Sauerkraut Page

Sauerkraut is cabbage cured in an acid solution. The goal is to keep the cabbage submerged without contact with air, in an acidic environment that has a pH less than 4.6. That is sufficient to kill most bacteria, and food cured in such a way will keep for months without refrigeration.

This can be achieved either by marinating and curing the cabbage in a vinegar solution (acetic acid), or by letting the cabbage undergo anaerobic fermentation in brine to produce lactic acid.

When working in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, we developed a hobby of making home-made sauerkraut, in order to find something else to do during long weekends in the Intels Camp compound, besides going hashing and sitting in Bush Bar.


Curing Cabbage

icon Pickled Sauerkraut (Sterilované Zelí)
This is a method of making sauerkraut by pickling it in a solution of water, salt and vinegar. It is quick and ready-to-eat sauerkraut can be made in a few days.


  • 4 lbs white cabbage, sliced and cores removed
  • 1 large pickle jar with a tight-fitting lid
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced
  • White vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Salt


  1. Prepare 2% brine (add 20 g salt to 1 liter of water) and bring to a boil. In batches, blanch sliced cabbage in boiling brine for 1 minute at a time.
  2. Sterilize the pickling jar and lid in boiling water.
  3. Mix the cabbage together with the mustard seed, peppercorns, allspice, onion and apple. Pack cabbage into the up to 3/4 volume.
  4. For 1 liter of marinade, mix together 0.7 liter water, 0.3 liter 8% vinegar, 70 g sugar and 26 g salt. Bring to a boil.
  5. Pour hot marinade into the jar, completely covering the cabbage. Cover lid air-tight.
  6. Place the jar in a cauldron of near boiling water (90 deg C, 190 deg F) for 45 minutes. Let cool down and store in a cool room.


icon Fermented Sauerkraut (Kysané Zelí)
This sauerkraut is made by natural fermentation at room temperature, by lactic acid bacteria of the sugars contained in the cabbage. The fermentation alone produces the required acidity, no vinegar is added. To fully cure the sauerkraut in this way takes 1-2 months.


  • 11 lbs lbs white cabbage, sliced and cores removed
  • 1 5-liter pickling jar
  • 100 g salt
  • 10 g caraway seeds
  • 75 g onion, chopped


  1. Clean cabbage, quarter, remove cores and weigh (need 11 lbs). Slice thin and place is a large mixing bowl or tub. Sprinkle with salt, caraway seeds and onion. Mix well.
  2. Clean pickling jar thoroughly and sterlize inside using boiling water.
  3. Start filling the jar in small batches. Pack and press the cabbage tightly, to leave as little airspace as possible. Fill the jar to within 1-2 inches from the top.
  4. Press the top of cabbage down with a sterilized wooden plank. Cover jar with a clean sheet of gauze and place in a cool room (~20 deg C, 70 deg F, or less).
  5. Within a day, the jar should be filled with liquid released from the cabbage. If the cabbage is not fully covered with liquid, cover with 2% brine. (Add 20 g salt to 1 liter of water, bring to a boil and let cool down.) Ensure that the sabbage is fully submerged. Place the jar in a cold room (12-15 deg C, 54-60 deg F).
  6. Check kraut every few days to make sure it is covered with liquid, to prevent it from coming into contact with air. Remove any impurities from the top of the liquid with a sterile spoon. In about 6 weeks, the sauerkraut will be fully cured and it's all done.


Cooking Sauerkraut

icon Smothered Sauerkraut Czech Pub Style (Dušené Zelí)

  • 1 lb cured sauerkraut, fermeted or sterilized
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cummin
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp white flour
  • Sugar, salt, vinegar, to taste


  1. If using fermeted sauerkraut, wash it briefly in a sieve under running water.
  2. Sauté chopped onion in vegetable oil until soft. Add sauerkraut. If using sterilized sauerkraut, use most of the marinading liquid, minus the seeds, onion and apple slices. Reserve ~1/2 cup of the liquid.
  3. Add cummin and caraway seeds and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Dissolve flour in the remaining liquid. Add to the sauerkraut and allow it to thicken.
  5. Taste and add salt, sugar and vinegar as needed.
  6. Serve with roasted pork, grillled sausages etc.


icon Smothered Sauerkraut Bavarian Style (Bayrisches Kraut)
  • 2.2 lb cured sauerkraut, fermeted or sterilized
  • 1/4 lb thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp caraway seeds
  • Salt


  1. Clean sauerkraut and cut into pieces.
  2. Fry bacon pieces until light brown and crispy. Add sugar and allow to caramelize. Add sauerkraut, mix and heat up. Add broth, vinegar and caraway seeds. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook for 35 minutes.
  3. Remover lid and continue to cook on medium heat for another 5-10 minutes, until the sauerkraut is soft and the liquid has evaporated. Season lightly with salt.

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Last updated: November 21, 2009

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