No Shampoo & Sauerkraut; An Update

Not long ago, a reader asked us for an update on my no shampoo experience and how our sauerkraut was doing. So, here it is.

I quit using shampoo in March, 2014. I posted updates on my progress at three months and six months. I have to tell you, after looking back at these articles, I think my hair looks better now than ever. 

Before I started, March 20, 2014

Comparing the first picture, March 20, 2014, and today, I can see where my hair is healthier and has a more natural shine. I have continued to use only baking soda and water for my ‘shampoo’, along with apple cider vinegar and water for my ‘conditioner’. I still have the occasional itch on my scalp from psoriasis, but nothing compared to what it was when I used commercial products. I have not used any of the prescription medication I needed for decades to control the itch on my scalp. I couldn’t be happier.

April 22, 2014

June 12, 2014

September 24, 2014

June 5, 2015

This was one of the many steps Frank and I have taken to decrease our chemical exposure and intake, in our effort to improve our overall health. Fermenting our own sauerkraut has been one of the most recent experiments I have conducted on Frank. At first we were both hesitant, but now we’re not at all. We happily eat our kraut at least six days a week. Sometimes it just doesn’t fit into the meal, and a few times, I just plain forgot to serve it.

The current batch we’re eating now was a combination of        1 1/2 heads of cabbage and about 15 large carrots. This is okay, but the vegetables are softer and don’t taste quite as good as the plain cabbage. It was something I wanted to try, but probably won’t do this combination again.

I removed all of the carrot/cabbage kraut from the crock two days ago and stored it in the refrigerator. We got about four quarts this time. I don’t pack it down solid, so it’s not a full four quarts, but it is enough to last us quite a while. We eat about a 1/4 to a 1/3 of a cup per serving. 


Since the crock and fermentation process seem to be going well, this time I put    3 1/2 heads of cabbage in the crock, filling it pretty full. I continue to use some of the juice or liquid from the previous batch to inoculate, or speed up the fermenting process. I also drink some of it on occasion when we get to the bottom of a jar. It is pretty stout stuff, but it’s good. We prefer the cabbage shredded, which I do with our KitchenAid. I have started using sea salt instead of regular table salt for the minerals it contains. I use it in all of my cooking as well as the kraut. 

I add a little vinegar in the moat to keep it from getting slimy.

This summer I hope to try fermenting some of our garden produce, like cucumbers, okra, turnips, peppers and beets. It would be nice to discover another vegetable, or combination of vegetables we enjoy as much as we do the cabbage.

I appreciate Deb’s request for an update on these two topics. There isn’t any reason for me to ever use commercial products on my hair again. What I am doing now is effective, keeps my hair and scalp healthier, my hair looks better and another added benefit is that it costs pennies on the dollar compared to commercial products. The sauerkraut experience has shown us another way to improve our health by making something for ourselves instead of depending on someone else to do it for us. It takes time, planning and effort on our part, but the health benefits of consuming fermented foods well outweigh the effort expended. It’s a great life. One full of learning, work and progress. I am grateful.

Until next time – Fern

22 thoughts on “No Shampoo & Sauerkraut; An Update

  1. to make apple cider vinegar: fill large glass jar with apple scraps like after you make a pie. put it all in there, peels seeds and all. cram it in till no more fits up to 1 inch of jar. now fill with water. filtered rainwater is best but use what ya got. cover the jar with plastic wrap on top, poke some holes in wrap for air. put in dark place that's warm. forget about it. a month later go check it. the longer you leave it, the stronger it will be. if it sits a couple months it will be very strong and you might want to dilute by half or so.

  2. Great information, Kathy, thank you. And thank you for the link to your post. It's always nice to see how other folks accomplish the same task differently.Fern

  3. Jessica, I think it is a 5 liter crock. It really holds a lot.My hair is so soft and much easier to comb out. I don't even use a brush anymore. It's always nice to hear from another no-poo person, especially one with long hair.I'm glad you are finding something useful here. Thank you for the kind words.Fern

  4. Lots of good thoughts in your comment, Deb. Unless you can measure the acidity of homemade vinegar, everything I've read indicates you shouldn't use it for pickling. A hydrometer will measure it for you.There are so many skills that have been lost or are no longer practiced, Deb. It's a good idea to have a skill, or be able to make something that you can barter when the time comes. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your thoughts.Fern

  5. Tewshooz, I have to ask for more information about the hypothyroidism, since I have it, too. Why do you say you have to be careful? I haven't run across anything warning about thyroid and the cabbage family.No, you didn't miss that post because we haven't made the soap yet. Part of it is the lye fear, part of it is lack of time. We talk about it from time to time. I need to go back and watch the YouTubes on soap making again and get motivated to get some made. But things will have to calm down a little here first. We're not always this busy, but this year seems to have turned into a whirlwind. But it's for a good reason. Things are happening quickly in the world and too many indicators are pointing towards calamitous times not far down the road. Thank you for sharing, Tewshooz.Fern

  6. Thanks, Kymber. There are lots of folks that make fermented vegetables in jars like you do. I liked the idea of using the crock, but I will probably use jars this summer and see if I can ferment pickles from cucumbers and peppers. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  7. Deb, fermented vegetables are very good for your whole digestive system. On the first sauerkraut post there are links to some very good information on health and fermented foods. I learned a great deal while researching how and why people make their own sauerkraut. Frank and I were both very concerned with the correct procedure to follow so the food wouldn't make us sick. Please read the post on adjusting to fermented foods. Sometimes they initially cause some folks difficulty, so you may need to monitor how you introduce these foods into your diet. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  8. The expensive probiotics that you are taking are not nearly as good as the live ones in the kraut. The book you have by Sandor Katz will explain it better than I can, but depending on the source and treatment of the vegetables there can be two dozen different good, live bacteria. A really easy system for less than 20 bucks is an airlock, has them with mason jar lid, sea salt and a recipe book with very good step by step instructions. Sauerkraut in 7 – 10 days, I have several quarts in the frig now. Another favorite are the Mexican carrots and peppers that I just sort of made up. Wow! so good.

