What is sauerkraut? Sauerkraut (“sour cabbage” in German) is a naturally fermented raw salad that’s easy to make at home with very few tools. This batch is made from green cabbage, carrots, and fennel fronds for extra flavor.

As I’ve gotten more adventurous with my foods, and learned more about the health benefits of raw foods, I’ve been trying new things. Sauerkraut is not to be confused with cooked cabbage, which I detest. It’s crispy and has a pleasantly sour taste, and is supposed to be good for digestion and general health. I like adding other vegetables to the cabbage, including beets, carrots, and some kind of herb like fennel. You can also add hot peppers to it to head in the kimchi direction.

Suitable for:
vegan, gluten-free, reduced-sugar diets

Not for:
low-sodium, low-tyramine, or migraine diets

Here’s the how-to video.

Makes 6-8 cups, at least 12-14 servings (this varies widely with the size of the cabbage and the amount of other vegetables you add)


  • crock (I use my crockpot) or a food-grade plastic bucket
  • flat-bottomed cup or bottle to mash down the vegetables as you pack the crock
  • plate that fits inside the crock
  • clean rock or jug of water (for weight)*
  • kitchen towel



How to make sauerkraut

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings


  • 1 head cabbage green or red
  • 3-4 carrots large
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1-2 tbsp sea salt kosher salt


  • Wash the vegetables.
  • Set a large bowl on the counter, with the salt next to it. As you shred the veggies, add them to the bowl. Sprinkle each layer lightly with salt. (You can make this without salt, although it will not be as crispy.)
  • Remove any wilted outer leaves, then cut the cabbage in quarters and remove the hard core. Using a sharp knife or a food processor fitted with a shredder disk, shred or finely slice the cabbage.
  • Shred or grate the carrots.
  • Remove any hard stems from the fennel, then finely chop.
  • Mix everything together thoroughly. The salt draws the water out of the vegetables and creates a natural brine.
  • Pack the crock, using the flat-bottomed cup to mash each layer flat, removing any air. Once you have all the vegetables in there, put the plate on top and press down. You should already have a fair bit of brine (salty liquid). Add the weight. Press again.
  • You need to have the liquid rise above the level of the plate, so that the vegetables are not in contact with air (otherwise you will get mold, not fermentation). This usually happens within a few hours. If it hasn't happened overnight, then make 1 cup of salt water by mixing 1 T. (5 g) of salt with 1 C. (250 ml) of filtered water and pour it in.
  • Put a clean kitchen towel over the crock. This allows air to do its magic while keeping insects and dust out. Place the crock in a cool dark place. I check it after 3 or 4 days, and skim off any foam that has formed, washing the rock, then replacing it.
  • I taste it after 5 days, sometimes 7 if I forget. Putting a sticky-note on my kitchen calendar helps me remember when I started it.
  • That's it! Once the kraut is ready, remove it to a container and store it in the refrigerator.


Per serving:
  • 31 calories
  • 0 g fat
  • 0 g saturated fat
  • 0 g monounsaturated fat
  • 0 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 0 g cholesterol
  • 474 mg sodium
  • 258 mg potassium
  • 7 g carbohydrate
  • 3 g fiber
  • 3 g sugars
  • 1 g protein
  • 1 Weight Watchers Points Plus
Technically it can be stored in an airtight container without refrigeration, but I like to eat it cold anyway. The definitive book on all kinds of fermented foods is Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz.
Notes: Try a variety of vegetables and combinations. You can also add flavorful seeds like caraway to a batch. If you use a rock, scrub it several times, then boil it for 15 minutes completely immersed in water.