Crazy Sauerkraut Lady

(Recipe included at the bottom of the post.)

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I’ve come a long way since my first foray into making raw sauerkraut at home. I started out with a great deal of trepidation, reluctance, and even a bit of nose-wrinkled condescension towards the lowly cabbage. Yes, I was making kraut, but it wasn’t because I enjoyed eating it or felt that I benefited from consuming it. Nope. I was just making it because Kimberly (nutritionist and overall goddess) said I should, and I am nothing if not obedient.

Well, dear readers, have I ever turned a page in that book! I now enjoy boatloads of raw kraut– every day!– and I even have a hard time jarring enough of it at home to keep up with my frenetic, kraut-consuming pace. Our cupboards and fridge are filled with jars of kraut, and I even bring smaller jars of it with me in my purse if I know that we will be eating out or visiting with friends. (Yes, you heard me correctly. I am your Nerdy Friend who will show up at your door with a small Mason jar of sauerkraut. To make matters worse, I rarely bring enough to share! I’ll just cover the bases for Marty and I and leave you– my host– scratching your head and wondering when the heck I became so possessive of my cabbage. <– To explain my sauerkraut stinginess: Experience has shown me that most people– shockingly– aren’t all that enthusiastic to partake in a raw sauerkraut munch-down, and there’s no way I’m wasting my homemade kraut on anybody who is less than on-their-knees grateful for it. So I generally only bring enough for Marty and I. Just so you know.)

1.5 *gallons* of kraut at the ready... sorry, not enough to share!

1.5 *gallons* of kraut at the ready… but sorry, there’s not enough to share!

Anyway.

It nearly killed me to start this epic road trip of ours, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to take a crate of raw sauerkraut with me across the border. You’re (usually) allowed to bring (certain) food items across “for personal consumption”, but I was pretty sure that a border guard wouldn’t greet gallons of sauerkraut jars with kindness or understanding. ‘What’s that glass clinking sound coming from the back of your van? Are you a bootlegger? Wait a second– what on earth is that smell?? Smells like… rotten cabbage!’ Awkward…

I pictured myself hollering “ALL THIS SAUERKRAUT IS FOR ME, OFFICER, I SWEAR IT!! THERE’S NO WAY I WOULD TRY TO SELL IT!” as I was being dragged off to Border Violations Prison, and then I had the horrific vision of being forced to throw away all of my raw sauerkraut in front of a guard’s watchful eyes before being permitted to dock in Port Angeles, WA. What a waste of good bacteria! It was too much to bear. Yes, I am a Crazy Sauerkraut Lady, but I’m not an International, Border-Regulations-Flouting Crazy Sauerkraut Lady. Hence, I packed a solitary, small-ish jar of kraut in our cooler and braced myself for around 2 weeks without the good stuff.

Almost all of our lunches and dinners are topped with a generous portion of kraut. This wasn't the case on our road trip.

Almost all of our lunches and dinners now are topped with a generous portion of kraut. This wasn’t the case AT ALL on our road trip.

After painstakingly rationing out that one jar of kraut and making it last as looooong as possible, we were faced with the great, kraut-less unknown. I’m not going to lie: both Marty and I suffered without regular doses of raw kraut en route to Arizona. Our bodies had become accustomed to healthy portions of probiotics on a daily basis, and the combination of being on the road + camping + eating for convenience (oh, hello gluten!) + sauerkraut withdrawal proved to be pretty deadly. Let’s just say that I nearly wept at the altar of Whole Foods when we finally rolled into Tucson and purchased several “transition” jars of raw kraut to tie us over until I could make our own again.

I am now in the process of buying canning jars so that I can whip us up an apocalyptic amount of raw sauerkraut for our two month visit. Yes. I’m buying jars. That I will eventually leave in Tucson when we head back up to Canada. I am nuts for kraut! (And for some strange reason, every grocery store in Canada seems to sell canning jars and supplies, but none of the grocery stores in Tucson do. I had to google search “canning jars + Tucson” to discover that jars are mainly sold in hardware stores here. Insane? Yes! Now I just need to find me a hardware store. I already bought six organic cabbages at Whole Foods. They are waiting for the jars.)

