Sauerkraut, directly translated: “sour cabbage”, is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf-life and a distinctive sour flavour, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage. Coleslaw, an unfermented dish made from fresh cabbage, may also be made with an acidic taste, but is otherwise quite different.

Sauerkraut is often unpasteurised and sold in jars.

Sauerkraut is the main ingredient of the Alsatian meal Choucroute Garnie (French for dressed sauerkraut), sauerkraut with sausages and other salted meats and charcuterie, and often potatoes.

To make your own sauerkraut you will rely on the bacteria found on the cabbage leaves. The salt draws out the water and kills off the spoilage bacteria. You will need between a 0.6% and 2% salt concentration, which equals ¾ to 2 teaspoons of table salt per 500 g of prepared cabbage.
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 8-10 cups shredded cabbage, loosely packed (about a 1kg cabbage)
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoons pickling salt (un-iodised)
  • 1 cup filtered water mixed with 1 teaspoon salt
  1. In a clean, non-metallic bowl, mix cabbage, juniper berries, caraway, mustard seeds, and salt. Stir cabbage to release juices. Let rest 10 minutes then mix again. You may let this rest longer (1-2 hours) if needed.
  2. Sterilise jar and lid by boiling for several minutes in water and draining on a clean dishcloth.
  3. Pack into a sterilised 1 litre sized, wide-mouthed jar, pushing down with a wooden spoon. Add filtered, or non-chlorinated, salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water) water to rim of jar and cap loosely with a sterilised lid. Place jar on a tray to catch overflowing juices. Keep jar between 18°C and 22°C for 2-3 weeks.
  4. After bubbling stops, check container and top off with salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water, warm slightly to dissolve completely) water if level falls below rim. Skim any (harmless) white spots or film from the top, close jar tightly, wipe off outside of jar and store in the refrigerator until you use it up.

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