Fermented Beet and Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

by Kaitlynn Fenley
using my hads to show the tightly packed layers of a fresh raw red cabbage

Homemade Sauerkraut is definitely the easiest at-home fermentation project. Plus, it’s so easy and fun to make flavorful, nutrient-dense variations of sauerkraut, like this Fermented Beet and Red Cabbage Sauerkraut. With this recipe, you’ll learn how to ferment delicious sauerkraut in a mason jar.

This blog should have been titled: How to Magically Get Nothing on Your White Sweater While Mixing Red Cabbage and Beets.

I don’t cook with an apron… maybe I should. lol.

Homemade Sauerkraut is definitely the best type of fermented food to make if you’re new to fermenting vegetables at home. Sauerkraut is particularly easy for a first fermentation project since cabbage ferments extremely well. The water content along with the microbial species richness of cabbage makes it optimal for wild fermentation! 

With this recipe, you’ll learn how to make the most probiotic ginger beet sauerkraut in a mason jar. For more information on fermentation and gut health vocabulary visit our Gut Health 101 Blog & our How Do You Make Fermented Foods Blog.

Beet and Red Cabbage Sauerkraut Ingredients

I love ginger beet sauerkraut. It’s especially great for fall, aka cold and flu season. With just a few simple ingredients and a few weeks of fermentation, you can craft a nutrient-dense, probiotic, flavorful sauerkraut.

Using purple cabbage to make sauerkraut is the best. It’s a slightly sweeter cabbage and contains tons of beneficial nutrients. Purple cabbage has more vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavonoid antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and kaempferol than green cabbage.

Beets are another great source of nutrients. They’re packed with potassium, betaine, magnesium, and folate. And let’s not forget about ginger! Phenolic compounds in ginger are known to help relieve gastrointestinal irritations and aid in digestion. All of these nutritional benefits combined with the natural probiotics from wild fermentation make ginger beet sauerkraut a superfood.

I add a bit of water to all of my cabbage fermentation recipes. Water is still drawn out of the cabbage when salt is added. However, having water as a part of this recipe accounts for seasonal changes in produce hydration levels. So no matter where you are in the world, or what your cabbage is like, you should be able to keep everything submerged in the brine and have success with this recipe.

Mastering Fermented Foods

If you’re going to master fermentation you’ll need to use weight measurements for your fermentation ingredients. That means you need a kitchen scale. In order to select for the best probiotic bacteria (the ones that are actually beneficial) in your ferments, you must weigh salt to create a specific salt concentration. Weighing salt is the only way to create a salt concentration that will select only probiotic microbes to thrive. You can read more about why you must weigh your salt & how to calculate salt concentration here.

Using a gram scale to determine a 2.25% salt solution.

In this recipe, we are adding 2.5% salt (that means we are adding 2.5% of the cabbage + water weight in salt → i.e. 2.5% x 800 grams = 20 grams.

So we are adding 20 grams of salt to give us a 2.44% total salt concentration. 

Supplies You’ll Need to Ferment Beet and Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

homemade sauerkraut fermentation timeline

We tracked our kraut throughout the fermentation process. By checking the progress of microbial stages using microscopy, we have provided you with this handy timeline! If you follow our recipe and directions, your timeline of sauerkraut fermentation should approximately match ours!

24 – 48 hours: All contents in the jar should be submerged beneath the brine. At this time there are still Gram negative bacteria and opportunistic pathogens present. These microorganisms utilize oxygen, and they will use up all the oxygen in the liquid.

48 hours – 10 days: After 48 hours you should start to see lots of bubbles being produced. This is when the ferment enters stage two of vegetable fermentation. Leuconostoc bacteria begin to thrive and all Gram negative organisms die off.

10-14 days: The bubbles in the brine will decrease, as the ferment leaves stage two and enters stage three. The ferment will become cloudy, the color will change, and a pleasant sour smell will develop. Lactobacillus species begin to thrive in this time period.

14 – 21 days: Lactobacillus make up majority or all of the microbial population. Leuconostoc bacteria die-off. Lactobacillus spp. produce copious amounts of lactic acid and make the fermented cabbage smell even more pleasantly sour. This is the time in which the vegetable mixture becomes preserved.