And finally– the recipe part! I am no longer making kraut the way it is specified in Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Solution book. That recipe calls for miso paste and ginger, neither of which I am using anymore. Instead, I’m keeping it simple and kicking it old school. Read on if you’d like to try making what I call “Royal Kraut”… which is basically purple and red kraut instead of the usual green version. 🙂

Royal Kraut (Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free)

You Will Need

Sterilized mason jars with tight-fitting lids

Wooden spoon

Food preparation gloves (highly recommended)

Large purple cabbage

2-3 red beets

1-2 tsp high-quality sea salt or celtic salt

1 tsp caraway seeds (or to taste)

½ cup filtered water

Heh. Even though this receipe is for red cabbage/beet kraut, most of the photos in this post will be of green cabbage. Just use your imagination and pretend that everything is a healthy shade of purple.

Heh. Even though this receipe is for red cabbage/beet kraut, most of the photos in this post will be of green cabbage. Just use your imagination and pretend that everything is a healthy shade of purple.

How To Make It

  1. Remove outside leaves of the cabbage (approx. 5-6 leaves) and set aside for later.
  2. Chop rest of cabbage into thin ribbons and place into large mixing bowl.
  3. Shred beets using the grating blade on a food processor (easiest) or using a cheese grater (good luck!). Add to cabbage in large mixing bowl.
  4. Add sea salt and caraway seeds to mixing bowl, and use your (gloved) hands to coat kraut well. Dr. Obvious Warns: Beets will stain your hands, countertops, and anything else if given the chance. Use caution and try not to touch with your bare hands! (Also: do not wear a white shirt while making this recipe!)
  5. Once kraut mixture has been well coated with salt and caraway, use your gloved hands to stuff it, bit by bit, into your mason jars. Add a small layer of kraut and then use the handle of the wooden spoon to pound the air out of the layer before adding more cabbage to the jar. You want to make the mixture as anaerobic (air-free) as possible to avoid mould and to allow the friendly bacteria to flourish.
  6. Continue adding kraut mixture to the jar, layer by layer, pounding out excess air throughout, until there is between 1 and 2 inches of free space left near the mouth of your jar.
  7. Roll outside leaves of the cabbage into tight, burrito-style rolls and stuff on top of the shredded kraut mixture. The aim is to pack the jar as tightly as possible, right up to the top with the rolled outer leaves.
  8. Slowly add filtered water to the jar, until it levels with the shredded kraut mixture (not all the way up to the top of the jar). Unless your jar is very large (or you didn’t pack enough air out of the mixture), you will need very little water in your jar. A half a cup is a generous amount– I usually use more like 1/4 cup water or less.
  9. Slide the lid onto your mason jar and close it to make an airtight seal.
  10. Label your jar with the date, and leave it in a dark cupboard to ferment for between 4 days (warmer climates) and 4 weeks (cooler climates). Kraut does best in a room temperature environment, and cooler locales will take longer to ferment.
  11. When kraut is ready to consume, break airtight seal on jar, discard outer cabbage leaves, and fork as much cabbage onto your plate as you desire. (I eat between ½ cup and 1 cup of kraut every single day, with any type of meal—except breakfast.)
  12. Store opened jars of kraut in the fridge and consume within 2 months.
Chopping. Some like it thin, some like it coarse.

Chopping. Some like it thin, some like it coarse.

Kraut layer, pre-pounding.

Kraut layer, pre-pounding.

Packed-in shredded cabbage leaves, waiting for burrito-style outer leaves to finish off the jar.

Packed-in shredded cabbage leaves, waiting for burrito-style outer leaves to finish off the jar.

Special Notes:

If your kraut develops a black mould or film on the top of the jar while it is fermenting, believe it or not, the rest of the jar should be okay to eat. (The mould will develop where there are still air bubbles.) Simply pick off the mouldy bits and chow down on the kraut further down the jar… using your common sense, of course.

Kraut can sit in a cupboard fermenting for longer than 4 weeks, too. Longer sitting periods make for a tangier kraut in the end. Do not fear the healthy bacteria!

Fermented kraut will taste zesty, a bit salty, and almost like a pickle (i.e. vinegar-y). It is an acquired taste (at least it was for me), but once you get familiar with it, you may find yourself shoveling it back with no restraint whatsoever (at least I did/still do).

