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Probiotic Rich Homemade Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!

January 27, 2017

Homemade sauerkraut is the simplest way to populate your gut with a variety of nourishing probiotics for robust gut health and immune systems!

Probiotic Rich Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

The status of your gut determines just about everything…

At this point most people know that just about everything in the body relies on the status of your gut health. And that the status of your gut health is tied to the type of flora (bacteria) dominating the territory.

Probiotic Rich Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!If the good bacteria reigns “king,” digestion is sound, the immune system works more effectively, and the brain is clear.

When the bad bacteria is more prevalent, digestion is disrupted in a myriad of different ways (YES we should be pooping daily – if you are not you are constipated. NO your poop shouldn’t be runny, it shouldn’t hurt to poop, and indigestion, heartburn, and tummy aches are not normal!), the immune system is completely off (ie getting sick often, autoimmune disease, cancer, etc), and the brain is a foggy mess (the gut-brain connection is tied to many brain/neurological disorders from depression and Alzheimer’s to ADHD, autism, and everything in between.)

Probiotic Rich Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!Infiltrate and populate!

Traditionally fermented foods provide easy to absorb probiotics to our guts to use for battle every day. Whether you are generally healthy or have a few health issues, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut can populate your gut with the bacteria it needs to sustain a robust immune system, healthy digestive system, and sound mind.

Probiotic Rich Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!The simplest prep – let nature do the work!

Sauerkraut prep is so simple, and yet what actually happens as the fermentation happens takes place is so interesting and complex. Just a few teaspoons of sea salt sprinkled over shredded cabbage lends the the cabbage its own brine to ferment. Over the course of a few days to a week, the sauerkraut increases in beneficial digestive enzymes, vitamins C and B, as well as a variety of strains of beneficial bacterial for the gut to flourish. It’s as simple (and as complex!) as that!

Probiotic Rich Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!How to add sauerkraut to your meal plan

My favorite way to eat sauerkraut is as a brine-y, pickled bite to a sandwich wrap, burger, or a salad. Think of anything you like to add a salty, brined bite to! If you are eating sauerkraut in a medicinal way, such as if you are on the GAPS protocol, sometimes it’s just best to eat a tablespoon or so before you eat your meal to get the digestive enzymes in your gut to help you digest your meal – and to get it over with if you don’t particularly care for the taste. I have to admit, not growing up on sauerkraut, it took me some time to get used to. I ate it because I knew I needed it, and over time I have grown to love it!

Probiotic Rich Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!Ok, but what about the kids?!

Let’s start with the little guys first! If you have little ones at home, say between the ages of 6 months to 1 year old, jump on it! You are at a really great window of time to introduce new flavors and textures where baby is willing and open – and hasn’t really learned or tested the word *no* yet 😉 I served my babies teaspoons of the brine from fermented vegetables not only to get the health benefits from it, but to get them used to the sour bite! I was always really surprised at how my babies took to ferments after the initial pucker! The cabbage softens during fermentation, so small pieces of the sauerkraut makes great finger food material for the little ones chasing food around their tray or table. Out of my 3 {very} different personality kids, they all willingly eat sauerkraut, and I truly believe it is because their palates were trained for it young.

But don’t give up on those toddlers and big kids! My biggest advice would be not to make a big deal out of it. If you have toddlers, give them bites of YOUR food first. They love eating off your plate. Set the example and eat it yourself and maybe give them bites of it straight up, or get it into a yummy sandwich and let them have at it. If you have older, school aged kids and teens I would start with just serving it in a sandwich. If they question it or turn it down, discuss the why. Talk to the school aged kids about what the bacteria in their gut is for. Let the teens read this post! Let them see the why behind it. Talk about how much better they will feel if there are some gut issues or gut related issues (from ADD to anxiety, allergies to frequent colds and on and on!). Some kids might just prefer to get a spoonful in and over-with and then enjoy their meal. Go for it! This is such an inexpensive way to get probiotics in!

Probiotic Rich Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!How do I begin eating fermented vegetables if I have never tried them before?

