Canning Cabbage (How to Make Sauerkraut)

by Merissa on August 19, 2013

in Canning and Preserving

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Sauerkraut is thinly sliced cabbage that has become fermented. In German the word sauerkraut literally translates to “sour cabbage.” This recipe requires very few ingredients as the fermentation process happens naturally when the sugars in the cabbage begin to break down and produce lactic acid. Instead of canning cabbage or traditional canned cabbage, you may consider this recipe an alternative. Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this post to see why.

Canning Cabbage or How to Make Sauerkraut

What You Need:

  • 2 large heads of cabbage
  • 4 – 1 quart jars, sterilized
  • water
  • 4 tsp vinegar, separated
  • 4 tsp canning salt, separated
  • 4 tsp sugar, separated

Canning Cabbage - Little House Living

Rinse your cabbage and remove the outer leaves that may have dents or abrasions.

Canning Cabbage - Little House Living

Starting at the bottom cut each into 4 quarters. This makes it a little easier to then remove the inner core of the cabbage and discard.

Canning Cabbage - Little House Living

Continue to cut the cabbage in thin strips. Cut those strips in half as well.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Canning Cabbage - Little House Living

Pack the cabbage into 4 separate quart jars. You’ll want to pack it firmly as the pieces will become softer and condense after being heated. Just be careful not to tear or bruise the cabbage strips in the process. If you have extra cabbage left over just set it aside, you may be able to use it later once you add the water to the jars.

Add 1 tsp. of sugar, 1 tsp. of salt, and 1 tsp. of vinegar to each jar.

Pour the boiling water in each jar. Use a spoon to press the cabbage back down if it begins to rise with the water. If you notice this freeing up space in your jars, go ahead and add any additional cabbage had left over. Leave a 1-inch headspace in the jars.

Canning Cabbage - Little House Living

Try to remove any bubbles you see in the jar. I like to use the opposite end of a spoon or any other kitchen utensil. Wipe the rims clean and attach your lids securely.

Process your jars in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Allow your jars to sit undisturbed for at least 10 days to "pickle". A dark, cool pantry is ideal for this.

Canning Cabbage - Little House Living

Note: You CAN can cabbage, however the USDA does not recommend this. Up until about 10 years ago it was acceptable to can cabbage and now they have decided differently because of concerns with botulism. If you decide to can cabbage, simply make the above recipe and process quarts in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. If you want to can plain cabbage (not pickled), keep out the vinegar and pressure can at 10 pounds of pressure for 55 minutes. As I'm sure you know, we here at Little House Living don't always agree with everything the USDA says but please can at your own risk.

You can also freeze cabbage by simply shredded and placing in a freezer bag. Any canned cabbage will discolor over time and this is natural.

*Contact your local extension office for information on altitude/temp/timing changes for all canning recipes.

Make sure you check out all the free Canning and Preserving Recipes we have on Little House Living!

I recommend a Presto Pressure Canner and the book Putting Food By for all your canning projects!

Have you ever tried canning cabbage or making your own homemade sauerkraut? How did it turn out?


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Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

9:00 am

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenny August 19, 2013 at 10:18 am

Okay so does this turn out tasting like sauerkraut? I have tried the way the usda recommends and it made my house stink but it was very good. I am really hoping that this turns out like kraut. We love it and I have alot of cabbage in the garden that I need to use up.


2 Merissa August 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Maybe a little more “pickly” that the regular version since it doesn’t need to site as long but yes, very similar.


3 Lana August 19, 2013 at 11:30 am

So, does this ferment into sauerkraut after canning? And how long does it need to sit? Confused.


4 Merissa August 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm

If you don’t add the vinegar it won’t ferment/pickle when it’s pressure canned.


5 joanne February 28, 2014 at 5:32 pm

So if I am going to make the sauerkraut do I put in hot water canner for 20 minutes? I don’t have a pressure canner.


6 Merissa February 28, 2014 at 5:34 pm

As long as you plan on adding the vinegar, yes you make this in a hot water bath canner. If you don’t plan on adding vinegar it will need to be pressure canned.


7 Franceska January 20, 2015 at 11:51 am

Just got a pressure canner for Christmas. I have 2 heads sliced FROZEN cabbage from the Fall. I would love to make sauerkraut, am I reading this correct that I am unable to pressure CAN sauerkraut but I am able to HOT WATER CAN it? If I choose this route, what is the best way to thaw the cabbage to get ready for jars?