Use organic ingredients, the highest quality of sea salt you can afford (not iodized or table salt), and filtered/distilled water (not tap water). Table salt and/or tap water can disrupt the naturally occurring enzymes and living cultures inside the cabbage, making your kraut-making adventures a waste of time, ingredients, energy, and money.

Everything is ready to go!

Everything is ready to go!

Variations on the theme:

Make kraut with red or green cabbage (or both)

Use caraway seeds or not. Try adding dill, fennel seeds, dried sea weeds, shredded ginger root, etc. Make the kraut yours!

Sub shredded carrots or golden beets for the red beets, or just go with a simple cabbage mixture.

Some people use special sauerkraut crocks, but all you really need is a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Questions? Holler at me! I’m determined to convert the whole of North America to raw kraut eating, so if anything needs to be clarified or elaborated upon, just let me know. Otherwise, enjoy your Royal Kraut! It’s so good… and good for you. xo

80 responses

  1. Although I’ve never made it myself I agree that homemade Kraut is nothing like the canned stuff. Tasty and very welcome in the body. Good luck making Kraut in Tuscon. Temperature matters and Kraut likes it cool.

    • So far, so good Lisa. Feb is actually the ‘coldest’ month in Tucson, so it never really gets above room temperature in our suite. I’ve kept my still-fermenting kraut snuggling in the back of a cupboard near the floor– cooler and dark. In the meantime, I’ve been eating that Bubby’s brand of kraut, but it’s nowhere near as good as the stuff I make myself. Come on, healthy bacteria!

  2. Like Lisa (in the comment above me), I’ve never made kraut myself, either. But my husband and I love the stuff.

    They sell it in glass jars (not cans) at the little Mexican grocery store in our town. Interestingly, they stock it in their ethnic aisle because it’s from Bavaria.

    • Helpful kraut tip, courtesy of the Crazy Sauerkraut Lady: If you are wanting to eat kraut for probiotic reasons, only buy the jars that are kept in the cooler and aren’t pasteurized. Most (and possibly all) krauts on a shelf in the grocery store have been flash heated (pasteurized) and have therefore totally killed the good bacteria. (Most of them also use vinegar and/or wine to fake the taste of the raw kraut. Still very tasty, but completely devoid of the live enzyme cultures.)

      Hmm… can you tell I love talking about kraut? I could go on and on and on and on…. 😉

  3. I have not made kraut, but my Dad did every year with cabbage he grew. He had discs that fit in the crocks, that he could put a brick on, that forced the air out and kept it out as the cabbage condensed. How did you know you needed it, and what exactly is it doing for you? Thanks!

    • Sauerkraut geek secret: I am planning to buy one of those special crocks. They normally retail for a ridiculous amount of money ($150? Um, no thank you), but I might have an ‘in’ with a wholesaler to get them for at least half that price. Still a ridiculous amount of money to pay to make *sauerkraut*, but my little homesteader heart covets those crocks.

      I was told for a number of reasons that I should try raw kraut:
      1. For rosacea
      2. For candida
      3. To help promote better digestion (mine errs on the super sluggish side)
      4. To combat pesky GI issues, including (for me) mostly bloating.

      It took a while for me to heed the advice, and once I started eating kraut, it took a while (maybe a few weeks?) to start noticing a difference. However, when it started to kick in, it was like I had flipped a switch from “Terrible GI Issues” to “She-Ra of Digestion and Overall Health!!!”. (I should probably throw a few more exclamation points in there. It really felt great!)

      The probiotic cultures and natural enzymes in the kraut make digestion WAY easier on the body, and they also help flush out a lot of the waste and toxins that I think were just cycling around and around my gut before. Eating raw kraut on a regular basis makes me feel more energetic (because I’m not wasting all of my energy on trying to break down my meals), and I also just feel ‘cleaner’, if that makes any sense. I am a supreme nerd (as we all know), but before kraut, it felt like my gut was a seedy hangout on the wrong side of the tracks, populated with shady characters with suspect motivations. Now that I eat raw kraut, though, my gut is more like a hippie commune, with lots of peace, love, and good vibrations. 🙂

      *End super nerdy analogy*

    • Yeah! Coast to coast kraut sisters! (We can be like Kraut Gangs if you want. I’ll play Tupac and you can be Notorious B.I.G. Except neither of us will get shot or die a violent death. We’ll both just sing the praises of raw kraut!)