What Temperature Should I Keep My Fermented Sauerkraut At?

Keep your fermenting cabbage at a temperature between 70-80 degrees F. Keep out of direct sunlight

How Long Should I Ferment My Homemade Sauerkraut?

After 3-4 weeks minimum, remove the fermentation weight and smell and taste test. Your fermented cabbage should smell pleasantly sour. It should taste tart, lightly salty and cabbagey.  

Do I Need to Refrigerate My Homemade Sauerkraut

After fermenting for 3-4 weeks, remove the weight and place a regular mason jar lid on the jar and refrigerate. Consume within 6 months for full probiotic benefits.

Homemade Sauerkraut Tips

During the first few days of fermentation: carbon dioxide and bubbles will be produced. Sometimes jars will become very full with liquid, and this liquid can seep out. 

  • Remove the lid and tamper everything back down using a gloved hand, tamper or spoon. Make sure everything, including the weight, is still submerged below the brine. Rinse off the lid if it is dirty.

Always Trust your sense of smell: Fermented cabbage should smell pleasantly sour and like strong cabbage.  Never eat anything that smells repulsive or yeasty. 

Never eat anything that had mold growing on it: By following directions you should not encounter this problem. 

Taste test at three weeks: If you prefer the sauerkraut to be more tart and sour, let it ferment for four weeks. 

Print

Fermented Beet and Red Cabbage Sauerkraut with Ginger

Homemade Sauerkraut is definitely the easiest at-home fermentation project. It’s so easy to make flavorful, nutrient-dense variations of sauerkraut, like this ginger beet sauerkraut. With this recipe, you’ll learn how to ferment delicious sauerkraut in a mason jar.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 Minutes
  • Yield: 1 Quart 1x
  • Category: Fermented Foods
  • Method: Fermentation
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 500 grams Red Cabbage
  • 100 grams Shredded Beets
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Grated Ginger
  • 20 grams Unrefined Sea Salt
  • 200 grams Filtered Water

Instructions

  1. Wash your fermentation equipment (jar, weight and lid)
  2. Remove the outer leaves of your cabbage and lightly rinse with cool water. Using a knife, chop the cabbage to your desired thickness.
  3. Place your kitchen scale on the counter. Turn it on and set it to weigh in grams.
  4. Place a mixing bowl on your kitchen scale and tare/zero the scale. Note: Taring/zeroing the scale with a container on it subtracts the weight of the container, allowing you to weigh only what is added to the container. After taring/zeroing the scale, the scale should read 0.0 with the container on it.
  5. Add chopped purple cabbage into the bowl on your scale until the scale reads 500 grams.
  6. Add the shredded beets to the bowl of shredded cabbage until the scale reads 600 grams total.
  7. Add in one Tablespoon of fresh grated ginger.
  8. Remove the bowl of cabbage, beets and ginger from the scale and set aside.
  9. Place a small, empty bowl on your scale and tare/zero the scale.
  10. Weigh out 20 grams of salt.
  11. Add the 20 grams of salt into the bowl with the cabbage mixture, and gently mix with your clean hands until the cabbage becomes wet. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
  12. Place your empty, clean mason jar on the scale, and tare/zero the scale. Make sure your scale is still set to grams and add 200 grams of filtered water to your mason jar. (note: 200 grams of water = 200 mL of water).
  13. Add the 200 grams of water into the bowl with the cabbage, beets, ginger and salt. Mix well for about 5 minutes. If you like crunchy kraut, mix gently. If you like softer kraut, mix more vigorously by squeezing the cabbage.
  14. Starting with the liquid, add the entire contents of the bowl into your mason jar, and pack everything down using a tamper, wooden spoon, or your hand.
  15. Place your glass fermentation weight in the jar, making sure to submerge the cabbage pieces and weight fully into the liquid. If you dont have quite enough liquid, place your glass fermentation weight in the jar and submerge as much a possible. Over the next 12 hours, the cabbage should release more liquid and you can press down your fermentation weight below the brine.
  16. Secure the standard mason jar lid to the mason jar.