8 Megan August 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I didn’t realize how simple this was. Thank you for the recipe! I will be sharing this with my cabbage-loving friends!


9 Lana August 19, 2013 at 5:45 pm

How long would you water bath pints of the pickled version? I would be the only one who would eat this and quarts would be too much.


10 Merissa August 19, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I would still process them for 20 minutes.


11 Lana August 19, 2013 at 7:11 pm



12 Billie August 19, 2013 at 8:15 pm

I just wanted to point out that this is not “real” sauerkraut as it is pickled not fermented…someone asked about fermentation above, with the addition of the vinegar it will not ferment. Also traditional sauerkraut is a raw product…no boiling allowed.


13 Merissa August 19, 2013 at 9:30 pm

I did state that above that this is more of a “pickled cabbage” than a true sauerkraut.


14 Michaelann Dahlman August 20, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I am wondering if you can also use the purple cabbage for this? I Have plenty of both right now, so I am considering trying a small batch, to see if I like it.


15 Merissa August 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm

You should be able to. May just have a little more crunch to it 🙂


16 Kim July 20, 2014 at 7:18 am

The purple cabbage would make pretty jars. I like to look back at the pantry at the end of a long day canning and seeing all the pretty jars.


17 Rob August 22, 2013 at 5:54 am

Very interesting 🙂 So like you said, this is more of a pickled cabbage rather then a true Saur Kraut since the ingredients needed to make Saur Kraut is 5 pounds of shredded cabbage to 3 table spoons of non iodized salt…and yes it does fill up the house when it ferments, lol……..I may try your recipe some time, it looks more like my chow chow recipe 🙂 wonderful site by the way. love visiting it all the time


18 Alecia August 22, 2013 at 9:04 am

My husbands very large adn very Polish family has a sauerkraut party every November where they shred, salt and pound 75+ lbs of cabbage into buckets for fermentation. This looks a lot easier 🙂 I’ll pass this on to my husband


19 Sue August 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

I did not know you can freeze cabbage. My daughter said recently she read people are freezing lettuce too.


20 Peggy Lindenthaler August 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Is it still too late to plant cabbage? I live in Arizona, up in the north central part in Prescott Valley. I was wondering if I’d be able to get the cabbage planted and harvested before it’s too late? Also, in my area, are there other green vegetables I can plant, and if so, would they work with container gardening? We rent a duplex, and we aren’t allowed to dig up the yard to plant, but I know that raised beds work kind of well, and I planted some radishes in a long rectangular plant pot, and although they mostly came out soft and really hot, they did grow fairly well. I’d like to plant some eggplant, tomatoes and squash and cabbage. My husband and I are trying to eat better, partly because we’re both extremely overweight, but mainly because he is diabetic and I’m almost diabetic. Would cabbage work, as well as the other vegetables I mentioned, or do I have to wait until next year to plant? Thanks for your time.




21 Lana in MI August 23, 2013 at 3:46 pm

THANK YOU!!!! My hubby always plants a ton of cabbage and I had NO idea you could CAN it! THANK YOU THANK YOU! I will be doing this!


22 connie August 28, 2013 at 7:05 am

Could you tell my what kind of vinegar to use I thought my grandmother just used reg salt and don’t remember what kind of vinegar thank you


23 Merissa August 28, 2013 at 7:49 am

I would use regular (white) vinegar for these.


24 jaime April 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm

There were a couple of individuals that commented on making old fashion sourkraut. I would love to have inst. on making it. My water content was low when placing it in the jars. Full details from beginning would be great. Thanks.


25 Merissa April 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm

My mom makes old fashioned sauerkraut via the fermenting method. I can ask if she will share in an upcoming blog post.


26 maria September 11, 2016 at 11:32 am

Once again, this is NOT sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is “fermented” like wine. The “vinegary” taste in kraut comes from the fermenting process. Kraut is raw and take several days or weeks to completely ferment. This is a yummy pickled recipe – like making dill pickles. Both delicious but different products. We use this to make vinegar slaw by adding olive oil and spices when we open a jar. My family loves it!


27 Tana April 23, 2014 at 11:54 am

My husbands family are great lovers of sauerkraut. I personally am not. I remember my grandmother making it the old fashioned way. I think it was the smell that repelled me then. Now, it is the process and the smell. I will be trying this recipe and see if my husband likes it.


28 Diana June 25, 2014 at 7:37 am

We use to make kraut like this, we farmed & always had plenty of sauerkraut all winter. Thanks for the recipe!