  4. Okay, I hate to confess this, but I hate kraut! I always have. I only pray they don’t make me eat it along with guinnea pig in Ecuador. Don’t even know if I’m spelling the word correctly. That’s how freaked out I am by the thought of it!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • I remember you saying that you didn’t like kraut, Kathy. I can see where you’re coming from, being a person who loathed every form of kraut before. That said, if I had to choose between eating raw kraut and a guinea pig, take a wild guess which one I would pick… 😉
      Hope everything is going well with the Ecuador prep!

    • Oh, the horrors of 80s store-bought kraut. I remember biting into a dumpling of some sort when I was a kid, realizing that there was kraut in there, and spitting it out with projectile force. I couldn’t STAND the stuff! Raw kraut is so different– and so much better. May nobody have to suffer through gross store-bought kraut ordeals ever again!

  5. Hmmmm. I’ve wanted to get into canning for the longest time but I must admit that kraut is not on the top of my list. Sucks too that you will have all those jars and have to leave them down there, but it makes sense. Hardware store? What the?! Doesn’t the grocery store tie in with canning more than the store that sells hammers?

    • Makes sense to me, but everyone I asked in a grocery store about jars gave me a look of pure pity and said something along the lines of “nobody buys jars anymore… for anything”. Still. Hardware stores? Thank goodness for Google!

      Raw kraut is a super easy way to venture into canning, because you don’t need to worry about getting the gigantic canning pot or heating/sterilizing the jars once they’re filled with stuff. You basically use super clean jars from the get go and then shove them in a cupboard once they’re filled. The lazy woman’s guide to canning. 🙂

  6. I really really want to make this. Thank you SO much for sharing, Dana. We learned on the macrobiotic diet that raw fermented foods are so good for you. Have always wanted to try making some of this but never have. Hope this will provide the added boost to try some. ASAP. Thank you again.

    • My pleasure, Kathy! I have reached a tipping point with my desire to experiment with new, raw fermented foods. I think I’m going to try making some kimchi, and then I’ll *try* kombucha. We’ll see how that goes!

      I hope the recipe is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions at all– it took me a few tries to get it right, but it’s really simple once you get the hang of it. Good luck!

    • Making a batch and eating it right away would have lots of vitamins in it but negligible amounts of the healthy probiotic cultures, so yes– it would sort of defeat the purpose. The cabbage needs to have some time in an air-free place to develop the healthy bacteria and enzymes, so you’ve either got to mason jar it or buy a special kraut crock and let that cabbage sit for a while. (PS: As a full-on mason jar addict, I’m always surprised to discover that not everybody feels the same. Truly: I covet canning jars.)

  7. Hello Dana,
    You had me in stitches reading this! Brilliant!
    I WILL soon take the plunge and make this. I’m moving in the next week or so then I’ll get me some lovely mason jars (do you find a particular size best?), a massive cabbage and get going.

    Thanks for this post, it’s definitely a hold-your-hand guide – no excuses now 🙂

    Nic

    • Hey Nic! Thanks for the positive feedback. You MUST make the kraut now. Like you say– zero excuses!

      I find bigger jars work better than smaller ones, mainly because you use fewer outer cabbage leaves with one big jar than you would with 4 smaller jars. Plus. we go through jars like nobody’s business, so it’s nice when a larger jar can last us longer than 2 days. 🙂 I was able to find half-gallon jars here in the US, which are considerably larger than I normally use. However, I totally love them and am now planning ways to bring all 6 of them back to Canada with us. Just haven’t told Marty about this yet…

      • I will let you know how it goes when I do. I will join your revolution 🙂
        I’m not sure what size mason jars we have in our shops as we use litres over here. But it’ll be fun to explore. I won’t breathe a word about your. jar smuggling 🙂

        • Obviously, we use litres in Canada as well. The smallest size of jar I use for kraut is 750mL at home, and I have ones that are 1L and 1.5L as well. The half gallon jars I bought here are close to 2L (1.89L to be exact). They’re AWESOME!

