Caring for your DIY Sauerkraut

You made your take-home jar of sauerkraut at the San Diego Fermentation Festival. Here are some tips to ensure it turns out great!

  1. Be sure to “burp” the jar within a day to release normal pressure build-up.
  2. If you bought a Small batch fermentation kit (like Masontops Pickle Pipes and Pickle Pebbles), follow instructions to apply the fermentation kit.
  3. If not using a kit, remove lid and ring, add a weight (a river rock, small jar filled with water, or plastic bag filled with water) to keep the veggies under the brine. It’s Fine Under the Brine!
  4. Cover the jar with a clean dish towel or tea towel and wrap a rubber band around it (to keep flies out).
  5. Let it ferment on the counter at least 7 days (or up to 8 weeks). Taste it; when you like the taste and texture, remove the fermentation weight and lid (if using), add regular mason jar lid, and store in the refrigerator.
  6. White yeast/mold on the surface is normal. Don’t throw it out! Scoop, wipe, or scrape the mold from the surface, then stir the contents.
  7. The sauerkraut will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months!

Here’s the recipe we used. Feel free to browse our other recipes too! Curtido and Sauerkraut and more!

Ginger Sauerkraut

Prep Time 20 minutes
Fermentation Time 14 days
Course Fermented vegetable
Cuisine European, German
Makes 3 quarts/liters


  • 2.25 kg (5 to 6 lbs.) red or green cabbage about 2 medium-sized heads
  • 200 g (½ lb.) tart apple OR fennel bulb
  • 30 g (1 oz. or 3 inches) fresh ginger root
  • 45 g (3 Tbsp.) fine sea salt
  • 3 g (1 tsp.) dried caraway seeds
  • 3 g (1 tsp.) dried juniper berries


Prepare Vegetables

  • Clean vegetables to wash dirt off. Remove any dark green tough outer leaves from cabbage and compost or use for another purpose.
  • Slice cabbage head in half lengthwise, so that the core keeps each half together. Shred each half into ¼ to 1/2 inch (1/2 to 1 cm) ribbons using v-slicer, mandoline, or chef’s knife.
  • Sprinkle salt evenly over cabbage and throughout bowl.
  • Squeeze the mixture with clean hands or a kraut pounder to break cell walls and encourage water to come out of vegetables.
  • If you use fennel, slice the lower white part thinly using a chef’s knife or mandoline. Add the fennel to the bowl. Pluck the fronds free, chop and add them, too. Discard the fibrous green stems and tough root.
  • If you use an apple, remove the core from the apple and then thinly slice the apple using a chef’s knife or mandoline. Add it to the bowl.
  • Wash ginger to remove dirt, and peel if desired. Slice thin or grate and add to mixing bowl.
  • Add spices to bowl. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.
  • Add mixture to glass jar(s) or other fermentation vessel(s). Make sure to add every last drop of brine that formed in bowl into the container(s).
  • Pack down contents so that the top surface is even and flat.


  • Place weight(s) on top of contents (like a sterilized rock, a ziplock bag filled with water, or a jar or glass bottle filled with water). Leave at least one inch (2.5 cm) of head space from the contents and the top of the container with the weights applied.
  • There should be enough brine to just cover the contents when weighed down. It is normal for more brine to form in the first day or so after putting up.
  • Cover container with a dish towel or tea towel to keep out flies and dust. Secure with a rubber band, twist ties or elastic strap. Or if using an airlock lid, add it to the top of the container.
  • Label your container with the contents and date started. (I use blue painter’s tape and a permanent marker, and I always stick the label on the side of the container, rather than the lid. (Those lids have a notorious habit of switching jars when you’re not looking, usually in the middle of the night.)
  • Stash it in a cool place, out of direct sunlight.
  • Sauerkraut can ferment in as little as 5 days. Typically, I ferment sauerkraut two weeks in warm weather, or four weeks in cooler weather. Fermentation speed varies with the seasons and the climate.

Cleaning & Storage

  • Yeast and/or mold may form on the surface during fermentation. This is normal, especially when the top surface is exposed to air. Remove any weight and lids. Wipe, scrape, or scoop off surface yeasts or mold from the top and sides of the jar with a spoon, or clean paper towel, getting as much as you can. Don’t worry if you don’t get it all. Then stir the contents, turning the exposed top surface under the brine. Any residual mold or yeast will be killed in the acidic environment of the brine.
  • When taste and texture are to your liking, transfer sauerkraut to jars (cleaning surface if necessary), secure jars with standard lids (not the airlock lids if you used them), and move to the refrigerator. Sauerkraut will last in the refrigerator for several months.


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