye. (What does “fermented” even look like? Should it bubble? Froth? Foam? Smell? Snap, crackle, and pop? Hiss? How should I know?)

Finally, after ten or so days of stealing wary glances at this jar of suspicious liquid, the moment of truth arrived: it was time to eat a half-cup of the fermented kraut with my dinner. Could I do it? Could I overcome my lifelong aversion to cabbage? Would my decision to eat fermented cabbage come back to haunt me in the form of food poisoning, violent projectile vomiting, chills, fevers, rashes, or even an untimely death? Β 

My sauerkraut jar, after 10 days spent in the back of my kitchen cupboard

Nope! (Obviously, it didn’t kill me, since I am still alive– enough– to tell you this tale.) I ate the kraut, after fishing some lonely cabbage flakes out from the virtual pond of brine. Amazingly, it was delicious! Super delicious, in fact– I was beyond surprised! Emboldened by my success at Winning Sauerkraut (despite technically failing the easiest sauerkraut recipe on the planet), I went ahead and made another batch.

My Second Attempt At Making Raw Sauerkraut

[I have no accompanying photos for my second go-round at making sauerkraut. The reasons for this will become evident rather quickly.] This time around, I bought a much bigger cabbage. I also purchased different (smaller) jars to put the kraut in so I could have multiple, cuter jars of sauerkraut available in place of my Big Mother Sauerkraut Jar. (By my reasoning, the new jars would look more quaint in the fridge after the fermentation process had been completed, it would be easier to fork sauerkraut out of smaller jars vs. one gigantic and deep jar, and did I mention that the smaller jars were cuter looking?) πŸ™‚

The shredding of the cabbage and the mixing of the ingredients came so easily and naturally the second time around– I was sure I was going to be a Sauerkraut Making Professional. Everything fit so snugly into the cuter jars. My cabbage looked so great and perfect when I lovingly tucked it into my kitchen cupboards to ferment. I win countertop sauerkraut!, I announced to myself as I washed the prep dishes afterward. I deserve silent congratulations and a symbolic pat on my own back!

When I went to check on my jars after 24 hours had elapsed in the cupboards, I noticed that they were sitting in small puddles of liquid. It was then that it dawned on me, the Perpetually Slow Learner, that I had possibly– nay, definitely– packed my cute, small jars too full of cabbage and brine. The fermentation process had started, but there was not enough breathing room left in the jars for the mixture to properly expand. Something would have to give, and that something would most likely be glass. Images of shattered mason jars and shredded cabbage all over my kitchen cupboards came to mind.


I resigned myself to utilizing my Big Mother Sauerkraut Jar once again (pictured above). I would just transfer this newly fermented cabbage from the two small jars into the one big jar. Easy peasy, right? WRONG! Because my brain is wired to be School Smart and Not At All Street Smart, I simply opened the first of my stuffed-to-the-top cute jars like I was mindlessly twisting open a container of peanut butter.

This was not a wise move.

Suddenly unencumbered by the protective vacuum seal, shredded cabbage and brine exploded all over the kitchen (and over my clothes, and into my hair) with the force of one of those t-shirt cannons they use at half time for football games. Kapow!! Fermented juice and smelly cabbage EVERYWHERE!!! On the walls, on the ceiling, on the floor, on the countertops, on my jeans, all over my girly top– sauerkraut was literally everywhere. What a way to suddenly round third base with the otherwise awkward and socially inept cabbage patch kid! Who knew I would get so up close and personal with cabbage??

[This is why I did not take any photos. I was too infuriated and otherwise occupied with picking shredded cabbage out of my ponytail to care about documenting this ordeal on camera.] Through gritted teeth, I salvaged what I could of the mixture, stuffed it into my large jar, and then braced myself to open the second small jar.

This time, I opened the jar carefully and in the safety of my kitchen sink. It still went KAPOW!!, but most of the carnage was inflicted on the sink instead of all over the kitchen (and, more importantly, on me!) Again, I salvaged what I could and transferred the cabbage into my Big Jar for fermenting.

