The Fatal Mistakes of Soggy Sauerkraut

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

I got an amazing question from a fellow health coach just the other day.

“I made a huge batch of cultured veggies and they came out soggy and boy, are they pungent. I followed Donna Gates’s recipe in the Body Ecology Diet, Version 1. I shredded the cabbage in the food processor and made a brine in the blender. Maybe I should have sliced the cabbage instead of shredding? Is the absence of salt the reason why they are soggy? I would love to enjoy but I just don’t like the taste and certainly can’t ask clients to eat it. Any tips? Thanks much!”


Here is the link to the recipe to which Christine refers:

Christine, first off, congrats on the attempt. Fermenting your own foods is an exciting adventure into a new realm of food preparation…preservation to be exact. The only way to learn is to try.

Based off your results, I can share a few of my expert sauerkraut-making tips:

  • I rarely recommend adding water or brine to any sauerkraut because it dilutes the flavor tremendously and isn’t necessary if you are making it properly.
  • Never use starter when making sauerkraut or raw cultured veggies. Based on my research, I have found that it impacts and changes the final probiotic strains. The best probiotics for you are found in sauerkraut that is WILD fermented without starter culture.
  • It is best to ferment in a crock and not in a jar where you are putting a lid on. Lacto-fermentation shouldn’t happen in a air-tight environment unless you have an airlock, which allows gases to escape the jar.
  • If you choose to use the whole cabbage leaves as a way to ‘fill the remaining 2 inch space” it is imperative that you keep the leaves covered in the brine. You may have to push the leaves down daily for a few days until they stay put under the brine. This is one of the main causes of mushy kraut when yeasts start feeding on the cabbage leaves that are poking out above the brine.
  • I’m curious how long you let yours ferment. Three days is an exceptionally short amount of time for fermentation. I recommend at least a week and often 2-4 weeks before jarring it and placing it in the fridge.
  • I must say, that saltless sauerkraut is not easy for the beginner to make. It is a more advanced technique of sauerkraut-making, and has wayyy more failed attempts than salted sauerkraut. Yes, salt has a huge impact on crunchiness. But with practice (and a better recipe) you can make saltless sauerkraut that is delicious.

Thanks again for the great question. Good luck in your future sauerkraut-making adventures.

If you want any additional support so you can share this healing food with your clients—including recipes and probiotic know how—feel free to check out my Fermentation Certification Program.