Healthy Living, Lacto-Fermentation & Whey, Recipes

What is Lacto-Fermentation & How to Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

February 18, 2013

I have a new love for sauerkraut. I used to dislike the vinegar-y taste of the kraut from the can; but when I took my first bite of real, lacto-fermented sauerkraut – who knew it would be love at first bite?

Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

In fact, I love it so much now that I take forkfuls from the jar as a snack! Making sauerkraut is just another delicious item to add to your fermenting repertoire.  Remember when I made pickle slices and told you a little bit about all the good stuff that goes along with lacto-fermentation? I also made Ginger Carrots which are really delicious as a condiment with venison and chicken. It wasn’t my favorite at first, but it truly has grown on me.

I thought I would share a little bit more about lacto-fermentation today before making some sauerkraut, so take a gander!

What is Lacto-Fermentation  & What’s so Great About It?

Lacto-fermentation has been used by traditional people to preserve their food long before we had ways to chill our food, use artificial preservatives, or can it with high heat. There was a time when just a little liquid whey or salt was added to the food to start producing lactobacillus (probiotics) bacteria cultures. These cultures help preserve the food via lactic acid which adds lots more vitamin and nutrient content to the food, as well as wonderful probiotics that will allow your good gut bacteria to flourish!

That’s all lacto-fermentation simply needs: salt, water, and jars plus an anaerobic environment (i.e. “absent of air”) which allows the good bacteria to flourish. We all know there is good bacteria and bad bacteria. This fermentation method is amazing just by the fact that it destroys the bad bacteria and lets the good bacteria flourish with a few simple ingredients.

This is where our good friends Lactobacillus, other lactic bacteria (i.e. probiotics), and yeasts come in. This is what allows the good bacteria to flourish that will make our gut flora super healthy! But that’s not all lacto-fermented foods can do; they have been known to have anti-inflammatory attributes, provide aid in ridding the body of yeast infections, and can help prevent certain kinds of cancer.

What about Mold?

There may be an occasion you will find a little bit of white mold on top of your ferments. Most of the time this is nothing to worry about! Sally Fallon (co-author of Nourishing Traditions) says that if you open the jar, you will be able to tell your ferment is no good immediately and the smell itself will be enough for you to throw it away.  But, if you want to know more about mold and lacto-fermentation, I covered the topic with some great links to articles in my post on fermented pickles. They are raw, cultured, and oh so good for you!

What Salt to Use?

I made the mistake of not using real sea salt once in my sauerkraut. And boy was it nasty! It tasted like cabbage in a salt-lick. I find the best quality of fermented foods I get is when I use really good real sea salt. I really like grey sea salt or pink Himalayan salt – they always will produce a great lacto-fermented condiment that I can count on to taste good and be packed full of good minerals.

Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

The Fundamentals
adapted from Nourishing Traditions

1 organic cabbage, shredded (like for coleslaw)
1 tablespoon good sea salt
1/4 cup liquid whey

1. Place the shredded cabbage in a large glass bowl with salt and whey. Mash with a pestle (from a mortar and pestle) or wood pounder until the cabbage starts to release the juices (about five to fifteen minutes).

Cabbage for Sauerkraut

2. Place in a one quart mason jar and leave about one inch of head space at the top of the jar. Tightly cover with lids. Let ferment on your kitchen counter for a minimum of three days. Try to “burp” (let a little air out) the jars each day. Once it is fermented, store in the fridge.

Making Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

3. It’s as easy as that!

Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

Great items for fermenting:

1. “Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods” by Sandor Katz

2. 12 – One Quart Mason Jars

3. 1 lb. Bag of Celtic Grey Sea Salt



1. – Lacto-Fermentation
2. – What is Lacto-Fermentation?
3. WAPF: Lacto-Fermentation

This post is a part of Simple Lives Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Fight Back Friday, Thank Your Body Thursday.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only ever endorse products that are in alignment with The Antidote Life's ideals and that I believe would be of value to my readers. You may read my full disclosure statements here.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply shelly February 18, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Does all of the cabbage fit in the quart jar? does it need to be packed tight? I really want to try fermentation, just nervous making the first step! So glad I stumbled upon your website – it is refreshing!