          (Am finding the conversion rates from metric to imperial really challenging here. Luckily, we have a GPS that converts all of the speed limits to km, and my weather app also lists all the temps in C. You can take the canuck out of Canada…)

  8. PS. I find it very interesting that you have noticed a difference big time in eating it (and also your body missing it). I have been taking probiotics for a while, but I don’t feel it’s making that much difference – I suspect my gut is not happy and cant absorb the pills so well. I love the idea of a natural food substance slowly but surely restoring gut health. Woo hoo!

    • Hey again! I notice a way bigger difference with kraut than I do with probiotic supplements. I was taking Natren Dairy Free probiotic pills daily (until my package ran out and I was too cheap to buy more), but honestly– the food sources seem to work way better with my body anyway.

      While we are in the US, I won’t be buying or using probiotic supplements. I’m just going to stick to kraut. When we get back to Canada, I’m either going to try out Dr. Ohira’s brand of probiotic supplements (which I hear great things about, aside from the fact that they supposedly cost millions of dollars), or I’m going to experiment with the dairy free version of Bio-K. Maybe it’s the pill format that doesn’t seem to be doing either of our bodies any great favours? I’ll find out in mid-April. 🙂

      • I look forward to hearing how your body is without the supplements whilst you’re in the US. I suspect it will adapt perfectly well.

        My master plan is to make the kraut whilst I still have probiotic supplements, then when I run out, see how it fairs with just the kraut. I agree with what you say about maybe the pill format not doing our bosies any favours. I believe more and more that nature and our bodies know best!

        • So far, it’s been fine without the supplements. If I can get away with only taking real food doses of probiotics, it will definitely save a lot of money. 🙂

          (Though I do feel that super doses of probiotics in a supplement form can be beneficial when dealing with acute conditions– candida overgrowth, antibiotic use, healing leaky gut, etc. Maybe once our digestive and immune systems are back on track, food sources of probiotics are sufficient.)

    • Let’s not forget that I used to HATE sauerkraut with a fiery passion. The raw stuff tastes way different than the wine/vinegar/sad/limp/boiled to death stuff from the stores, at least to me. Raw kraut still has a decent crunch to it, plus it has a bit of zip (taste-wise) because of the probiotics. Obviously, you don’t *have* to try it, but your GI tract’s heart might break a tiny bit if you don’t. 😉

  9. Dear Sauerkraut Lady, I posted a link to this blog on FB. Hope at least six of my friends visit and check you out. Hey, I made the sauerkraut today! Question. How do I know how long to wait? Can you peek after a week? After two weeks? We live in cold climes but feature a hot wood stove. How does one know when to break the seal? Please advise, SL.

    • Thanks, Kathy! Your six FB friends are always welcome over in these parts. 🙂

      So excited to hear that you’re trying to make kraut! I could (and maybe should?) devote a whole post to the ‘Checking In On’ and ‘Opening’ phases of the kraut process.

      1. I check in on my jars every day for the first 3-4 days, just to make sure I haven’t overfilled them with water and that they aren’t on the verge of exploding. (Puddles around the bottom of the jar are a good indication that it is TOO FULL to accommodate the fermenting process properly. If this ever happens to you, open the jar CAREFULLY in a sink, let out a bit of the water, close it back up and pretend the whole thing never happened. The jar will still turn out fine if you break the seal at some point during the fermentation process.)

      2. When I check on my precious jars, I gently and slowly invert them about 3/4 of the way (i.e. point the lid about 45 degrees towards the floor). I watch the water trickle in between the kraut ribbons and mostly just stare in awe at the magic that is taking place right before my eyes (even though said magic is usually not discernible to my eyes, unless the jar is about to explode, in which case it will be obvious. Leaking jar, fizzing noises, etc.)

