Sauerkraut Steak Recipe

Ferment and pickle slabs of cabbage for another take on the traditional sauerkraut dish, an attempt by the author to reconnect to her heritage.

| September 2019


In a Polish and Ukrainian-rooted American family, it’s pretty likely that you have some serious cabbage traditions. In my family, it’s gwumpki (also called stuffed cabbage). If my dad didn’t keep to his pre-Christmas Eve tradition of boiling cabbage and rolling gwumpki until 2 or 3 a.m., I don’t think my family would recognize the next night as Christmas Eve. In my pickle-related efforts to reconnect to my heritage, I’ve come across so many ways of pickling cabbage. I’ve probably tasted hundreds of versions before making this one my new cabbage tradition. I love to imagine my own ancestors popping a crock of this open during the cold, gray, Ukrainian winter to discover the brightest burst of color and flavor.

Yield: 5 heads of cabbage


Per 3 gallons (11.4 L) of crock space

  • 5 heads red cabbage (about 13 pounds, or 6 kg)
  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup (27 g) caraway seeds
  • 1 bunch of dill
  • 1 red onion, thickly sliced
  • 8 small, dried Thai chili peppers (optional)
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 1 1/3 cups (245 g) kosher salt  
  • 1 1/2 gallons (5.7 L) filtered water


  1. Rinse the cabbages and remove and set aside any undesirable outer leaves. Cut the cabbages in half.
  2. Place the garlic, caraway, dill, onion, chilis, bay leaves, and juniper berries into the crock and begin the process of fitting in the cabbage halves. Don’t be afraid to maneuver. Leave 4 inches (10 cm) at the top of the crock. If you can’t get the halves to fit, or if they’re just a bit too high in the crock, remove 1 or 2 halves and cut them in half. Cabbage quarters can be fit in a bit more easily than halves. Apply the crock weights.
  3. Stir the salt into the water until dissolved and then pour the brine into the crock until there is a 1-inch (2.5 cm) brine layer above the cabbage.
  4. Ferment for 2 to 5 months. Serve as thick slices.

Also from Ferment Your Vegetables:

ferment-your-vegetableFermented vegetables are a great, healthy addition to anyone's diet. Abundant in probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and more, research continues to reveal the many ways that these foods positively contribute to our well-being. From kimchi and sauerkraut to pickles and kvass, fermented foods have been part of the human diet for millennia — and are rightfully reclaiming their place at our daily table. The idea of fermenting vegetables at home can be intimidating for those who have never tried it before. The truth is, it's quite easy once you learn just a few basic concepts. In Ferment Your Vegetables, author Amanda Feifer, fermentation expert and founder of, serves as your guide, showing you, step by step, how you can create traditional, delicious fermented food at home, using only simple ingredients and a little time. No fancy starters or elaborate equipment required. Ferment Your Vegetables will make beginners wonder why they didn't start sooner, and give veteran fermenters loads of new ideas and techniques to try at home. All aboard the probiotic train!

Reprinted with permission from Ferment Your Vegetables: A Fun and Flavorful Guide to Making Your Own Pickles, Kimchi, Kraut and More by Amanda Feifer and published by Quarto, 2015.



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