This batch, despite the trials and tribulations I endured to make it, also yielded delicious results, so when the third time comes around for making my own raw sauerkraut, I’ll be totally prepared:

1. I’ll know what size of cabbage constitutes a “medium”.

2. I purchased an extra cute jar so I won’t have to stuff my original ones so tightly with cabbage again.

3. I will never again open a vacuum-sealed jar of still-fermenting cabbage right in front of my precious face and slower-than-average brain. It’s not worth it!


PS: My middle sister, who is a Raw Foods Champion and also an honorary She-Ra of Foods That Are Good For You, expressed shock and concern over the miso paste and ginger that are used in this particular recipe. (Apparently she makes her own Countertop Kraut using nothing but cabbage and some high-quality sea salts, but who was I to argue with a recipe that Kimberly Snyder explicitly calls “sacred” in her book?) I have since learned from K.S. herself that the miso and ginger are basically just added for yummy flavour, so if you decide to embark on your own kraut-making adventure, these two ingredients aren’t 100% necessary. Otherwise, go nuts! πŸ™‚

Update: You can read about my ongoing kraut adventures and try a red cabbage/shredded beet kraut recipe on my more recent post here. See you there!

59 responses

  1. This post is wonderful, Dana. I like cabbage but HATE sauerkraut–HATE it! And if there is any doubt remanining, let me assure you–I really don’t like sauerkraut. Congrats on mustering the courage to eat the stuff! (Some day you’ll get that cabbage off the ceiling–don’t worry!)

    • I find the raw sauerkraut to be a lot different than the kraut you can buy at the grocery store. It doesn’t taste sour at all– this particular stuff tastes more like ginger. It’s still not my favourite food (what with the cabbage and all), but I’m willing to keep at it for the sake of awesome digestion. πŸ˜‰

  2. Unfortunately, in my neck of the woods, people eat kraut on EVERYTHING. I’ve never been able to stomach the store-bought kind, but I might (if bravery finds me) try this recipe out.

    • Actual kraut (not the store-bought kind) is very popular in Eastern Europe as well. I grew to hate cabbage partly because it was in ALL of our traditional Ukrainian dishes (cabbage rolls, sauerkraut perogies, etc.) Blech! I’m older and wiser (and prettier!) now, so I’m actually quite enjoying the raw sauerkraut.

  3. Random comical observation: when I first saw the subject for today’s post, I thought it was going to be another commentary on your neighbourhood.

  4. Funny post. Although I don’t suppose it’s funny to have sauerkraut exploding all over everything, it does sound funny.

    I love cabbage. Raw, cooked, fermented, any old way except with mayo. I make my coleslaw with vinegar and a little olive oil.

    I am intrigued by the idea of adding ginger and miso to the cabbage. I have made sauerkraut with salt, and would love to give this a try.

    • It’s SUPER yummy– delicious enough to convert even this ol’ cabbage hater! πŸ˜‰ 1 medium-large cabbage, a 4″ piece of gingerroot, 1 Tbsp miso, and 4 cups of water is all you need. Blend water, miso, and ginger together, stir in with cabbage, put in jars. Wait. Easy peasy!

  5. funny and interesting. my wife uses cabbage in almost any vegetable recipe. I wonder why but it always taste good when she cooks them mix with something. That something I don’t ask, if it taste good, I just eat them.good post.

    • Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! The taste of cabbage might grow on me over time. I never used to like kale before and now it’s my favourite vegetable! We’ll see…

    • I’m technically just “Canadian”, but my paternal Dido (grandfather) came from Ukraine during the war. Everyone else in my extended family has been in Canada for generations and generations…

  6. Holy. Amazing. Awesome. Kraut!

    Seriously, you could have practically peeled me off the floor when you said the jar exploded. Luckily, my co-workers already consider me “a little odd” so they didn’t bat an eyelash at my out-of-nowhere giggle fest.

    Thank you for detailing the process – since I am without an ingrained aversion to cabbage-y goodness, I’m game to try but I most assuredly would’ve ended up experiencing similarly tragic ceiling-cleaning, hair-extracting results!

