My daughter gave me a fermentation crock for my birthday, so I could make some sauerkraut. I’ve tried several times with mixed results. No … unsatisfactory results. WIth the crock, however, the results are excellent, albeit on the second try.

The crock came with simple instructions:

1. Clean and sterilize the crock
2. Place food in crock, pour in brine & cover with ceramic weight
3. Affix ring, fill in water barrier and cover with lid
4. Leave to ferment per recipe

However, these instructions failed to answer four important questions: ingredients; amount of salt; process; time to ferment.

Fermentation Crock
Fermentation Crock
Jars of sauerkraut with lids that allow fermentation gasses to escape.
Jars of sauerkraut with lids that allow fermentation gasses to escape.


There are many recipes for sauerkraut. As I reviewed the recipes, I decided to consolidate a list of ingredients that made sense to me:

  • 4 kg Cabbage
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples
  • Himalayan Pink Salt (2% of weight of cabbage)
  • 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of juniper berries
  • Optionally: 1 tsp celery seeds; 1 diced onion; 1 tsp mustard seeds (all of which I added)


After consulting many sources, one suggested the most reliable approach is to measure the salt by weight in proportion to the amount of cabbage. The recommendation is between 1.5% and 2.5% of the weight of the cabbage. I chose 2.0%. The choice of salt is also important. The same site recommends Himalayan Pink Salt, which I found easily at my local grocery store. I think the important thing is to avoid iodized salts.


The first step is to thinly slice the cabbage, but keep a few of the outer leaves for later (see below). I used a food processor which was not particularly thin nor consistent, but was faster and easier.

The next step involves squeezing the cabbage to release juices. I recall my grandfather saying that when his parents made sauerkraut they would have the maids put on clean socks and stomp on the cabbage (in the barrels) … as they did when making wine, I presume. I chose a different approach.

While many recipes specifically recommend against using metal containers and utensils, the only container I had that was large enough was a metal pot. As I sliced the cabbage, I added it with all the ingredients into the pot. When all the cabbage was cut, I started mixing and smashing it with a potato masher. I pounded the cabbage mixture for about 5 minutes, and several times over a 4 hour period. I estimate the volume was reduced by about half through this pounding process. The time is required to have the salt interact with the cabbage so it releases its juices.

After those four hours, I moved the cabbage mixture into the crock, and pressed it down tightly. I pushed down any cabbage that had stuck to the sides of the container; essentially, I tried to make the top of the contents as flat as possible so no cabbage would be exposed above the brine. I then placed the saved cabbage leaves over the top of the cabbage, and tucked them down the side between the cabbage and the side of the crock. These leaves act as sort of a seal to keep small pieces of cabbage from floating upward. I then placed a weight over the cabbage leaves and then poured in enough water to cover the cabbage leaves by about 2 cms. At this point there should have been about another 2-3 cms space between the top of the water (brine) and the top edge of the crock ( I mistakenly over filled the crock which meant the brine overflowed during the fermentation process).


The final question is how long to ferment. There is no single answer. I let mine run 10 days and I am very happy with the results. The kraut is crunchy, the right colour and not too salty or bitter. It is in fact a bit sweet.

The recipes I read suggested anywhere from 1 week to 6-8 weeks. The variability is tied to individual taste and the room temperature (the cooler the room the longer the period). The problem with taste is it requires one to open the crock, and thus break the seal. After 10 days, the colour looked right, the crock had stopped overflowing brine, and I was hungry.

I can attest to the end result as being much better than expected. The result was about 4-1/2 litres of sauerkraut.




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