Fermented vegetables are teeming with good bacteria, and, especially for those with sensitive tummies, food allergies, or digestive disorders, fermented vegetables make the entire eating process easier on the gut by acting as a digestive aide! Eating even a tablespoon or so of ferment with each meal will aide in digesting your food as well as provide stability to your immune system and brain health.

Start with 1 tablespoon or so per day to begin with to allow the friendly bacteria to make their home in your gut. Starting out with too much all at once can lead to tummy upset as the good bacteria takes over the bad. Increase to 1 tablespoon 3x per day as you feel comfortable. Once your body is used to the ferments, you can eat as much as you like and tolerate. My school aged girls eat around 2 or so tablespoons of sauerkraut at a time when they eat it.

Probiotic Rich Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!Fermenting tools

While you can definitely get your ferments going today with just glass jar and a plastic lid (metal lids will corrode over time so plastic is recommended), as you get going you may want to take a look at fermenting tools that make the process even easier and stress free.

Vegetable ferments do best in an anaerobic environment (that is, “no oxygen” using an air tight seal). Plastic lids work fine, though some air does get through, and as the gasses build up in the ferment you need to “release” them by opening the lid here and there. The air that gets through also makes it easier for stray airborne microbes and molds to get in which can make the whole jar go bad.

There are a couple of sealing options you can choose from, and I really have found these to give the best fermenting results. The one that I use is the first recommendation, the Pickle Pipe.

  • The Pickle Pipe :: I am convinced a busy, “every day” mom invented this fermenting tool! Talk about zero fuss, *easy to clean,* and affordable! The Pickle Pipe creates a seal with a simple (easy to wash!) silicone disk, and the metal ring your jar comes with. The “pipe” part of the silicone disk has a special opening that only pressures open when the gasses build up in the jar and need to be released. So basically…set it and forget it! You don’t have to check for pressure everyday at all. I also am in love with their Pickle Pebbles which weight down the ferment at the top so you don’t have to worry about molding or the tips of the veggies going bad from being out of the brine. Invaluable! I have never had a ferment go bad or mold using my Pickle Pipes and Pebbles.
  • Fido Jar :: Fido jars create an incredible anaerobic sealed environment and are super easy to clean and take care of. No crazy parts to clean, and they are beautiful lined up in the kitchen to ferment! You will need to “burp” these every day or so to let the gasses out but they work very well! They are pricier than mason jars (especially if you already have a lot of mason jars at home, and can just get some Pickle Pipes to top them off), but they will last forever and, again, they are beautiful!
  • Traditional Fermentation Crock :: I have to be honest…I love these! I really do! They are on my foodie dream list and when I can afford a really beautiful new fermenting crock I really, really want one for my kitchen! They are gorgeous, easy to clean and work fantastic. They come with a weight to keep the veggies down to prevent molding and they create a perfect anaerobic environment.
  • Air-Lock Lids :: These are a really great, inexpensive option – especially if you already have a lot of mason jars at home. I think the Pickle Pipes are easier to clean and use, but if you have some of these lying around don’t let them go to waste – they work great!

One last equipment note! Many people find these Pickle Packers useful for squeezing the cabbage for making the natural brine. I have use a wooden spoon for years but think these are great too! {My birthday is in the fall if anyone wants to send me a wishlist gift! 🙂 }. Please keep in mind not to use metal spoons as it messes with the fermenting process – only wooden utensils.

Probiotic Rich Sauerkraut {Fermented Cabbage} :: 2 Ingredients, Quick Prep, Real Food!

