Easy Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

Make tangy, lacto-fermented, probiotic-rich red cabbage sauerkraut with my easy recipe. The process of making this fermented red cabbage condiment is the same as with any other cabbage, but red cabbage has one primary difference — it often takes longer to reach peak fermentation and transform into sauerkraut.

A large jar full of homemade red cabbage sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut-making is thousands of years old and red cabbage sauerkraut is one variation of this popular, probiotic-rich, fermented food. The word sauerkraut just means “sour cabbage” in German where it really gained popularity and has been made since the 1600s.

Red cabbage sauerkraut is less popular than the green or white varieties but it is still delicious. The primary difference will be that red cabbage seems to take longer to ferment and turn into sauerkraut compared to green cabbage.

Red cabbage also has a slightly more assertive, more peppery flavor.

There are also nutritional differences between red and green cabbage.

Red cabbage has 10 times more vitamin A than green cabbage. Both types of cabbage contain vitamin A in the form of the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Source

See my post on Traditional European Sauerkraut for a more in-depth guide and equipment recommendations.

There are many ways to eat your red cabbage sauerkraut beyond just having it raw alongside other foods. Sauerkraut can be used in many recipes like my recipe for German sauerkraut soup or in Segedinsky Gulas, a pork and sauerkraut stew.

Just keep in mind that swapping out white/green sauerkraut with red can color the other ingredients a pink shade.

If you have any leftover shredded raw cabbage, use it to make German rotkohl (braised red cabbage side dish) or red cabbage soup.

Ingredients, Notes, & Substitutions

Two ingredients are needed to make sauerkraut; the rest is optional.

Shredded fresh red cabbage.
  • Red Cabbage | You want to slice your cabbage as thinly as possible. Use a sharp chef’s knife, a wooden cabbage shredder, or a food processor.
  • Salt | You can use any salt to make sauerkraut, except for iodized salt. Coarse or fine salt works, and so does canning salt; please note in the instructions below that if you do not want to weigh your cabbage and salt and insist on using teaspoons and tablespoons, there are some significant discrepancies between salt brands and types. Salt is the single most crucial aspect of making a successful and safe ferment like sauerkraut.
  • Water | If water is required, it should be filtered or chlorine-free. If using tap water, let it sit out for 24 hours for any chlorine to dissipate, or boil it for 10 minutes before allowing it to completely cool.
  • Optional Spices | Optional spices include caraway seeds, juniper berries, and whole black peppercorns.
  • Optional Herbs | Fresh herbs like dill, cilantro, lovage, bay leaf.
  • Optional Fresh Ingredients | Sliced fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, shredded carrot, shredded beets, hot peppers, and thinly sliced apple are all examples of what can be added to sauerkraut.

Equipment

  • Wide-mouth mason jars or a fermentation crock with lids. It must be nonreactive; you cannot use steel to make ferments, as the food will have an unpleasant metallic flavor. Glass or glazed clay is best. Oak casks also work beautifully and impart a unique flavor while increasing crunch.
  • A wooden mallet or spoon to pound the cabbage into submission.
  • A sharp chef’s knife or specialty cabbage slicer.
  • Fermentation weights, thick Ziplock bags filled with water or brine, or a clean stone or other weight to hold the cabbage below the brine.

Instructions

Red cabbage sauerkraut in mason jar.
  1. Remove the outer leaves of your cabbage but do not wash it. Slice your head of cabbage in half, and cut out the white core. Some people opt to include the core, I toss it to my chickens or compost it.
  2. Thinly slice the cabbage and place it in a bowl to weigh it. Make sure your scale is zeroed after placing the empty bowl on it.
  3. If you’re not weighing the cabbage, you will be estimating that your red cabbage head weighs about 2-2.5 lbs.
  4. Measure out the required amount of salt. (More on salt calculations below).
  5. Mix the salt into the red cabbage and cover the bowl. Leave this bowl alone for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours or longer. The salt will now begin the hard work of drawing out the naturally present water in the cabbage and creating a brine for you.
  6. After the time has passed, uncover your bowl and begin to massage the cabbage with your hands. Do not be gentle.
  7. Start scooping up the cabbage and packing it very firmly into the fermentation crock or mason jar(s) you are using. As you pack the cabbage, pound it down with a mallet made for this purpose or a simple wooden spoon. Pound it good.
  8. Leave room at the top of the jar (about 1 – 2 inches) for the brine.
  9. Assess the cabbage: is it releasing a lot of liquid? If not, leave it alone for 12-24 hours come back and do some more pounding.
  10. If that doesn’t work and the cabbage remains rather dry, make a water-salt brine with 1 teaspoon of fine salt per 1 cup of water and pour it into the jar until the liquid covers the cabbage and it is completely submerged by about 1/2 an inch or more.
  11. However, if the salting, massaging, and pounding have subsequently released a lot of liquid you won’t have to create any additional brine.
  12. Finally, add a weight to the top to keep the cabbage submerged. Oxygen is the enemy of your ferments and will cause mold to grow.
  13. Place a lid on your sauerkraut. If you are using a regular canning lid, you will will need to manually “burp” the sauerkraut daily (to release the built-up gases) by opening the lid slightly to allow the air to escape. If you’re using a fermentation lid, this will be done for you.
  14. Now, you wait for the fermentation magic to take place! Sauerkraut will ferment in anywhere from 3 weeks to 8 weeks. As mentioned, red cabbage can take longer to ferment so be patient.