      3. The first time I ever made kraut, I let it sit for 9 days. Kimberly Snyder’s original recipe said a minimum of 4 days, but honestly– I’ve never declared a jar done unless it’s been at least 9 days now (my arbitrary benchmark.) Even in Tucson, I let my jar sit for 10 days, and the other ones will sit for 2.5- 3.5 weeks or so before I’ll be ready to eat them. If in doubt, err on the side of more days. Once you open the jar and put it in the fridge, the fermentation process will slow down A LOT (almost stopping), and I’d rather not rush my probiotics. Maybe that’s just me.

      4. Some visual cues that your kraut is done: green cabbage will have turned yellowish, and purple cabbage/beets will be a deep pink hue (like store-bought pickled beets. PINK!) Some people talk about seeing tiny bubbles, but I don’t know how to ascertain the readiness of kraut based on bubbles alone. I would give your kraut my magic 9 days and see how it is then.

      5. Worst case scenario: you open your kraut jar, pick off the top outer leaves, and sample a few shreds before deciding it isn’t fermented enough. Just put the leaves back on the top, seal your jar, and let it sit for longer. No big deal– just try to get as much air out of the jar as possible before you seal it up again. Kraut isn’t so fragile that it will spoil if you look at it the wrong way. My experiences have suggested that kraut can withstand a whole lot of checking/opening/re-sealing/etc. and still be hella good.

      I hope this helps! Did you try making it with beets and red cabbage, or with green cabbage? Can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

  10. Thank you for the new recipe! I did give the miso and ginger kraut a try shortly after you posted that recipe, but I didn’t care for it very much. I found that odd because I love kraut, miso, and ginger. I guess I just don’t love them when they’re all put together. I’m looking forward to giving this one a try. 🙂

    • I hope this one works out better for you, Robin! I stopped making the ginger miso recipe after about 3 or 4 batches. I enjoyed it, but my sister is a kraut purist and hated the idea of anything besides sea salt being added to the cabbage. She easily won me over to the simple side. (Such a pushover sometimes!) Let me know if you have any questions, and once again– I hope this recipe captures your heart! 🙂

    • Thanks, Christina! Kraut is a great place to start with canning, because (as I mentioned in an earlier comment), it really is a lazy version of ‘real’ canning. You don’t need to worry about vacuum seals or super sterilization. The whole point of fermentation is to get things growing on the inside! 🙂

  11. Blargh…that posted too soon. I also wanted to say that I COMPLETELY identify with your possessiveness about a food (I deal with this all the time…however, the specific food of my obsession changes every several months) I loved your hilarious description of crossing the border with your jars of contraband…again, it’s something I have played out in my head too. I am constantly taking my favorite food items on planes to other countries and often have to lie (shhhh…don’t tell anyone!) on customs forms about what foods I’m bringing in and then thinking about how I’d have to explain that it’s not really food, but more like medicine (like what insulin is to a diabetic) to the customs officers if I ever got caught.
    When you were in SF, I would loved to have taken you to Rainbow Grocery, Whole Foods, or Berkeley Bowl where you can get some amazing raw sauerkraut. Next time!!

    • Part of me wanted to chance it with the border crossing, but ultimately, the thought of potentially wasting so much kraut changed my mind. It literally would have broken my heart to throw it out! (But the ‘food as medicine’ defense is a good one. I’ll have to remember that for things I’m not hauling over the border in gigantic quantities.)

  12. I tried making this over a year ago – that’s how I initially found your site – after buying Kimberly’s book the previous November, but I never did get around to trying it, because I was afraid I’d messed it up. I’ve since made it perfectly, just once, and then it went to waste. I really need to make it again.

    Your first post on this made me laugh, because I was also afraid of poisoning myself, and my mother. 😀

    • Thanks for the comment, Angela! I’ll admit, it took a few times to get the ‘making’ part right, and even after I was making it properly, it took a while for me to actually eat it. 🙂 Keep at it, though, and you just might find that your trepidation transforms into a torrid sauerkraut love affair. It did for me!

  13. Pingback: The crazy purple exploding mess… | Lake Superior Spirit

    • We actually woke up *super early* this morning to visit a gorgeous mission outside of town and take in the early morning ceremony. I’m beat, but I LOVED your sauerkraut story. Thank you for sharing your adventures with cabbage! 🙂

  14. Is it supposed to smell kind of bad……..Whew I opened my can it seemed like it was going to bubble over and then whew it didn’t smell like it would taste delish. Also my water is cloudy……is that okay too? I just want to know before i eat it ha ha!

