(makes 1 gallon)
2 large heads of cabbage
4 tbsp sea salt
optional kraut spices : caraway, juniper berry, mustard seed, coriander (~ 4 tbsp total)
Peel off two outer layers of cabbage leaves and save. Cut out and finely chop the core. Chop or shred cabbage leaves. Mix cabbage with sea salt in a large bowl. Squeeze the cabbage and salt together with your hands, kneading thoroughly until it releases its juice. Let it sit out for an hour to draw out more liquid. Pack the kraut tightly into a clean one-gallon vessel using your fist or a wooden tamper. Lay the two reserved whole cabbage leaves on top of the kraut and press down to submerge in the liquid. All the kraut and the whole cabbage leaves should be below the liquid. If there is not enough liquid, add just enough additional water to submerge the cabbage.
Use a ceramic weight (or other creative weight) if necessary to keep vegetables submerged. Leave about an inch of headspace from the top of the vessel. As the kraut ferments, it naturally produces carbon dioxide, which will cause everything to expand.
Cover jar loosely with a lid. If you are using an airlock lid, such as the Preserved airlock lid, secure lid tightly on the jar. Let ferment in a dark spot (out of direct sunlight) at room temperature for a minimum of 5 days. Kraut can ferment for up to 30 days for a more complex and sour flavor. Taste the kraut every couple of days for your desired flavor. Transfer into the refrigerator to store for 6-12 months.
The cabbage leaves on top of the kraut provide an extra layer of protection against surface mold. Don't stress about mold! Simply discard the outer leaves if mold appears.
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