Does homemade Sauerkraut Contain Alcohol?

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Does homemade Sauerkraut Contain Alcohol?

Gutsy Ferments - not homemade sauerkraut

Does Homemade Sauerkraut Contain Alcohol?

People have asked this question a surprising number of of times, “does homemade sauerkraut contain alcohol”?  Does Gutsy Sauerkraut contain Alcohol?  What about other fermented vegetables, do they contain alcohol?

“YES” is the simple answer.  If you ferment anything, it will have trace amounts of alcohol.  We’ll try to run you through the basics.

Work out how much alcohol your Sauerkraut will produce

We ferment Gutsy sauerkraut for approximately 4 weeks.  We will use Gutsy kraut as an example because it’s what I know.  You can break cabbage fermentation can be broken into 2 stages:

Stage 1 heterolactic fermentation

Heterolactic fermentation lasts for approximately 7 – 9 days, depending on temperature.  During heterolactic fermentation the naturally occurring glucose in cabbage is converted into lactic acid, carbon dioxide and ethanol.  Good bacteria that live on, and in, and around the cabbage  propagate wildly during this stage.

Stage 2 homolactic fermentation

Homolactic fermentation lasts for the rest of our fermentation period and only lactic acid is produced.  Negligible amounts of ethanol and very small amounts of carbon dioxide are produced during this stage.  All throughout homolactic fermentation probiotics are still happily multiplying.

To work out the alcohol content, we are only concerned with stage 1, where some ethanol is formed.  Sugar is the main factor when it comes to determining alcohol content.  Very roughly, every mole of sugar converts into a mole of ethanol.  If there’s more sugar available at the beginning of the fermentation, more alcohol will be produced.  An average cabbage contains just over 3g of sugar per 100g.  Approximately 0.2g of sugar per 100g (0.2%) of cabbage is converted during the first 9 days of fermentation.  Glucose has a molar weight of 180g while the molar weight of ethanol is 46g.  This means that at worst there could be 0.051% alcohol in our sauerkraut.  That’s less than the amount of alcohol in a ripe banana!

How Much Alcohol is ok?

Queensland legislates that food and beverages must contain less than 0.5% alcohol to be sold as a “non-alcoholic beverage”, our Gutsy sauerkraut has much less alcohol than that.

You could make your homemade sauerkraut more alcoholic by adding sugar to it before the fermentation process begins.  Who knows, you might start a new trend!  


If you don’t want to make your own Kraut, we can make it for you.  See what we have at our online shop.  Or you could buy our recipe book and start fermenting yourself at home.


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