Notes

See fermentation care instructions and timeline below

Keywords: fermented,beet,red cabbage,sauerkraut,fermentation

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30 comments

Stan Jones January 27, 2020 - 4:16 pm

Good morning.
Just discovered your site and am enjoying looking around. I have some red cabbage and beets to use up and I have a question regarding your recipe. All our batches of various krauts we’ve used 2-2.5% salt, based on the weight of the vegetables. We let the cabbage and veggies make their own brine and haven’t needed to add water. Your red cabbage recipe calls for approx 3.3% salt, based on ingredient weight. I’m wondering if we could simply use 3.3% salt and let the ingredients make their own brine. Thanks for your thoughts.
Stan

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley January 27, 2020 - 4:33 pm

This recipe is a 2.44% total salt concentration. Looks like you used a severely inaccurate calculation to arrive at 3.3%. The mathematics of calculating salt concentration is fully explained in the body of this blog post. Water is also an ingredient that has to be weighed to calculate total salt concentration. 20 grams of salt/ 820 grams of total ingredients = 2.44%

It is an option to allow the cabbage to make its own brine. However, if anyone who is using an old cabbage, an out of season cabbage, or a cabbage thats been in their fridge too long they will not have enough liquid to keep the contents submerged for the duration of the fermentation. Keeping vegetables submerged is of the most important in safe vegetable fermentation. Our recipe methods are designed for consistency amongst all of our blog readers, regardless of the state of their ingredients.

Reply
Marie August 27, 2020 - 7:47 pm

Hi! This looks really good. I was wondering if you use cooked or raw beets? Thanks!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 28, 2020 - 10:22 am

I used raw beets that had been frozen in this recipe.

Reply
Jamie February 18, 2021 - 3:49 pm

I just got a fermentation crock with a lid.ñ from a talented local potter. Can I use it for this recipe instead of a mason jar?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley February 18, 2021 - 3:53 pm

Oh, that’s wonderful! I hope to buy myself a beautiful, custom ceramic crock one day! Yes, you can use it. Just note the volume and scale up the recipe as necessary. You can double or triple the recipe using the buttons on the recipe card. This recipe at 1x is for a 32-ounce jar. Oh, and you should still use a fermentation weight and keep everything submerged in the brine.

Reply
Jamie February 18, 2021 - 4:05 pm

Thanks! Excited to try this recipe- is it ok if I don’t fill the crock as long as it stays submerged?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley February 18, 2021 - 4:16 pm

Yes, that should be fine. If your crock has a water-seal top, use that as well, in tandem with submerging. 🙂

Reply
Lou Daigle March 26, 2021 - 11:06 am

We love this! I made 2 quarts and I mixed the ingredients gently in hopes that it would still have some crunch to it. I fermented them for the full 4 weeks and they turned out great …. crunchy and so flavorful!
Kaitlynn, I don’t know how you managed to keep your white sweater so clean when you were making this. I wore a black tee shirt and I’m glad I did!
Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe.

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley March 29, 2021 - 12:47 pm

So happy to hear you tried another recipe and loved it, Lou! Jon says that I have surgeon’s hands, so I guess my steady hands helped keep my sweater stain-free haha!

Reply
Justin April 7, 2021 - 8:57 am

Fantastic recipe, made it yesterday for my birthday. Only 20 days left to taste test. I am having issues with my cucumbers, which I make into sour pickles. Its 90° in the Philippines so fermentation happens rapidly. Although I end up with very sour pickle spears they are not crispy, even though I add in bay leaves (as well as peppercorns/coriander/mustard seed) and very fresh cucs. 3.5% salinity. Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong? Thanks!!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley April 8, 2021 - 7:29 am

Hey there,

I responded to the question you left about pickles on our wild fermented dill pickle blog. Yes, a high temperature does speed up the fermentation timeline. Fermentation temperatures above 80-85° F can lead to vegetable softening. I also suggest a 3-4% total salt concentration (which is not the same thing as salinity).

Reply
Caroline Phelan August 11, 2021 - 12:22 pm

This recipe sounds great I tried a kraut with similar ingredients recently and have wanted to recreate it since! Just wondering can this be done without a fermentation weight? I don’t have one and am very new to fermenting but wondering if I keep the veg fully submerged and the lid of my jar airtight will that work? Thanks in advance!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 11, 2021 - 2:55 pm

It’s best to use a fermentation weight, but it is possible to still have good results without one. You must make sure everything is staying submerged for the duration of the fermentation process though. When it gets bubbly, you will have to check it very often to resubmerge everything with a clean utensil.

