Sauerkraut Wild or Lactic fermented CABBAGE

General Information

For sauerkraut, shredded cabbage or other suitable vegetables are placed in a container and salt is added generally at ~2% vegetable weight. Low-salt recipes frequently spoil. Mechanical pressure is applied to expel cabbage juice, which contains fermentable sugars and other nutrients suitable for microbial activity. Additional water is not needed. The sauerkraut will ferment to a tangy, crisp end product that should be refrigerated to slow the fermentation process so it does not get too acidic.

A Hispanic version of sauerkraut is called "cortido" containing cabbage and spices like oregano and red pepper flakes.

HACCP Category: Food Code 3-502.11 Special Process - Sauerkraut is a wild culture or lactic acid bacterial culture fermented cabbage (vegetable) product.

Alcohol: Sauerkraut should not have any appreciable quantities of alcohol. Yeast and heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria are not desired.


  1. Chop cabbage and optional vegetables into pieces. Add approx. 2% weight/weight salt. Mix well to disperse salt.
  2. Mash, press, or pound the cabbage just enough to release juices.
  3. Add commercial lactic acid or pickle making fermentation culture.
  4. Place kraut into a crock or jar. Submerge vegetables under brine with a food grade weight. If brine doesn't cover the vegetables, there is a chance yeast or mold can develop (spoilage).
  5. Place an airlock over the top of the vessel to maintain an anaerobic (absence of air) environment to minimize spoilage.
  6. Allow to ferment at the temperature recommended for the commercial culture. If not sure, choose ambient (approx 70F).
  7. Check the pH. A pH ≤ 4.6 inhibits Clostridium botulinum and a pH ≤ 4.2 inhibits all foodborne illness bacteria. Sauerkraut has a typical ending pH of ≤ 4.
  8. Refrigerate when the desired acidity end point has been achieved (anything pH 4.2). Serve fresh within a few days.


Raw vegetables, especially chopped, are considered a Temperature Control for Safety Food (TCS food). The pH is neutral, it has nutrients, and does not have antimicrobials. This means that in general, all of the possible foodborne illness bacteria can grow in this food/beverage.

  • Vegetative bacteria (e.g. E. coli O157, Listeria moncytogenes, Salmonella, and similar). Both E. coli and Salmonella are associated with outbreaks in raw vegetables.
  • Vegetative bacteria that produce toxins (Staphylococcus aureus)
  • Sporeforming bacteria that produce toxins (Clostridium botulinum, C. perfringens, and Bacillus cereus).


CCP1: Ferment RAPIDLY with an active culture to get the Sauerkraut pH ≤ 4.6 and then ≤ 4.2. At pH ≤ 4.6 C. botulinum cannot grow and at pH ≤ 4.2 no foodborne illness bacteria can grow.


Sauerkraut is typically fermented with a rapid homofermentative lactic acid bacterial culture. The goal is to produce clean lactic acid flavor without the byproducts from heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria. Serch the internet for an appropriate vegetable lactic acid fermentation starter culture.

Do not use dairy fermentation cultures, cheese whey or yogurt. These cultures often are strictly acclimated to fermenting dairy and cannot ferment vegetables efficiently.

Created By
Brian Nummer


Created with an image by MonikaP - "kohl white cabbage fresh"