5.0 from 8 reviews
Fermented Carrots {that kids will actually eat!} & The Benefits of Fermented Vegetables
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ medium head of cabbage, sliced thin or shredded
  • 2-3 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, smashed (Optional. I love the flavor and sweetness the garlic gives to sauerkraut - it is the only way I like it!)
Instructions
  1. Put a big handful of the sliced cabbage into a clean pint jar, and sprinkle the sea salt over top. Using a wooden spoon or a vegetable pounder, press and stir the cabbage, squeezing the cabbage down. The salt will draw out the natural juices in the cabbage and it will create it's own brine with the sea salt. (It takes a few minutes for the juices to develop so be patient!)
  2. Keep adding cabbage into the jar, packing it down into the jar, letting the salt soften the cabbage until you reach the top of the jar (Leaving about 1 inch of head-space at the top). Allow the salt to draw out enough juices in the cabbage to be fully submerged in the brine.
  3. Put your fermenting weight on top of the cabbage/brine if you are using one, and wipe the rim of the jar clean.
  4. Close up your jar (Put on your Pickle Pipe, or close the lid of your Fido Jar, or lid and use your Air-Lock. A simple plastic lid can work for your first time until you get the hang of things and want to invest in something to make your fermenting process easier.).
  5. Set the jar at room temperature for 2-7 days depending on the taste you are going for. The longer it sits, the more flavor will develop. You can open and taste along the way until you are satisfied. I ferment mine for about 3 days, and that is the taste my kids enjoy best. Sometimes I make a jar just for me that I let ferment up to a week, but I enjoy that funkier sour taste! One of my older girls does now too! Keep in mind that if you live in a warmer climate, you may not need as much time to ferment.

Tips on recipe size

This recipe makes 1 pint of sauerkraut. It is a great amount to get started on. I typically double this recipe into 2 pint jars (you could double into a quart jar, but I like to use the 2 smaller jars so my kids can get it out of the fridge to help themselves).

A quick note for those with histamine sensitivities!

If you have a hard time tolerating fermented foods or have a histamine sensitivity/allergy, sauerkraut is not recommended. Don’t beat yourself up! I have been there (and healed from!) histamine sensitivity, and it is worth avoiding foods that bother you. I used this soil based probiotic while I was healing and tolerated it well. (I am not a doctor or an expert in this area, so if you have questions I can try to answer them, but the Healing Histamine website is my favorite resource for this topic!)

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41 Comments

  • Reply Emily @ Recipes to Nourish January 28, 2017 at 2:14 am

    Okay, I totally need to get that Pickle Pipe. You’ve inspired me because I have not had any successes with ferments so far – I always have problems with mold. This sounds like what I need! My family and youngest loves kraut and it gets so pricey buying it.

    • Reply Renee Kohley January 28, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Oh Emily! You will love it! As you know, I am very sensitive to molding as well, and had issues with ferments molding when I first got started. I have never had a problem with these – they ferment so fast and well so they aren’t sitting around as long letting unwanted air getting to them!

  • Reply Tracy January 28, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Love this post!! I’m about to order the pickle pipes (using your link, hopefully, that helps you). Can’t wait to try it. Thank you for sharing your wisdom 🙂

    • Reply Renee Kohley January 28, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Hi Tracy! That’s great! I’m so glad you learned something! And yes – thank you! It really does help me be able to keep the blog paid for and time to write! I appreciate your support!

  • Reply Tracy January 28, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Oh good! I am so glad to help in any small way. Next on my purchase list is your Nourished Beginnings baby food book. My peanut is only 2.5 months old. I am so happy to have a resource to help my son eat like your daughters. Truly impressive!

  • Reply Amy January 28, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    I’m SO happy I ordered pickle pipes about a year ago! They are a game changer! My husband made a pretty awesome air lock system for me too that works great, but the pickle pipes are amazing! My girls weren’t introduced to fermented foods until later, later for my oldest, and they took to them great and always ask for kraut or carrot sticks (the two things I always have on hand). And in the winter kombucha is a treat cause I don’t make it as much because it just takes so much time to ferment with our temps!

    • Reply Tracy January 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      SO good to hear this! I am looking forward to their arrival! and I hope my little ones will be asking for kraut too!

    • Reply Renee Kohley February 1, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Amy that is SO awesome!!! Good for you!

