This recipe for simple lacto-fermented sauerkraut is one of the cheapest and easiest probiotic veggies you can make. Look no further for the best possible way to cultivate healthy gut flora with this probiotic superfood!
What is Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut?
Lacto-fermentation – All living things are covered in lactobacilli, especially fruits and vegetables that grow close to the ground. Lacto-fermentation occurs when these lactobacilli act on the sugars and starches present in fruits and vegetables to convert them into lactic acid. Lactic acid not only preserves food, it also drastically increases the vitamin content and promotes gut healthy flora in the intestines. (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, pg. 89)
Sauerkraut is a German word meaning “sour cabbage.” It’s basically cabbage that has been pickled in a brine of water and salt. This simple lacto-fermented sauerkraut is super easy to make and incredibly healthy!
Why Make Your Own Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut?
The Easiest Way to Get Started with Ferments
When starting out with something new like fermenting vegetables, it can be a little intimidating. However, this recipe in its purest form is just cabbage, salt, and time. You simply cannot get any easier than that!
Sauerkraut is an Incredibly Frugal Way to Get Probiotics!
There are so many healthy, whole food options available to us in our grocery stores today. That really is wonderful, but let’s face it, these products are usually outlandishly expensive. Not only is this recipe easy, it is the most frugal health food in existence. This is incredible when considering the long list of health benefits. There is a lot of bang for your buck when you make your own!
What Makes Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut So Healthy?
Sauerkraut is high in Vitamin C, which is really good for your immune system. It is has high amounts of Choline which is known to lower blood pressure. Choline also assists in the assimilation of nutrients and aids the metabolism of fats. Because of the process of lacto-fermentation, sauerkraut also has probiotics which build healthy flora in the gut, aiding in digestion. (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, pg. 101)
Sauerkraut in History
- Sauerkraut and rice made up the entire diet of the workers that built the Great Wall of China 2600 years ago!
- The legions of Julius Caesar ate grains ground into meal, mixed with salted cabbage. Pliny was a Roman who wrote the world’s first encyclopedia. He claimed that “cabbage kept Rome out of the hands of physicians for many centuries.”
- The Mongols discovered sauerkraut when they invaded China. Apparently they found it a convenient food for traveling to new conquests. They also introduced it to Eastern Europeans where it became a mainstay of their cuisine as well. (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, pg. 467)
- Captain James Cook was a famed British navigator in the 1770’s. When he made his second voyage to map the Pacific, he took 60 barrels of sauerkraut with him. After sailing for over two years, he never lost one crew member to scurvy. It was a feat completely unheard of at the time! (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, pg. 95)
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Equipment Needed to Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut:
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Mortar (I just used a spoon)
- Glass Jars with Lids
- Canning Funnel
- Knife, Cutting Board, Spatula, etc.
Simple Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut Recipe:
Starla’s Original Recipe
This is the traditional method for making sauerkraut in Eastern European countries.
- 1 Medium Cabbage
- 1 Tablespoon of Sea Salt (This is all about taste! You may want more sea salt.)
- You can also add dried or fresh dill. (This is also to taste, but I suggest 1 teaspoon dried.)
- First, slice the cabbage into thin strips and place in a large bowl. You will definitely want the extra room!
- Next, sprinkle the salt over it and crush the cabbage and salt with a mortar. (You can also squeeze it with clean hands if you don’t have a mortar.)
- When you have sufficient juice from the cabbage, fill your jars, making sure the cabbage is submerged under the liquid. You can add extra salt water to the top if needed.
- This is anaerobic lacto-fermentation, so make sure each jar is sealed with a lid.
- Lastly, cover the jars with a tea towel and allow them to sit at room temperature for a couple of days until slightly bubbly.
- You might need to “burp” the lids each morning, as the process of fermentation expands vegetables and juices, building up pressure.
- This recipe makes between 1 to 2 quarts, depending on the size of your cabbage.
- Refrigerate up to a year. The older the sauerkraut, the better it is!
Shanna’s Variation as Seen in the Video:
- Green Cabbage sliced thin
- Red Cabbage sliced thin
- Large Onion halved and sliced thin
- 2-3 Carrots grated
- 1 TBSP Sea Salt per Cabbage
This was my attempt to appease picky eaters in my house. I add carrots and onions to my sauerkraut to give it a nice flavor.
Carrots and onions are also classified as prebiotics. This means they feed the probiotics during the process of fermentation. They give this superfood a boost! I also use both red and green cabbage because red cabbage is higher in vitamin C, and green cabbage has more choline.
Helpful Books About Lacto-Fermentation:
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Cultured Foods for Health: A Guide to Healing Yourself With Probiotic Foods by Donna Schwenk
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods by Wardeh Harmon
Frequently Asked Questions About Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut:
How Long to Ferment Cabbage?
This depends on the temperature of your home. If your house is warm, it might take 2-3 days. However, if your house is cool, it may take 3-4 days.
How do you know Sauerkraut is ready?
You will see little bubbles floating up in the jar and it should have a pleasant, pickled smell. Then it is ready to place in the fridge to slow the fermentation process.
Can Fermented Sauerkraut Give you Botulism?
Just like with all food preservation, you must use some common sense. Make sure all equipment used is sterilized and your work surfaces are clean. If your fermented veggies stink, have mold, or are discolored, pitch them into the compost!