An Easy Salt-Free Sauerkraut Recipe

This salt-free sauerkraut recipe makes easy work of this popular German condiment paired with hot dogs, sausages and German food.

| September/October 1985


Kraut has long been a harvest favorite, and now you can make it even more healthful!


Make this homemade salt-free sauerkraut recipe using these easy step-by-step instructions. 

An Easy Salt-Free Sauerkraut Recipe

Most every summer, when canning season rolled around, my grandfather could be heard to comment, "Pickles ain't my favorite food, but what else can you do with cucumbers?"

Those words of his came vividly to mind last summer when, as a result of overenthusiastic planting, my wife and I were faced, not with an abundance of cukes, but with a hundred heads of cabbage!

"Coleslaw?" I mused, as we contemplated the small mountain of red and green leafy heads.

"No, sauerkraut!" she replied.

Well, I thought we'd bettered Granddad's solution to the cucumber problem nicely. Though coleslaw certainly "ain't my favorite food," kraut is, to my mind, a preeminent edible. Furthermore, it's not only tasty but also very nutritious. In fact, sauerkraut actually contains more vitamin C than the cabbage it's made from.

3/12/2015 9:21:40 AM

I pounded the cabbage til my elbow is going out and there just is very little juice. I even added some salt reluctantly, but so far after an hour no juice. The cabbage is sweet and pretty juicy raw. Should I add some filtered water?

3/6/2014 6:58:47 PM

I forgot to mention that I never cook my kraut.

3/6/2014 6:56:56 PM

I have been making and eating Salt free sauerkraut since 1982 since I found Paul Braggs excellent book on Salt free sauerkraut, over the years I made hundreds of batches with no ill effect. The acid of the sauerkraut kills off any undesirable bacteria so MH comment on undesirable bacteria is in my opinion nonsense.I ferment my kraut in full sun and if it is cold I put it in a chest freezer with a lightbulb to keep it warm,I just speak out of experience of many years making sauerkraut. It takes about 8 or 9 days to fully ferment and I keep my kraut in the fridge after that, it does not spoil and I have eaten salt free sauerkraut that was more than a year old.

ann learner
3/24/2013 7:11:12 PM

MH is right. I have seen similar recipes that cook the kraut, when it is tasted or ready to use/store, to eliminate botulism (read elsewhere for time required). Kraut ( at least that made with salt) makes proboitics, but these are killed off in the cooking. Finding a recipe using acid may eliminate the salt and the botulism problem without the cooking. Since most kraut is made using salt or acid, it would darken the kraut and perhaps be dangerous to use a lid with any metal. Even without the salt or acid, it would still seem prudent to use a glass or a glazed plate or pie plate with no cracks in the glaze. Notice the recipe uses a wood baseball bat; probably to avoid darkening the kraut with metal problem. Smarter than trying to clean(?) a baseball bat, use a couple of wooden spoons or a wooden potato masher; they could even be dipped in boiling water to clean as you don't want a soapy taste. Using a rock introduces unknown minerals and microbes if it comes in contact with the liquid; put the rock or any weight in a bowl on top of the plate and there is no problem.

9/22/2010 1:06:12 PM

While the idea of low sodium sauerkraut is tempting this recipe is really quite dangerous. The role of salt in Sauerkraut is not a culinary one - it is not a matter of flavor. The purpose of adding salt is to inhibit the growth of dangerous bacterial strains that might otherwise take hold (including botulinium) in addition to or in place of the healthier strains that are normally responsible for the pickling process. Failing to add salt creates a significant risk of ending in either spoiled cabbage, or fatally poisonous cabbage. Herbs and other flavorings which can replace the flavor of salt in various dishes do not affect the extent to which these dangerous bacteria can flourish, and so cannot actually replace salt in making sauerkraut.

5/22/2009 1:39:04 AM

I found the editor's note somewhat confusing, because of the wording: there's less risk of spoilage if the kraut is allowed to "work" in an area that maintains a temperature of no more than 65 degrees I believe that "no more than" should be changed to its equivalent "less than." Otherwise it seems like maybe there is a grammatical error. I am assuming, based on the wording, that the kraut should be kept above 65 to avoid spoilage.

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