    • Reply Katie February 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Surprisingly, all the cabbage fits in one jar! You can always split it between two smaller jars, though, if you would like or a bigger one as well depending on how large of a cabbage you get. It should also be packed tight with the “cabbage juice” covering the veggies on top. :) The flavor of this sauerkraut improves with the time in your fridge after fermentation as well – it is so delicious!

      Good luck with your fermenting and I am so happy you stopped by!
      Let me know if you have any other questions. 😀

      • Reply shelly March 20, 2013 at 10:34 am

        Made my ‘kraut and success! Thank you for the guidance. I am now on my way to making kimchi – my husbands favorite.

  • Reply GMN's February Link Love 2013 - Girl Meets NourishmentGirl Meets Nourishment February 28, 2013 at 6:41 am

    […] miss out on all the yummy recipes from this month: mini-pizzas, beef stew, lacto-fermented sauerkraut, meatballs, ghee, sourdough onion rings, and orange-lemon jello […]

  • Reply Wild Fermentation Starter Kit Giveaway WINNER! - Girl Meets NourishmentGirl Meets Nourishment March 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    […] they can dream of fermenting! They could always try my recipes for pickles, ginger carrots, and sauerkraut. If you are curious for more information about lacto-fermentation, check out my post about what […]

  • Reply Vanessa March 18, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I’m excited because I just put my first batch of sauerkraut into the jar! I know that you said to leave it on the counter for a minimum of 3 days, but how long do you typically leave it out? So excited to try it…thanks for the making it look easy…I’ve been wanting to try this for awhile now!

    • Reply Katie March 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      I love this sauerkraut, Vanessa! Depending on how warm it is in your home, the faster it will ferment. It’s pretty chilly where I am, so it takes about three days to even start to get bubbly. But in your home it make take just two. I hope you enjoy it – it’s really easy and really yummy!

      – Katie

  • Reply My Eczema Healing Journey (Update #2) - Girl Meets NourishmentGirl Meets Nourishment March 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    […] also increased the amount of probiotic-rich lacto-fermented foods I eat (i.e., sauerkraut, ginger carrots, pickles) to help rebuild good gut flora. By […]

  • Reply r.m.brock March 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I’ve discovered a white cabbage salad from Agrosik in Poland that I thoroughly enjoy. It’s so good! However, I’m uncertain as to whether it’s fermented (and haven’t heard back from the company, in regards to this). Is it possible to put a food like this through a potentially ‘second ferment’ (or first ferment, as the case may be) with the process above? It’s preservative-free and the ingredients are: white cabbage, carrot, onion, red pepper, cucumbers, vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and spices, in that order. On a side note, they describe the veggies as being grown in an “ecologically pure region of Poland”! Thanks — have enjoyed some of your recipes and how-tos!!

    • Reply Katie April 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Hello there! I have done a little research and haven’t been able to find any concrete information to pass along to you. I am passing along the contact page of Mr. Sandor Katz – he is the author of Wild Fermentation and I think he would be able to help you figure this out!

      I am sorry I couldn’t be of more help and I hope that you get the answer you are hoping for!

      Thank you for stopping by and hope to see you again,

      • Reply r.m.brock April 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm

        Wow — thanks for checking that out and pointing me in the right direction!! And for the initial inspiration! I’ve been home brewing kombucha for about a year…just acquired some kefir grains…and now I’m armed with the lacto-fermentation knowledge. Good stuff.


    • Reply Annie April 10, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      If vinegar is present, it will inhibit bacteria, of all kinds, including friendly bacteria. So, from my understanding lacto-fermentation is not possible if you add vinegar. (stick with just the salt or the salt and whey).

