As a food preservation technique, fermentation is not an exact science — unlike canning, which requires specific techniques for safety reasons. The proportions in these sauerkraut recipes can be adjusted to taste, including the amount of salt. Salt is a preservative, so using more of it creates a crunchier, longer-lasting sauerkraut. Less salt produces a softer sauerkraut that may not keep as long. Many recipes call for 3 tablespoons salt for every 5 pounds of cabbage, but this can be reduced; no-salt sauerkraut is theoretically possible. We just wouldn’t recommend it.
2 large heads of cabbage (about 5 pounds)
2 to 3 tbsp noniodized salt
Grate 1 cabbage and place in a crock or plastic bucket. Sprinkle half the salt over the cabbage. Grate the second cabbage, then add it to the crock along with the rest of the salt. Crush the mixture with your hands until liquid comes out of the cabbage freely. Place a plate on top of the cabbage, then a weight on top of the plate. Cover the container and check after 2 days. Scoop the scum off the top, repack and check every 3 days. After 2 weeks, sample the kraut to see if it tastes ready to eat. The flavor will continue to mature for the next several weeks. Canning or refrigerating the sauerkraut will extend its shelf life. Yields about 2 quarts.
Variations on the Theme
Follow the above recipe, adding 5 cloves of chopped garlic and 2 sliced onions when you add the salt.
Follow the above recipe, adding 3 sliced poblano peppers when you add the salt. Leave the seeds in the sliced peppers for added heat!
Follow the above recipe, but also chop 5 to 10 Brussels sprouts and thoroughly mix into the cabbage when you add the salt.