  9. Fern – thanks for both updates! your hair does look better and stronger. i have been shampoo-free for about 4 years and i swear by it. i love apple cider vinegar as a conditioner (so does hubby). i am really glad to hear that you and Frank are enjoying your sauerkraut. we also like carrot with daikon radish as they have the same texture. i am going to do a couple of different fermented food posts in the next little while. it seems that many people are interested in trying probiotic food that they can make themselves and i am all for it. keep up the good work with these wonderful posts!your friend,kymber

  10. Kathy – that is exactly how i make my sauerkraut as we don't have a crock. i am going to check out your blog now – thanks for sharing.

  11. deb – i have read that fermented foods will help with the digestive system and bowel. and you don't need a crock to make fermented food – you can make fermented veg/sauerkraut in a regular mason jar. i will put up some more recipes for fermented food on our food blog in the next few days and hopefully you will enjoy some of them. and i agree, Fern and Frank's posts are really helpful (i think it's because they are both trained and experienced teachers!).

  12. For anyone who is waiting for a crock to try fermenting the sauerkraut, my grandmother taught me to layer shredded cabbage in a large bowl with salt about 2 tbsp per gal. put in mason jars, then loosely put on the lids, unscrew and let the air escape every day for about 5 days and it ferments in the jar, this keeps for about 6 months in a cool dark place! Grandmas hint – set your jars on a tray as it will ooze! I have done this and it works a charm although it is quicker in the summer but cooler weather makes a slightly less intense taste. Save one leaf for each jar and fold and put it in the top of each jar. I did a full tutorial on it here- [ ] Don't let lack of a crock inhibit you!!

  13. Hello Frank and Fern, may I ask what size fermentation pot you are using?I am so happy to see another no-poo convert! I have been using no-poo for a several years and I love it. While we lived in Colorado, my hair was so soft after washing that I could brush it wet (I could never brush it wet with store bought products, my hair is long too.) We have been in California for the last two years and the no-poo still works, but not nearly as great. I think it is because of the hard water here. (We are going to be moving to Nebraska so we are not going to look into a water softener to combat the hard water issue.)I love your blog, thank you for sharing all that you do!

  14. f 'n' fhi. deb here.the other book from france is,'preserving food without freezing or canningtraditional techniques using salt, oil, sugar, alcohol,vinegar, drying,cold storage,and lactic fermentation.'by the gardeners and farmers of terre vivanteit makes you think of skills that we are dependent upon others for- making alcohol, growing a sugar substitute, storing lots of salt, being able to grow an oil crop and extract the oil, building a spring house,where possible, for cold storage.'sixbears in the woods' just showed a picture of his refrigerator with a copper coil bearing water from his well, which is ice cold. keeps his fridge at the correct sells an oil extractor .the american indians fought battles over salt. we live near salt springs road, where i come from there is a town named salt rock, and saltsburg is in western pennsylvania, where i heard the local saying, 'go pound salt!', which is equivalent to , 'kiss my foot!' as said by my daddy.patrice lewis at 'rural revolution' makes her own vinegar but i don't know if she uses it for pickling.a helpful reader at 'the survivalist' told me there is available an instrument which can read the acidity of vinegar so you know it is strong enough to be safe for preserving.up here we could get maple sap for sugarit is worth thinking about to learn to build a small distiller of some sort.there are so many things to think about. i hope enterprising people will begin to hone new skills so they can trade with the rest of is rather overwhelming.TEWSHOOZ did you post the shampoo recipe? if not could you do so?many thanks frank and fern for a lovely and encouraging website.deb h.

  15. Great post, Fern. I would love to eat sauerkraut and kimchee, but with hypothyroidism, have to be very careful with cabbage family. I wanted to ask you how your soap making turned out…..did I miss that post? I make a shampoo bar and that is what we use with a vinegar or lemon juice rinse. Feel so much better since eating mostly organic. You are such busy folks!

  16. thanks for the updates.i want to try the soda and vinegar hair care method.i bought a fermenting book but have not yet obtained a crock.i follow your column with interest because i can learn from you from the ground up.i have read that fermented foods are helpful to the bowel.i have so much trouble with what is left of my bowel. i take probiotics and have started eating macaroons as i learned that coconut is very good for the bowels. it does seem to be helping.i must learn to make macaroons as the store bought are too sweet and too expensive.if i can make kraut it is possible that i may be able to somewhat restore a damaged and scarred intestine.kymber at 'framboise manor' has also a cooking web site and she recently wrote an article on how to make kim chi. i am going to see if she has anything else like it listed in her cooking site.we bought 'wild fermentation' by sandor katz, 'fermenting for dummies', and a french book about all types of preservation including preserving in oil.i have not read then through yet since they were recent acquisitions.your hands on explanation and pictures have been a help.i've never done anything like it before and i don't want to poison the family or waste foodmany thanks.deb h..

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