  • Reply Probiotic-Rich Blueberry Banana Kefir Smoothie with Avocado! (My Eczema Healing Journey Update # 3) | Girl Meets NourishmentGirl Meets Nourishment May 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    […] online, on blogs – you name it, I checked. I decided to go with nature’s probiotics: lacto-fermentation, kombucha, fermented dairy (think yogurt), and the newest addition in my house: milk kefir (which I […]

  • Reply Easy Lacto-Fermented Ketchup | Girl Meets NourishmentGirl Meets Nourishment May 14, 2013 at 8:40 am

    […] easiest way to avoid overly-processed ketchup is to make your own at home, and lacto-ferment it to give it a punch of gut-happy probiotics! I have perfected this recipe, so that it will taste […]

  • Reply Lauren June 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Do you know if there is a way to ferment your own cabbage if you are gluten intolerant or vegan?

    • Reply Katie June 8, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Hey there, Lauren!

      This recipe is already gluten-free so you wouldn’t have to worry about that – to make it vegan, just remove the whey from the recipe and use a little more salt. You should get the same result! :)

      Hope this helps,

  • Reply How to Make Lacto-Fermented Mayo | Girl Meets NourishmentGirl Meets Nourishment June 10, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    […] already shared why I am such a fan of lacto-fermentation, and this enzyme-rich homemade mayo will not disappoint! I’d even venture to say it’s […]

  • Reply 56 Awesome Fermented Food & Drink Recipes | Girl Meets NourishmentGirl Meets Nourishment August 28, 2013 at 7:50 am

    […] Mommy How To Make Easy Sauerkraut by Primally Inspired Homemade Sauerkraut by Nourished Kitchen Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut by Girl Meets […]

  • Reply 13 Weird Traditional Foods You Really Should Try | The Aliso Kitchen September 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    […] a recipe for homemade lacto-fermented sauerkraut from Girl Meets […]

  • Reply Pam Hartman September 23, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    My daughter is lactose intolerant. Does the fermentation process eliminate the lactose from the sauerkraut?

  • Reply Deborah Davis October 30, 2013 at 8:18 am

    I love to make my own sauerkraut too. It is such an essential source for probiotics in my diet.
    Thanks for sharing this detailed post.

  • Reply My Eczema Healing Journey (Update #2) - Girl Meets NourishmentGirl Meets Nourishment November 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    […] also increased the amount of probiotic-rich lacto-fermented foods I eat (i.e., sauerkraut, ginger carrots, pickles) to help rebuild good gut flora. By […]

  • Reply The How’s and Why’s of Fermentation (Plus a Fermented Recipes Round-Up) | Just Enjoy Food January 19, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    […] What is Lacto-Fermentation and How To Make Lactofermented Sauerkraut from Girl Meets Nourishment  […]

  • Reply Probiotic POWER (A Recipe Round-Up) | January 25, 2014 at 5:46 am

    […] by Hollywood HomesteadAnother Sauerkraut by Girl Meets NourishmentPurple Cabbage and Orange Kraut thanks to A Harmony HealingLemon, Kale […]

  • Reply Lacto-Fermented Salsa: An Easy Rustic Recipe | Food Renegade April 2, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    […] I mention you can whip this together quickly, ferment it (find out what that means here), and then store in the fridge or freezer for 3 to 4 months? Plus, you only need a few ingredients […]

  • Reply Cindy November 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I currently have my yogurt straining, but was wondering for the recipe approximately how many cups/pounds of cabbage. The cabbage I have varies alot in size, so I want to adjust liquid whey and salt accordingly, so my attempt at this is successful :) Any help on that would be greatly appreciated! :)

  • Reply Allison Dey Malacaria August 28, 2015 at 12:32 am

    It takes three weeks for the lactobacillus in the cabbage leaves to multiply. Other bacteria have come and gone by then, but if you want lacto-fermented cabbage, you have to wait at least 3 weeks before refrigerating which slows the fermentation to nearly next to nothing.

  • Reply Anna May 7, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Can you make this with red cabbage? We have some in the garden right now.

    • Reply Katie June 13, 2016 at 10:46 am

      You sure can! :)

  • Reply Tim Ponstingle October 3, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    Have you thought about adding any kind of spices or herbs to your sauerkraut?

  • Leave a Reply