Chop or grate the cabbage. It can be done fine or coarse and you can include the hearts or not, it’s all up to your preference. As you grate it place it in a very large glass bowl.
Sprinkle the salt on the cabbage as you go. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage and creates the brine. It also keeps it crunchy and inhibits organisms, which cause it to be soft. You will need more salt in warm weather and less salt in cooler or cold weather.
If adding other vegetables or fruits add them now. Make sure they are chopped or grated. This is also the time to add any herbs or spices.
Mix the ingredients together in the bowl then pack them into your crock, a little at a time while pressing it down with your fist or some other heavy utensil. This is to pack the cabbage in tight and force water out of the cabbage.
Cover the sauerkraut with the plate or some other appropriate type lid as long as it fits in there snugly. Now place a clean weight on top. Make sure your plate is heavy enough to withstand the weight. They should keep the cabbage submerged and force water out of the cabbage.
Cover with your towel or pillowcase to keep out dirt and flies. If you tie a heavy string around or use a large rubber band it will help to keep out fruit flies which might find a way in otherwise.
Periodically press down on the weight to add pressure to the cabbage. Every couple hours if you can remember to do so. The brine should rise above the plate and it could take 24 hours to do so. If it doesn’t mix a teaspoon of sea salt to every cup of water and add it until the plate is submerged.
Now leave it to ferment somewhere in the kitchen, so it’s out of the way. You can put it in the cooler basement for a slower ferment.
Check your sauerkraut every few days. The volume will reduce as the fermentation process proceeds along. If mold appears on top just skim off what you can get off. If you leave any behind it’s nothing to worry about, as this is a natural phenomenon.
Rinse off the weight and plate and taste it. The kraut will be tangy after a couple days and will become stronger as time passes. In a cool cellar in the winter it will keep improving over months. In the summer or a heated room the cycle will be more rapid and it will soon be soft and less flavorful.
Scoop some out of the crock an keep it in the fridge. Each time you do this make sure it’s packed back down well so that it’s covered in liquid. The flavor will evolve over the period of a few weeks. The juice is a great digestive tonic. If your brine evaporates, add more salted water.
To keep a perpetual amount of sauerkraut on hand when it gets down start a new batch and pack the new fresh salted cabbage in the crock and pour the old kraut and juice on top. This gives the new kraut a boost with an active culture to start it.
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