Reply
Steve Mitchener November 1, 2021 - 10:20 am

Hi, I followed your recipe exactly using 50% of all ingredients and added it to a 0.5 L (17 ounce) Kilner jar. With a weight added, the tightly packed food was submerged in the brine. The brine came up to the very top of the jar, meaning there was no air under the lid. Is this okay, or should I tip some away to allow for some air? Your blog indicated some bacteria use oxygen in the early stages of fermentation. Can this be extracted solely from the water? Thanks Steve. NB: I live in England and am very grateful you give metric measurements as I find the Imperial system quite baffling!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley November 1, 2021 - 11:17 am

Hello! yes, that sounds like the right amount of brine, and no need to tip some away. In the very beginning of fermentation, some microbes do use oxygen, but they’re using dissolved oxygen within the water… and that’s how the brine becomes anaerobic. Just make sure you place your jar in a glass baking dish or a bowl because when it gets bubbly some brine will seep out.

The metric system is the only way to go, especially for fermentation! I hate customary and imperial units haha

Reply
Steve Mitchener November 3, 2021 - 6:19 am

Many thanks for your response. Greatly appreciated! Another question if I may? Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi have gut-friendly probiotic bacteria. I understand these will pass naturally into our microbiome when the food is consumed raw. Are these bacteria destroyed if the food is subsequently heated, which you might do if serving a hot meal? Many thanks. Steve

Reply
Steve Mitchener November 25, 2021 - 11:58 am

This was my first attempt at fermenting anything … and I am delighted with the result. After 25 days, I have a quite sour, crunchy, fresh Kraut with overtones of ginger. I am very grateful for Kaitlynn’s blog and her responsiveness to my question. Many thanks.

Reply
Briana December 29, 2021 - 2:08 am

Do you have to use previously frozen beets?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley January 2, 2022 - 7:38 am

no, you can use fresh beets.

Reply
Liz A. April 4, 2022 - 12:51 pm

Hi Kaitlynn- questions for you. I love a kraut from Wildbrine that is similar to this recipe but they also included pear with the beets and red cabbage. I would love to make my own version but am wondering if I add some pear to this recipe can I keep the amount of other ingredients the same? Or would I keep the weight of the beets and pear together to 100 grams? If not, what would be your suggestion on how many grams of pear to add?

Newer to fermenting so I appreciate any advice!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley April 11, 2022 - 10:18 am

Hi there!

You want to keep the weight of the beets and pears together at 100 grams.

Reply
JBethmann April 29, 2022 - 10:00 am

I hopped on this site loving that same Wildbrine kraut and am so thankful for your Q and Kaitlynn’s answer 🙂

Reply
Rebecca June 2, 2022 - 8:05 pm

Hi! Is it possible to leave the beets out or to substitute for an equal weight of additional cabbage? Thanks in advance!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley June 4, 2022 - 9:16 am

absolutely!

Reply
Marilyn June 17, 2022 - 12:59 am

JBETHMANN, me, too! I just love that WildBrine Kraut. Sprouts quit carrying it, & the other 2 stores that carry it don’t always have it in stock. It is the yummiest!

Reply
SMP August 1, 2022 - 8:16 am

The way I make kraut, I don’t know until the end how much water I’ll need. I wonder if making a 2.5 concentration of brine, I can just add as much brine/water as needed once my jar is packed with cabbage. Of course, I would have used the proper amount of salt for the cabbage earlier. Your web site is a game changer and quite possibly a life saver! thank you so much.

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 1, 2022 - 9:31 am

My recipes are tested to fit a quart mason jar. But yes that should work! as long as you account for salt with the cabbage weight too.

Reply
Cecile September 29, 2022 - 11:24 pm

Do you just use a regular canning lid?
Also, would I be able to reuse the plastic jar from Wildbrine to make the kraut?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley September 30, 2022 - 8:21 am

There is a list of recommended equipment above the recipe card in the blog post. I do not suggest fermenting in plastic.

Reply

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