    • My tiny brain didn’t make the physics connection until much too late. Vacuum seal + expansion due to fermentation = A GIGANTIC MESS TO CLEAN UP!

      I really seem to operate by the law of threes, at least when it comes to the kitchen: it takes me at least 3 times to succeed at something new, so long as I have enough patience, perseverance, and self-love to fail those first two times. πŸ˜‰ Good luck making your own kraut– it’s actually really yummy if you can get past the whole “jars exploding” part. Heh.

  7. Oh. My. God. Best. Post. Ever.
    I was reading thinking “Man I’m glad Dana has mishaps in the kitchen too. And I’m glad she blogs about them….”
    Then I got to Mishap #2. You are HILARIOUS. You totally should have taken a photo – this is much better blogging material than my cookies that look like bums!!
    What do you eat the kraut with? I have a great recipe for cabbage with pasta – no seriously. It’s covered with mozzarella cheese…..I think it’s mozzarella…..it’s been a while since I’ve made it.

    • I don’t know… your bum cookies were pretty classic! I would have taken a photo of the disaster zone, but I was highly irritable with stinky juice all over my body and clothes… Too cranky to even snap a photo! πŸ™‚

  8. LOVE cabbage and ADORE the kraut. Your story reminds me of my Korean friend telling of her mother making home made Kimchi (also made of fermented cabbage but much stinkier) and needing to “Burp” it- so it didn’t explode. But afraid to do that on the airplane for fear of being attacked by the passengers for releasing the toxic odor. I know you’re a vege but I love to stuff SK in a chicken, stuff the hole with a lemon, cover in lemon and pepper and roast. Yummy.

    • I’ll have to try that the next time I roast a bird for my dinner guests! (I decided that learning how to properly roast a chicken was an Essential Life Skill, even for almost-vegans like me. My mom nearly keeled over from the shock of it all when I asked her how to teach me.)

  9. You make me laugh out loud. I read part of your blog out loud to my husband it was so hillarious! “Oh, hey Cabbage– I acknowledge your existence as a vegetable… I guess. [extended pause while Cabbage and I telepathically affirm our decided lack of common ground.] Well, I’ve got to go now. Have a good day, and easy on the mayonnaise” LMAO

  10. I tried making the probiotic and enzyme salad too, but I’m not sure if mine came out right? It’s been fermenting for 10 days now and the cabbage isn’t very moist and soggy like sauerkraut that comes in a can. The cabbage is still crunchy, just kind of wet from the brine. I’m wondering if this is right or did the salad not come out right at all!?

    • Based on my results with the salad, I think your cabbage might have been too large (i.e. not enough brine). The times I’ve made the salad and had it come out “right” (aka “delicious”), the cabbage was a bit crunchy, but mainly moist and tender. There always ends up being a puddle of brine at the bottom of the jar by the time I’ve eaten all the cabbage, so if your cabbage is still mostly dry, then I think you need to start over with a smaller cabbage or more brine. I hope this helps! πŸ™‚

  11. Yes that does help very much! Thank you. There is still brine in the separate mason jars, and there is a puddle in the one I just finished. I just expected the cabbage to be a lot more tender, as I am used to seeing sauerkraut that way. Maybe it did come out right then! Hopefully so, because it is moist but still crunchy. But thanks again for your help πŸ™‚

    • No problem! The sauerkraut from the store is usually boiled to death in the canning process, so that’s probably why you were expecting something soggier! The Probiotic and Enzyme Salad is still raw/living, so it’s not as droopy as the store-bought version. πŸ™‚

  12. Thanks so much for this amusing tale of conquering your fears of cabbage. I just finished reading Kimberly’s book, myself and am slowly easing into this new lifestyle. And I can totally identify with your story because now that I’ve just finished the five day waiting period for the Probiotics/Enzyme salad, I’m afraid to try it, the smell is quite alarming. Did your’s smell kind of fishy? I will proceed with caution when opening mine up, LOL! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, that was the best laugh I’ve had in a long time!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Deborah! I appreciate the comment, and I’m glad you got a laugh at my expense. πŸ™‚

      I have to say, the smell when you first open the container of fermented cabbage is quite atrocious– almost enough to put me off of sauerkraut FOREVER. Mine smelled very slightly fishy, but mostly like that potent sulfur/cabbage smell– it literally burned my nostrils! I would try just a nibble at first if you’re afraid. It will be quite zesty but it won’t taste even remotely as horrible as it smells. (I know… not very reassuring, but everything should be fine! Good luck!)