Salt Amount (In US Teaspoons/Tablespoons):

The standard formula is that for every 5 pounds of shredded cabbage, you add in 3 tablespoons of fine salt.

(Or 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of fine salt per 1 pound of cabbage.)

If using coarse salt, double the amount.

Most heads of purple cabbage you buy will weigh about 2 lbs.

Salt Amount (In Grams):

Your best bet is to weigh the cabbage and the salt to avoid confusion or ruined ingredients. This also prevents an overly-salty unpleasant product.

The most widely used ratio of 2.00%–2.25% weight of salt to weight of cabbage gives the best results.

I prefer to use 2% in my sauerkraut.

Here is how you do that calculation correctly.

Weigh your cabbage after shredding and note the total amount in grams and then multiply that by .020 and you will get the exact quantity of salt you need.

1340 x 0.020 = 22.6 grams of salt, which can be rounded up to 23 grams or kept at 22 grams.

Easy!

Storage

Once your sauerkraut is fermented to your desired level of sourness after 3-8 weeks, it is easy to place it in the refrigerator or your cold room or cellar, where the temperatures will halt fermentation. Enjoy your sauerkraut for many, many months raw and in recipes.

If using a large fermentation crock, you can transfer the contents to smaller jars to make it easier.

Three large jars full of homemade fermented green, red, and green with carrot cabbage sauerkraut.

Recipes Using Sauerkraut

More Red Cabbage Recipes

MSN Readers view the original post here with a printable recipe card.

Red cabbage sauerkraut in mason jar.

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

Make this tangy, probiotic-rich, fermented red cabbage sauerkraut easily.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Fermentation Time: 10 days
Course: Fermented Foods
Cuisine: Eastern Europe
Servings: 8
Calories: 33kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Equipment

  • Mason Jars or Fermentation Crocks. You need a lid or other type of cover to prevent dust, dirt, and insects from entering.
  • Chef's knife or cabbage slicer
  • Fermentation weights Either specialty fermentation weights, crock weights, or a ziplock bag full of water or brine.
  • Wooden mallet or spoon.
  • Digital scale Highly recommended that you weigh your ingredients but I will give instructions in cups and spoons too.

Ingredients

  • 1 head Red Cabbage 2 lbs
  • 2 tablespoons Fine Sea Salt or 18 grams if weighing

Instructions

  • Clean the cabbage: Remove the outer leaves of your head of cabbage and cut it in half, remove the core if doing so. Do not wash the cabbage but check for dirt or debris.
  • Shred the cabbage: Using a sharp knife or cabbage slicer, slice the cabbage very thin and fine into ribbons as thin as possible.
  • Add the salt: toss the shredded cabbage with salt until coated. Cover the bowl and leave it alone for about an hour.
  • Massage cabbage: uncover bowl and begin to firmly massage the cabbage.
  • Pack the cabbage: start packing the cabbage firmly into the crock or mason jars you will be using for fermentation. Use a wooden spoon or mallet to really pack the cabbage in and pound it as you go to release more brine.
  • If the cabbage is dry, leave it alone for 12-24 hours and check back in on it. If it still dry create a brine by dissolving 1 teaspoon of salt into 1 cup of water that is not chlorinated. Pour that over the top of your cabbage until it is covered by 1/2 of an inch to 1 inch of liquid.
  • Weigh down cabbage: weigh the cabbage down so that it is not above the water in any amount.
  • Cover and burp: cover cabbage and store it somewhere cool and dark. If using regular lids, burp it daily by unscreqing the lid and covering it back up again. If using specialty fermentation lids, skip this step.
  • Wait: check your cabbage after 7-10 days and taste it. Sauerkraut will ferment in anywhere from 3 weeks to 8 weeks and red cabbage may require additional time.
  • Oce fermentation is done and you're happy with the flavor, you can store your red cabbage sauerkraut in the refrigerator or a cold room.

Notes

  • Optional Spices | Optional spices include caraway seeds, juniper berries, and whole black peppercorns.
  • Optional Herbs | Fresh herbs like dill, cilantro, lovage, bay leaf.
  • Optional Fresh Ingredients | Sliced fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, shredded carrot, shredded beets, hot peppers, and thinly sliced apple are all examples of what can be added to sauerkraut.
Storage
Once your sauerkraut is fermented to your desired level of sourness after 3-8 weeks, it is easy to place it in the refrigerator or your cold room or cellar, where the temperatures will halt fermentation. Enjoy your sauerkraut for many, many months raw and in recipes.
If using a large fermentation crock, you can transfer the contents to smaller jars to make it easier.

Nutrition

Calories: 33kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 1772mg | Potassium: 255mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1170IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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