29 Chris August 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Can I add a few shredded carrots? Ty


30 Merissa August 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Yes, as long as you are doing the vinegar version or storing it in the fridge.


31 Christie August 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm

What is the shelf life for the pickled version?


32 Merissa August 27, 2014 at 8:38 am

I try and keep all canned foods no longer than 3 years.


33 Thurman September 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I followed the direction just as stated. After removing the jars from the water bath I hand tightened the jars. 30 minutes or so later the jars begin to pop (jars sealing). I stored the jars in the bottom of kitchen cabinets. After 3 or 4 days passed we began to hear popping noise. When I checked the jars I discovered the lids had popped back up. I presuming it from the gasses. Is this normal or should I discard this batch and try again?


34 Merissa September 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Yes it means they were improperly sealed. Jar lids should not be tightened or touched once they come out of the hot water bath until they have cooled and sealed.


35 Cindy September 3, 2014 at 7:22 am

I’m prepping my cabbage now how small of pieces should they be. Is size real important? Have never made kraut before.


36 Merissa September 3, 2014 at 7:52 am

Just regular shredded size or a little bigger is about how they should be.


37 Melinda September 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I’ve both fermented and canned/pickled for several years now. I can see how some folks who might be looking into fermentation could be confused by this post. Often when people are looking into fermenting foods it is due to health issues they are trying to heal. Both canning and fermenting are excellent methods for preserving foods, but when we ferment every single vitamin, mineral, and nutrient in the food gets amplified exponentially, whereas heat processing actually kills some of the original nutrients in the food. This cabbage will not ferment after the fact; it’s a pickled cabbage and there’s nothing wrong with that, I can just see how it couldbe confusing for newbies who may have found there way here searching for info on fermenting. Vinegar is for pickling and has no place in the fermentation process, so that should be a wondering person’s clue if they’re looking at a pickling or a fermentation recipe:-). Hope this helps clear up some confusion. Those interested in fermenting sauerkraut will find awesome tutorials on YouTube searching Sandor Katz Wild Fermentation. You’re also welcome to email questions to me at [email protected] Many blessing and happy preserving!!!


38 Valerie November 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Thank you for you dis-claimer. It was very well spoken and I understood what you were saying from beginning to end. I’m just getting into canning and I remember my Grandmother canning cabbage and calling it Catchup. She added the last of what was on the vine , that had to pickbecause the frost would take them. These green tomatoes were added along with a small amount of some jalapeno’s was added and we called it Cachup. then she also canned ferment just cabbage . She also did rim pickles. Then in the 80’s it change to salt pickles . I so miss these items in my life and I’m trying to put together the recipes she had . I’m from KY.


39 lori p November 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm

is it ok to use lemon juice instead of vinegar when canning cabbage in a boiling water canner?


40 Merissa November 4, 2014 at 6:22 pm

It should be, just make sure to use a bottled lemon juice so the acid level is stable.


41 Pefry February 28, 2015 at 10:58 am

I was given instructions from farm ladies to make sauerkraut like this; however, it did not make use of canning or water bath. I just put it in the cellar for 3-6 weeks (still good after a year or two). We have made it in a crock, etc., but have liked this the best.

After filling the quart jar and adding 1 tsp. Salt, 1 tsp. Sugar and 1 tsp. Vinegar and covered with boiling water and capped: “Set in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks on top of newspaper or a towel. As the cabbage ferments, gas and bubbles will form which force air out of the jar thus sealing the jar. Sometimes the brine will overflow during fermentation so that is why it is recommended placing your jars on paper. Any jars that do not seal completely should be eaten as soon as possible.”

To answer the question you have not yet asked: No, we never got sick, etc., from eating sauerkraut made this way and the taste never made us cringe from the sourness of it. This sauerkraut was one of the main reasons we grew cabbage.


42 Tami June 12, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Did it ferment, since there is vinegar in it? Or was this, also, a more “pickled” version?


43 Tammie June 14, 2015 at 9:29 pm

I moved to Kentucky late last year and planted an enormous garden. With the help of my 9 year old, we have grown 8 huge heads of cabbage. I have made Sauerkraut the old fashion way in a crock and then canned it. Our 97 year old aunt told us to use the 1 tsp of salt, sugar, and vinegar method. The jars are sealed and placed in the cool dark basement. I called Ace hardware and asked about a buying a crock and they told me to can it in the jar just as Pefry has written. I would think that this is pickled cabbage verses what I made in the past which is just cabbage, water and salt which would be fermented..??