  13. Oh you are one brave soul! Just the word sauerkraut makes me cringe :-/ But you’ve given me hope! I too read Kim’s book and then decided to completely skip the first phase and start with the second because I really wanted to drink the GGS. But I’m pretty sure I have a candida issue so I’m going to gave to do some time in the first phase. Before I start on this kraut journey I have a couple of questions: where did you get the small cute jars? About to what consistency are you supposed to blend all the ingredients? Do you know if Trader Joes has that miso paste? And lastly, the final results won’t taste like rotten fish and yuck, right?? I keep thinking it’s going to taste like something they make contestants eat on Fear Factor lol.

    • Hey there! Thanks for reading and for the comment. The kraut is definitely more of a psychological barrier than anything– in my case, once I got over the idea that I was *MAKING SAUERKRAUT* it was totally fine. It tastes good and everything! πŸ™‚

      I got my small cute jars at London Drugs, which is a larger drugstore here in Western Canada. (I’m sure places like Target would sell them, too. Any place that has an aisle full of Tupperware should have some small, cute jars tucked in there somewhere.)

      When I first started making the kraut, I was chopping the cabbage up really finely using the grater blade on my food processor. However, after a few tries, I decided I liked a more coarse consistency for the cabbage so have been chopping it roughly by hand. (To give you a visual comparison, the food processor sliced up the cabbage to look like super-small shredded cheese, but I’ve been cutting it myself to look more like thin ribbons. The pieces are more substantial, but I like it that way!) As far as the brine goes, I just put the ginger, water, and miso in my blender and blend for about 20-30 seconds. It ends up looking like a frothy beer. πŸ™‚

      The first 3-4 times I made the kraut, I poured the chopped cabbage into a large bowl with the brine and then I transferred it, spoonful by spoonful, into my jars. Then I saw a video of Kimberly Snyder making kraut, and she put the dry cabbage into her jars and poured the brine over it. This is WAY easier! Just pack your dry cabbage down tightly into the jar, using a wooden spoon and really crunching it to the bottom. Pile it up until there are about 2 inches of empty space at the top of the jar. Roll the outside cabbage leaves and stuff them up to the top of the jar, and then pour the brine until it just covers the shredded part (i.e. up to the 2-inches to go mark of the jar). This saves dishes and time. Seriously– put the dry cabbage in the jar first!

      We don’t have a Trader Joe’s here, but I’m positive that it will sell miso. Almost all of the regular grocery stores in my city carry miso paste– not just the ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ markets. It doesn’t seem to be as elusive an ingredient as most people have made it out to be, at least where I live. Some stores sell it right on the shelf (room temperature) in the teriyaki/soy/curry sauce section, but many others sell the same brand in the refrigerator section– either stuck in the produce section near the tofu and mushrooms, or in a really random place near butter, cheese, and eggs. πŸ™‚

      My only word of caution with the end result is this: when you first open the jar after letting it ferment for a few days, it will smell TERRIBLE. As you are reaching inside the jar to remove those rolled-up outer leaves and discard/compost them, you will think that you have made an awful mistake and that you can’t possibly ingest your kraut. Try not to smell it. (Especially from up close– I tried that the first time and the fermentation nearly burnt the insides of my nostrils. It hurt!) Cabbage in general doesn’t have a great smell- it smells rotten at the best of times. As long as there is no black mould or anything lining the top of your jar, you’ve done it right and it will be safe to eat. Just clear your mental hurdle and try a small bit in your mouth. It’s surprisingly delicious, even for somebody like me who normally hates cabbage.