    • Hi Jeannette! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Both of your questions are totally valid: kraut doesn’t *seem* like it should be good for you based on the gross smell, but no worries– that terrible rotten smell is the way it’s supposed to be. I promise it doesn’t taste as disgusting as it smells. It actually tastes tangy and sour like a pickle.

      Re: cloudy brine– the water is definitely swampy after the kraut has been allowed to ferment. When I make kraut using red cabbage, I end up with a deep pink liquid at the bottom of the jar. It’s not at all translucent. When I make kraut with green cabbage, I end up with a yellowish brine at the bottom. The pictures in this particular post are all of the kraut on the day I made it, i.e. none of them show what kraut looks like after it’s been fermenting for a while. In any case, don’t worry about the cloudiness! As long as you don’t have mould (which will be black and obvious), you’re good to go. You can do it! 🙂

  15. I did it! I tried it!
    It’s odd. Not sure if I like it or not, but I’m gonna keep at it. Not really much stinky smell. It was like a weird vinegar flavour. Is that right?
    I think it needs flavouring of some kind next time.

    We’ll see 🙂

    • YAY! You did it!

      The stink might not be overpowering. Just like a cabbage smell, but magnified. (I happen to think cabbage smells pretty rank on a good day, so the smell STILL catches me off guard when I first open a jar. Still.)
      The vinegary taste is what you are going for, but if it’s not wowing you, I would definitely try jazzing it up with some flavours you enjoy. It took me a good year to adjust to the taste of kraut, but now I crave it when it’s been a day or more in between my kraut fixes. (And yes, I am actually trying to smuggle jars back to Canada… if they survive that long without Marty and I devouring them.)

  16. Dana –

    I actually just opened my fermented cababge two days ago, and a bubbly soapy (kinda like opening a can of soda after shaking it for so long) gush out my jar which has a really funky smell. After all is settled I put the lid back on and put it in the refrigerator and have not touched it since – I guess im scared to try it. So does that mean the kraut is good even though I had the soappy bubbly soup come out the jar when I opened it?

    • It’s PERFECT, Haydee! The fermentation process creates a carbonated effect, so many times, the liquid will fizz all over everything when you first break the seal on the jar. (After that, it goes ‘flat’ just like soda when you leave it out or close the bottle again). That’s why I recommend using the bare minimum of water needed– any excess water is going to froth all over the lid of the jar when you first open it. I’ve even had an ‘exploding’ effect (nasty kraut smell all over my body and clothes!). As long as your kraut isn’t black or mildewy, it is totally fine to eat. Test out a small forkful to make sure, but it will probably taste zesty, acidic, and crunchy. YOU DID IT, GIRL! 🙂

    • Oh and I did have leaky jar and fizzing noises, what did I do wrong then did i stuffed it with enough water/ overfilled it? Can I still eat the kraut then?

      • You actually didn’t do anything wrong, Haydee. I still haven’t figured out the perfect water/cabbage ratio, so sometimes I have leaks and fizziness and other times it’s less dramatic than that. The kraut is still safe to eat. Just make sure it’s not rotten– black, slimy, or mouldy. Otherwise, it should be perfectly fine!

        • It definitely not black its yellowish, not slimy and I did not see any mold. Thank you so very much this is very helpful! I have been tyring to get an answer as to what may have happened and if its okay to eat. Kimberly has a video and how to do it and its great but she never discuss things when you open it and what are the possible things that can happen – just like one of yours exploding. Your blog about the kraut inspire me to make it again, of course after I have eaten this first batch (hopefully it will go down easily and I acquire the taste). After all practice make perfect.

          Thanks again!

          • I appreciate the feedback, Haydee! I’m planning to do my first ever ‘vlog’ on opening a jar of kraut. I think it’s super important to get a visual on what it should look like, what it will sound like when the jar opens, and maybe even how to deal with exploding kraut fizz everywhere. 🙂 I’ve just learned by trial and error, but it would be awesome for somebody to see up front how things will look from start to finish. 🙂

            PS: It is an acquired taste, for sure, but now that I love it, I REALLY LOVE IT. I am totally an all or nothing person in many situations, and I went from HATING sauerkraut/cabbage in general to being completely obsessed with it. I seriously crave it. 🙂

  17. So the 5 days Kimberly Snyder (and some other people) recommends in her books, isn’t long enough? I bought her Beauty Detox Foods book, and I want to start the plan already.