  • Reply Megan Stevens January 29, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Great to learn about the Pickle Pipe product! I hadn’t heard about it. I love your beautiful explanation and recipe. Will share! <3

  • Reply Stacey Crawford January 30, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    That seems so easy & I thought it would complicated to make my own! You’ve inspired me to make this. I use too not like sauerkraut when I was kid, but now I crave it, and have to be careful not to eat too much and get a tummy ache (you’re right about that & I learned that the hard way, lol).

  • Reply Georgina Young January 30, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE sauerkraut but I have never had it with garlic! Definitely trying it in my next batch! Love the photography in this post and also you’ve written such a great guide for 1st time fermenters!

  • Reply Mark Whelan January 30, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    I totally need to get round to making my own. I loved reading this – it’s a really succinct look at gut health and how it contributes to overall health in so many ways. I have just bought a new jar but it’s so expensive to keep buying. Great post!

  • Reply Kari Peters January 31, 2017 at 11:33 am

    I have to try making my own sauerkraut soon, and thank you for such a great article and recipe breaking it down and making it easy!

  • Reply Tracy January 31, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Hi Renee
    I got my pickle pipes and I am making this fermented cabbage now and I just wanted to let you know that the title of the recipe says fermented carrots 🙂 Can’t wait to try this when it is done!

  • Reply Vanessa Woozley January 31, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    It’s all about the kraut, from one passionate fermenter to another! Great instructions and tips, my daughter had a histamine intolerance too.

  • Reply Real Food with Dana February 1, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Loooove sauerkraut so much! Though the only time I tried to make it myself, it didn’t turn out so well. I’ll definitely be following your tips! And great point about the histamines too 🙂

    • Reply Renee Kohley February 1, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      Great Dana! I hope it works out for you!

  • Reply Michele Spring February 1, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    I gave my kids teaspoons of sauerkraut juice every day when they were old enough to drink it and they devoured it with glee. I mean, I love sauerkraut but don’t really love drinking the juice straight, so yeah, starting them early is the way to go for sure. Thanks for the reminder though to make sauerkraut with the head of cabbage I have sitting in my fridge 🙂

    • Reply Renee Kohley February 2, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      Michele! I love that! It is amazing what you can get them used to liking at such little ages!

  • Reply Erin Carter February 2, 2017 at 8:55 am

    I really need to start making more fermented foods for myself. Thanks for the inspiration! You make it look so simple

  • Reply Cristina Curp February 2, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    YAS! Love homemade kraut! So easy and delish!

  • Reply Jessica DeMay February 3, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I love how detailed your instructions are and your great tips for products. I’ve made this once with a friend, but haven’t made it on my own. I know it’s easy, but it’s nice having a guide. Thank you! 🙂

  • Reply Becky Winkler (A Calculated Whisk) February 5, 2017 at 10:38 am

    So cool! Those pickle pipes sound awesome.

  • Reply Hannah Healy February 5, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    ohhh! how I love my fermented foods.

  • Reply Carrie Forrest February 5, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Ohhh this is so yummy! <3

  • Reply Amy February 5, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    This is so great Renee! You give such great details, and I am always looking to add more fermented foods. I have never tried making my own sauerkraut and will definitely give this a try!

  • Reply Katja February 5, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Great tutorial! I’ve never put garlic in my sauerkraut. I’m going to have to try that.

  • Reply ChihYu February 5, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Love these probiotic rich homemade vegetables! It reminds me of Korean kimchi. So refreshing and so delicious !

  • Reply Rhianon May 3, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Such a great post! I feel like we’re in the middle of a fermented food revival, and it’s so very cool! I find it endlessly fascinating all the research they done on beneficial bacteria over the last few years. I’m thankful I already love sauerkraut; I definitely need to try making it again one of these days.

  • Reply Billy July 12, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I love how many descriptive and helpful pictures there are to guide someone through the process of getting this done. I really needed a guide like this before I started fermenting for the first time! I’ll definitely follow yours the next time I go to attempt fermenting so nothing goes sour! Pun intended..

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