      Good luck with the process and with Kim’s Beauty Detox Solution! I hope this info helps– let me know if you need anything else clarified. πŸ™‚

      • Thanks for writing back! I almost have all the ingredients ready, so I should be making a batch pretty soon πŸ™‚ I’m glad I came across your blog first because your experience sounds like exactly something that would have happened to me! Just a couple more questions πŸ˜‰ Is the terrible smell just present the first time you open the jar after fermenting? Also about how long does the batch last you? And how’s your experience going so far with the Beauty Detox Solution?

        • No problem! I have terrible luck getting things right the first time around, so I am happy to share my pitfalls and hopefully help other people avoid them in the future. πŸ™‚

          The rotten stench is most powerful when you first open the jar after fermentation, but you do get a pretty rank whiff of cabbage every time you open the jar after that, too. I mentally have to brace myself, but maybe I’m just overly sensitive to kraut smell. I literally have to tell myself “Don’t worry– you like this stuff!” every time I open the jar. Your mileage may vary.

          I eat the kraut with my partner, and we each have a half cup of kraut per serving, but we don’t usually eat it daily like KS recommends in her book. A batch lasts us between 1.5 weeks and 3 weeks, depending on how diligent we are with our cabbage eating. I usually make batches on a rotating basis, starting a new batch when the other one is finished fermenting. That said, I always have to ferment mine for 10 days, because our kitchen cupboards aren’t very warm at all. By the time we finish one batch of kraut, the next batch is ready to go.

          I honestly love the Beauty Detox Solution. I started it in the spring of last year but then fell off the program in a hard and horrible way during the summer, when I was crazy busy with work and ate way too much (terrible) take out food. I resumed the program again in the fall, but I’m not following it hardcore. I eat the kraut every few days and have between 3 and 5 Glowing Green Smoothies per week. The biggest things I’ve noticed have to do with my skin, energy levels, digestion (especially elimination) and sleeping patterns. Even following the BDS program casually, I’ve noticed how great my skin is, and I don’t have to sleep a lot every night but still wake up feeling refreshed. I’m planning to kick it up a bit starting next month again, so we’ll see if there’s any weight changes. I gained a lot of weight during the summer (when my diet consisted of sugar, salt, and fat– go figure!), so I’m hoping to drop about 10 lbs in the new few months. Wish me luck, and best of luck with your Probiotic and Enzyme Salad adventures! πŸ™‚

  14. Hi,
    I just made my second batch of her recipe and my cabbage has a cheesy smell with a slime at the bottom? Too hot/long of a ferment? Any advice on this is appreciated.

    • Hey jackie! I’m still no expert on raw sauerkraut, but it sounds like the too hot/long fermentation theory might be correct. I haven’t encountered any slime in my kraut (or a cheesy smell, for that matter), so I think it would be best to scrap this batch and start over. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not take the risk of eating possibly rotten cabbage. πŸ˜‰ Good luck!

    • Hi, Shawna! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Believe it or not, the kraut (in my experience) actually has a slight fizzy-ness to it. It’s not fully carbonated, of course, but the fermentation process does give it a bit of a tingle. I would try a teensy bit of it. It should have a sour taste to it (and smell pretty awful, unfortunately), but the taste definitely shouldn’t be rotten. Have you ever tried store-bought sauerkraut? It’s got a similar flavour, although the ginger and miso in Kimberly’s recipe gives this raw kraut a more “Asian” (vs. “Russian”) flavour… if that makes any sense. πŸ™‚

  15. Great post. Really admire you giving it a go. I’ve recently bought her book and wanted to try this but I’ve been a bit nervous. Since reading your post, I’ll try it out. I’ve only got powdered miso, I’ll try that and see what happens…. Eek!

    • Thanks, Nic! You can actually leave the miso out altogether if you like. I have been dealing with a lot of food sensitivities lately– miso included– so I’ve been making mine just with cabbage, water, high quality salt, and a bit of ginger root. Good luck!

      • Hello Dana,

        I looked at the packet and it’s got dried seaweed and tofu (and a whole load of other things I don’t want to eat) in it, so I think it’s just for making the soup. I obviously didn’t like it much hence it’s still lurking in the back of the cupboard!

