1 tablespoon sea salt per head of cabbage (where to buy)
If you need extra brine: 1 additional tablespoon of sea salt and 4 cups non-chlorinated water
Wash the cabbage and remove any wilted outer leaves.
Cut cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Slice into thin strips (approximately 1/4″ wide). Try to make the strips as uniform as possible, but don’t stress out about making them perfect.
Place the strips in a large bowl, and sprinkle the sea salt over the top.
Let your salted cabbage sit for about 15 minutes or so, and then start mashing, using a mallet, a blunt object, or just your hands – the point is to break down the cabbage and get the juices flowing.
Continue to mash the cabbage for about 8-10 minutes. You’re looking for a pool of salty cabbage juice sitting in the bottom of your bowl. Taste the juice in your bowl. If it doesn’t taste salty — like ocean water — then add a little more salt to get your ratios just right.
Place a couple handfuls of cabbage into the jar, then thoroughly pack down with a wooden spoon. The goal is to eliminate as many air bubbles as possible.
Repeat the packing and mashing until the jar is full; leave about 2″ at the top. If there is enough liquid flowing from your cabbage to cover it completely, Great! If not, no problem. If you you don’t have enough liquid to cover your cabbage, no problem; make a 2% brine solution to fill up the rest of the jar. (If you don’t completely submerse the cabbage in liquid, it’s susceptible to mold and other gunk). If there is enough liquid flowing from your cabbage to cover it completely, congrats!
To Make a 2% Brine: Dissolve 1 tablespoon fine sea salt in 4 cups non-chlorinated water. If you don’t use all of the brine for this recipe, it will keep indefinitely in the fridge.
The finer the salt, the less stirring necessary to dissolve. Ultra-fine salt dissolves almost immediately.
Cover the exposed cabbage with brine, leaving 1″ of headspace at the top. If you are having troubles with the cabbage floating to the top, you can weigh it down with a glass weight, OR even wedge a piece of the cabbage core on top to hold it down. Any cabbage that is exposed will need to be thrown away, but you were going to toss the core anyway, so it’s no big loss.
Affix a lid to the jar (not too tight; fingertight only). Set aside in a room-temperature location, out of direct sunlight, for at least one week. If it’s tangy enough, move to the refrigerator for storage. If you like a bit more tang, simply allow to ferment for a bit longer.
Note: It takes as much effort to make one batch as it does to make multiples, so order extra cabbage and make a lot!
Also, although it only takes a week for the sauerkraut to be ready, it tastes better the longer that it ages.