44 Becky June 26, 2015 at 2:08 pm

We have always done it the way Prefry says minus the sugar and a little more vinegar. Whether it is considered “pickling” or “fermenting” the process has always taken approximately 6 weeks. The longer it sets the better it gets. We have never had any seep out of the top either.


45 Rae October 9, 2015 at 12:36 pm

If I am using pints do I only use 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp vinegar and 1/2 tsp non iodized salt? Also, 1/2″ headspace ok? Braggs organic acv ok to use? Thank you so much! Love your website!


46 Stephanie June 24, 2016 at 8:27 am

Wondering similar… I am wanting to use half pint (8 oz) jars, how much head space and how long to process? 1/2″? 10 or 15 min?? Hopefully you get this soon as I am working on this now… Thanks so much!!!


47 Kathy Johnson May 30, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Hi, I hope this thread is still “live”. I have just canned some cabbage using this recipe. I accidentally tightened my bands too much and five of the lids buckled a little during the processing. While still hot, I took the bands off and wiped the rims. Then I put fresh lids on and reprocessed for 20 minutes. I hope it will be all right. The cabbage is floating above liquid at the bottom of the jars. My earlier batch did not separate like this, but I may have packed it tighter. Do you think they will be safe to eat, if they are sealed tight when I remove the bands? Thank you so much for your kind help and for posting the wonderful information.


48 Merissa May 30, 2016 at 10:28 pm

If you removed the lids at any point you would need to reprocess the canned goods completely. As long as you did this and the jars are sealed properly they should be fine. I’m guessing that extra separation would be from cooking the cabbage twice, it probably is going to be a little soggy.


49 Jude July 17, 2016 at 10:30 pm

No one has mentioned how this is eaten. Is it cooked or is eaten cold out of the jar. if it is cooked how is it prepared? Thanks.


50 Mindie September 6, 2016 at 3:54 pm

I have a question. I used your post to make my sauerkraut. This is my first time making kraut. It’s been about 12 days and I have noticed four of my kids have popped back up and my jars have so much pressure in them they are forcing liquid out of the jar. Is the kraut bad now? Is this normal?


51 Mindie September 6, 2016 at 3:57 pm

I used your post to make my kraut. It has been about 12 days and 4 of my kids have popped back up and the jars have so much pressure inside they are leaking around the seal. Is this normal? Are those jars bad now? This is my first time making kraut so i have no idea what to expect.


52 maria September 11, 2016 at 11:36 am

Perhaps the recipe name should be changed to “pickled” cabbage rather than sauerkraut to clear up any confusion. 🙂


53 Ana Larson March 8, 2017 at 6:46 pm

I have used this method you write about and the fermenting method and love it. Now I would like to take my freshly frozen cabbage, let it partially defrost, seasalt it, add 1/4 cup organic raw apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of raw honey, and 1 regular size raw onion sliced thinly, mix it up and let it ferment naturally in the cabinet for 3 days covered with a tied clean cloth. I have never done this with the frozen thawed cabbage and wondered what you thought? I know frozen cabbage by itself would not ferment but it becomes like cooked cabbage and if you put it with the other stuff that does ferment would it not work out just not firm? Our cabbage when fermented is too hard for my taste, I have teeth problem and wondered what ideas or experience you had with any of this? Of course everything is clean and sterilized minus the food.


54 Reths April 18, 2017 at 9:37 pm

I make my first two jars of sauerkraut two weeks ago and it was great. Canning destroys the good probiotics so I’m just going to keep a few jars going all the time. I like to just eat it cold out of the jar.


55 Geri B. April 23, 2017 at 7:32 am

We have been canning cabbage for many years. we cut it up with a mandolin and layer it in a large crock with salt and Granny Smith apple slices, pounding it down on every layer to about 2/3 full. Then we put ziploc water bags to keep it pressed down. Cover with towels and let it ferment for about 2 weeks, skimming off the foam as needed. Then we bag and freeze. Recipe from my husbands parents. Never had an issue. Best sauerkraut ever!


56 Faye June 23, 2017 at 3:41 pm

This is a wonderful recipe. I’m German,Irish,etc and my family Haas made it like this since my grandfather used to complain about the smell,lol. You can also add onions,caraway seeds,any spice you like. The only difference we do is wilt the cabbage first by putting cabbage in a heat safe bowl and pouring boiling water over it and let it set 10-20mins. This makes the cabbage pack better and you don’t lose the packing while processing the jars!


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