        I have been thinking of making it just with brine. I’m glad to hear it tastes good that way. What measurements of water and salt did you use? I couldn’t find any guidelines anywhere. It just says add salt. I wouldn’t want to make it too salty.

        And in your opinion, is a medium cabbage really a large cabbage? Though, I’m sure size varies with countries.

        Anyway, thanks for your advice!

        • PS: (Sorry for answering the comment across two posts)– you only use enough water to *just* cover the packed-down cabbage in a jar. Four cups (like it calls for in the recipe) is usually way too much for my batches.

          And to recap (in case other visitors come here and wonder where the second half of my reply is): I use approx 3/4 tsp-1 tsp of celtic sea salt for a batch of kraut if I’m just doing the straight brine method (i.e. no miso or ginger root). Medium cabbages are definitely larger cabbages in my opinion. Go big or go home! (Well, it’s more like “Go big or end up with barely any kraut for the time you invested making it.”) Good luck!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I just made my first batch tonight, and had similar results to your first attempt. A big sloshy mess. Now at least I know it will still be edible, I just have to remember to buy bigger cabbage next time!

    • Thanks for the comment, livelight! I’ve been making the kraut differently lately, more like Kimberly’s video than the recipe printed in the book. The ginger-miso brine is now out (for me), so all I’m using is cabbage, celtic sea salt, a dash of caraway seeds, and a teensy bit of filtered water. Maybe 1/4 cup of water… maybe. I got tired of fishing my cabbage out of a soupy brine, so now I just pack as much cabbage as I can into a jar and put a teensy bit of water in at the end. More kraut = more digestive happiness! πŸ™‚

  17. I’m so glad that I found this post! I made my first batch today. Do you use canning mason jars to store the salad? I bought a carton and sterilized the jars with the lids according to the directions (in a saucepan of nearly boiling water). I didn’t realize that I had to put the lids on while they are hot so that the jars’ little rubber ring seal the jar when you screw it on. I let mine cool before putting the lids and band on. 😦
    Now, I don’t know if the whole batch will need to be thrown out. Do you seal your p & e salad in canning jars the way you would if canning jam or vegetables? I am a newbie with canning and I’m afraid that my batch is going to spoil because I missed this detail.

    • Hey Brigitte! Thanks so much for the comment and the great question! You’ll be JUST FINE with the jars the way you sealed them. Making P&E salad is a lot different than regular canning, even though I use the same type of canning jars for both. The main difference between canning and making raw kraut is that you WANT bacteria to flourish in the kraut, whereas you want to kill all/any bacteria off in the canning process. (Nobody likes fermented peaches, right?)

      When I make my kraut, I don’t bring the jars or the lids to nearly boiling. Ever. All I do is thoroughly wash the jar(s) and lid(s) beforehand (by hand– I don’t have a dishwasher). When they are dry, I pack the jar full of kraut and then put the lid on and twist the metal band to seal it. Nothing is heated, nothing is complicated. Pretend it’s a mason jar full of dry grains or something– no need to worry about putting the lid on all fancy-like!

      As long as your jar is packed full enough and has as much of the air packed out of it as possible, I’m sure your first batch will turn out just fine. I just watch out for mould (blackness on the top), and even if that happens, I just pick the black leaves off the top and eat what’s further down. Seriously– kraut intimidated the pants off me at first, but now that I’ve been doing it for several years, I’ve realized that it turns out just fine 99% of the time. Mould? Pick it out! Too much water in the jar? Pour some out and reseal it! Not fermented enough? Meh. Reseal it and put it back in the cupboard. It’s super easy and you’re doing GREAT!

      I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have other questions. I’m obsessed with kraut now and am always happy to help other people make it themselves. πŸ™‚

  18. I have been practicing BDS principles for close to a year, but my P&E salad was an exploding awful mess all 3 times I made it, so I gave up. Thanks to you, I am going to try again. After reading your story, I know my jars were too full. Thanks so much!

    • You are WELCOME! It totally makes my day to steer people back onto the raw kraut train– you have no idea. πŸ™‚ Glad I could be of assistance, and let me know if you have any questions. I’m an old pro at this raw kraut business now.

