1. Rinse cabbage, remove stem, and save two large outer leaves. Shred cabbage into thin strips, and finely chop the core.

  2. Place cabbage in a large mixing bowl and add salt. Massage the cabbage by squeezing and mixing for 5 to 10 minutes, until the cabbage softens and releases its stored water. This water, combined with the salt, will create the brine. Add caraway or garlic, if using.

  3. Pack cabbage equally into two quart-sized wide-mouth Mason jars, packing down as you go. Continue until all of the cabbage is used, leaving about one inch of headspace.

    Packing tightly in the jar removes oxygen and pushes the brine to the top, creating a barrier between the cabbage and the air. This will promote fermentation and inhibit mold or other unwanted microbes.

  4. Place the saved cabbage leaves on top of the packed kraut followed by a weight, such as a clean half-pint Mason jar filled with water or a glass or ceramic fermentation weight (such as “Pickle Pebbles”), to help keep it below the brine.

    Keeping the cabbage submerged throughout fermentation will keep out oxygen, preventing surface mold or yeast from forming. 

  5. Place the jars in a large dish to catch any overflow. If using Mason jar weights, cover with a clean kitchen towel. If using fermentation weights, place a BPA-free plastic lid on the jar, not too tightly, as pressure can build up from carbon dioxide created by the bacteria. “Burp” the jar every few days, unscrewing and then putting the lid back on to release pressure.

  6. Let ferment at room temperature for 5 to 21 days, depending on taste preference. For Laura, 2 weeks at room temperature is the sweet spot for flavor and texture.

    Keep in mind that fermentation will go faster if your kitchen is warmer and slower if it is cooler. If you are new to making sauerkraut, taste it every few days to observe changes and find when it best suits your taste. 

  7. Check on your kraut regularly for adequate brine submersion and any surface mold.

    If mold or “off” odors form, discard and start a new batch. Trust your senses when it comes to determining if your kraut is good to go.

  8. When your kraut is fermented to your liking, remove weight, replace plastic lid and transfer to the fridge, where it will keep for about a year. Be sure to label with contents and the date to help keep track of your fermenting projects.

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A Mason jar of sauerkraut seems to float on a black background.