How to make sauerkraut

Sauerkraut has, at its minimum, two ingredients: cabbage and salt. It takes from 4-7 days to ferment before it’s ready to eat, and preparation time is about half an hour.

Ingredients for sauerkraut

  • 1 green (and 1 purple if you want) cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons of sea salt (not iodised table salt, the iodine interferes with the bacteria)
  • A knife and chopping board
  • 1 large cabbage leaf
  • Two glass or ceramic bowls that fit inside one another (sterilised in boiling water or a dishwasher) OR a jar

 Instructions for making sauerkraut

  1. Slice the cabbage thinly, about 2-3mm. You can use a food processor, a mandoline or another slicing device. You want the bits to be as even as possible. A sharp knife is just fine.
  2. In the bowl, throw in your cabbage and salt. Massage the salty cabbage with your hands to get the water out of the cabbage. (The salt sucks the water out of the cabbage creating what’s called ‘brine’.) Once you have gotten as much water out of the cabbage as you can (probably ten minutes of massaging), stop, and push the cabbage down to the bottom of the bowl, so the brine covers it, just. Push!
  3. Now cover your cabbage with a large cabbage leaf, and press down to seal it off.
  4. Weigh the cabbage leaf down with another bowl, or something large and heavy that seals it all off like a rock or watermelon, while keeping the shredded cabbage submerged. A ziplock plastic bag full of salted water also works.
  5. Check regularly over the next 24 hours to make sure the shredded cabbage stays submerged, otherwise your cabbage will go mouldy instead of fermented. If, after 24 hours, there isn’t enough water covering your mix, put a teaspoon of sea salt and a cup of water into it to just cover the cabbage.
  6. The sauerkraut will take from three days onwards to ferment and get tangy. Check it every day, and once it’s tangy and delicious, drain, and eat.
  7. It is normal that a greyish mould will appear, but remove as much as you can before eating it. If you seal it properly, mould shouldn’t be able to grow: good bacteria can grow without oxygen, but mould cannot.
  8. Jar it, and put it in the fridge, where it will keep for months properly sealed.
  9. Use a little of this batch in a new batch to help it off.

How to eat sauerkraut

The correct answer is just about everywhere; sandwiches, as a side dish with almost any kind of food, with meats, or straight out of the jar. If you are trying to repopulate your gut and vagina with good bacteria, you need to be having a serving of this at least once a day, but ideally, two or three.

A serving is one to two tablespoons, but really, this ain’t science: do whatever you like, just get it in you. If you make a mistake the first time, try again.

It’s super simple, but fermenting is more art than anything, so do your research, and get the best tips. Dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan.

Putting sauerkraut up your vagina to treat a vaginal condition – yes or no? (No!)

So far nobody has done any experiments putting sauerkraut inside the vagina, so let’s say don’t do it.

What to expect if you eat a lot of sauerkraut

Gas! Cabbage is known for its fart-producing activity, but so are good germs, but that is only until your body and germs adjust, and then it should be smooth sailing.

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)