      • Dana!!

        I just unveiled my re-attempt and it is PERFECT! I believe my main mistake was not being careful enough when I sterilized the jars and lids. I also did just what you said and did not overfill the jars.

        I have been paying $11.99 (US) for a quart of raw kraut from the local farmers market, so you are my new BFF! Woohoo for poo! πŸ™‚

        • Angie!! Best friends FOREVER!!!! πŸ™‚
          Isn’t it miraculous to make your own, perfect kraut? (I also rejoice in the savings of making raw kraut at home instead of buying it from a store. SIMPLE PLEASURES, right?) Glad to hear everything turned out for the best and that you are now 100% converted to the Cult of Raw Kraut. We’re going to take over the world, I hope you know. Be ready!

  19. So I know that this post is old, but I started reading Kimberly Snyder’s book about a year ago and also tried to make the p and e salad. After making it, I opened the jar an the result just smelled rotten and gross. It tasted worse than that. After that, I gave up on making my own batches of sauerkraut and started buying it at Whole Foods. Now I’m addicted to their KimChi which had a little more kick to it!! I love your blog!

  20. Hi! Loved your post – it was laugh out loud funny πŸ™‚ I just read Kimberly’s book and I have my salad fermenting in the cupboard as we speak (day 4). I am concerned that the lids are puffed out at a weird angle (lot of air pressure going on). I hope the jars don’t explode in my cupboard tonight! I am planning to open the jars outside tomorrow. Should I expect a glass and cabbage explosion? I’m scared!!

    • Haha, it sounds like there is some pressure build up inside of the jars, but it probably won’t explode. Opening the jar outside for the first time is a great idea, though. Even if it doesn’t explode, it could be messy. Good luck!

  21. This post made me laugh so much πŸ™‚ And in a good way, with you, not at you! I have just embarked on my own kraut making journey using Kimberley Snyder’s recipe and am very grateful for your warning about opening a still fermenting jar away from my face! Very valuable advice. My first attempt also looked more like cabbage soup. And I am beyond relieved to read your comments above about the smell. Actually smell isn’t strong enough, stench or stink is more appropriate. I was worried I was poisoning myself but it actually tastes okay, provided I wear a peg on my nose so I don’t smell it! I’m going to try your ‘Royal Kraut’ recipe next. Does that smell as bad? Thank you for sharing your kraut journey, it’s provided me with help, reasurrance and smiles πŸ™‚

    • Hey there– thanks for stopping by! I’m happy to hear you had some laughs at my expense. πŸ˜‰ Royal Kraut is effin’ FANTASTIC, though I’m sorry to say that all krauts smell pretty bad. It sort of comes with the territory, but I seem to be used to the smell for the most part now. (Not sure if that’s a good thing or not?) Best of luck with the kraut-making journey, and please let me know if you ever have any questions.

  22. Hi Dana,

    This was an interesting and entertaining read! Ginger is antibacterial. Incorporating it into your kraut mixture would prevent the formation of healthy bacteria. If you’re only doing it for flavor then by all means proceed. Although it seems like you are more in for the benefits of a healthy digestive flora as a result. If so, then you would want to let your jars ferment for a month or two tops– no less than a month. This allows for the growth of all 3 stages of bacteria to flourish. Your Middle Sister is right– good salt and cabbage is all you need. I use pink Himalayan salt. Massaging the cabbage in the salt creates it’s own brine– no need for water at all. This is the best and healthiest way to do it.

    Cheers to fermenting.

    P.S. Always question! Including questioning that “guru” raw foodist.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! It’s been four years since I started experimenting with raw kraut, and I only used the ginger twice. I love the taste of ginger in general, but it didn’t feel quite right in the kraut. I didn’t realize that it would prevent the growth of the kraut bacteria, though it makes sense.

      All I use now is salt (Celtic or Himalayan) and a dash of caraway seeds, because I am obsessed with caraway. I love kraut! And yes, it is so important to ask questions. Always. This a lesson I’ve really taken to heart. πŸ™‚ xx

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