Every time I make another batch of homemade sauerkraut, I feel like a superstar. I get lots of comments on my facebook page when I post the pictures, so why not share the process with everyone!
I bought 2 medium sized heads of cabbage (about 5 1/3 pounds). I could have used 6 pounds to fill 3 - 1 quart jars and I will remember that next time.
Wash your quart jars and lids in very hot water, let air dry.
Cut the heads of cabbage into quarters with a very sharp knife. Remove the core. Slice all the cabbage as thick or thin as you like it. I like to cut mine as if I was making cole slaw. Divide the cabbage into two large glass bowls and sprinkle 2 teaspoons sea salt over each of them. Meanwhile dissolve 1 teaspoon of sea salt into about a cup of boiling water. Work the salt into the shredded cabbage (I use my hands to make sure the cabbage is well mixed). I started with refrigerated cabbage, so I mixed it around a few times while it returned to room temperature before I started packing the jars.
Start by pouring a little of the salted water into the bottom of each jar. This will insure that the cabbage does not have any large air pockets that could cause mold. Pack the cabbage tightly into the jar as you add a little at a time until the jar is almost full. The cabbage should be fully submerged. There will be a little liquid in the bottom of your bowl, pour that in the jar too.
Here is where you use the green leaves you saved when you started the process. Fold a leaf so that it is almost too large for the jar. Press it down over the cabbage until it is partially covered with the liquid. That will keep the cabbage where it belongs during the fermentation process, always covered with liquid.
Make sure you place the jars in a container that will catch overflow in case the liquid seeps out of the jar, cover the whole thing with a towel and put it in a dark place. I put mine in the cabinet where all my large serving platters and bowls are stored, since that one is rarely opened.
In cooler weather, unscrew the lid to vent the sauerkraut every 5 days. Taste if you wish at this time, then replace the lid. When it is warmer, I would suggest venting every 3 to 5 days.
You personal taste and the climate in your home will determine the length of the process.
Properly prepared, sauerkraut should keep in your refrigerator up to 6 months.
There are lots of resources on the internet for fermenting vegetables of all kinds... and there are some safety concerns with regard to mold, etc. I have not had a problem with mold, and I think that is because I make the sauerkraut in a closed jar, rather than the old fashioned way in an open crock.