    • Hi Marisa,
      Five days works in some climates and in some cupboards. I live in Canada and have a drafty kitchen, so I usually let my kraut sit for a lot longer before I open it. (Three weeks, sometimes six weeks, even two months!) That said, a lot of the good bacteria have already developed within the 5 day window. Over time, I’ve just come to appreciate a stronger taste in my kraut and choose to let it sit longer. It’s a personal preference, though, and like I say– in some climates (Florida, anyone?), five days is PLENTY LONG ENOUGH. I hope this clarifies things, but if you have other questions, please let me know!
      (PS: If you want to get started on the plan right away, you can always buy some transition kraut from a natural foods store. Lots of stores sell raw kraut– just make sure it’s actually raw, though, and not pasteurized and sitting on some shelf for god knows how long…)

  18. Hi Dana 🙂

    I just attempted my 1st jar of kraut. It’s been sitting in my cupboard for 5 days (I will take your advise and wait 9 days, of course!). My question is regarding the lid…it is dented and bubbled out and it did leak a bit in the first couple of days. I really thought I packed it well…maybe too much water? Thank-you for all your help and lovely directions in making kraut.

  19. Hi there! I just finished my first batch of raw kraut (I LOATHED kraut before as well, but after I tasted my first bite of raw kraut I was hooked and so was my tummy). Anyway, the jar in my fridge has gone incredibly fizzy. Is this normal? I tried a taste test and it seemed ok, if not just a little more “briney” than I am used to. So glad to have found your site, I am subscribing! Thanks 🙂

    • Fizz should be fine, but slime, fuzz, and blackness are not. Usually the fizz just means that your cabbage is continuing to ferment despite being in the fridge. I would tip a bit of the brine out of your jar, put it back in the fridge, and continue munching on!

      I have been totally MIA on the internet lately. Thanks for following, but don’t be surprised if you soon come up on the last post I wrote (half a year ago). Feel free to comment or e-mail me with other questions– I still exist but just haven’t posted in FOREVER!

    • No accessories needed! Just close the jar– slide the lid onto the mouth of the jar sideways (rather than trapping air in there by putting it straight down). Even if you get this comment tomorrow and “did it wrong”, just close the jar and your kraut will be fine. No fancy maneuvers needed!

  20. I left my kraut for a week withoutopening it . Now I’m told I made carbonated kraut. Is that bad for you. It’s not rotten or mouldy just crunchy and vinegary I put in dill and parsley with it. My stomach does feel gassy, windy etc and I’ve not eaten more than a teaspoon every other day.

    Also what to do with the juice. I’ve been wanting to try it as a healing lotion for bites and stings. I didn’t put a lot of salt in mine so it shouldn’t be too salty but then heck, I don’t k ow what’s in there.

    Seems a shame to throw away the goodness .

    • Wowza– I don’t know why it took me six months to see this comment, but welcome! Mild carbonation is totally normal and expected– that’s the bacteria flourishing and getting ready to do your GI system some good. Dill and parsely = yum!

      Based on my experience, it will take more than 1tsp per day to notice a difference in stomach/intestinal issues. I eat between 1/2 cup and 1 cup every single day, and the kraut makes a huge, noticeable, positive difference on my digestion. It’s truly amazing!

      Finally– the juice. I don’t use a ton of water when I make my kraut (like 1/4 cup of water per 2L jar), so there’s not a whole lot of juice at the bottom of the jar anyway. I dump it. My late, great grandfather, though, used to drink Sauerkraut Juice as an internal tonic of sorts. (This makes me want to dry heave, but different strokes, right?) I still err on the side of “DUMP IT”. 😉

  21. Pingback: Fermented Food: If It Doesn’t Poison You, It Will Make You Healthier (…Right?) | zona pellucida

  22. Pingback: What Happened The Last Time You Lost Weight? | zona pellucida

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