For this recipe you’ll need:
Quarter the cabbage, then slice or shred thinly.
Put the cabbage in a large bowl and toss with salt. You can cover the cabbage and let it sit until the cabbage starts to break down and the juices are released, about 30 minutes. Or, you can choose the more laborious but quicker method and toss and squeeze the cabbage with your hands for about 5 to 6 minutes until it breaks down.
If you are adding the caraway seeds, toss them in at this time.
Pack the cabbage into the sanitized jar tightly. Use a spoon to smash it down. This squeezes the juices out of the cabbage and allows you to get 3 pounds of cabbage into the jar.
Ideally, you will now have enough cabbage juice to cover the cabbage. If not, you will need to make a brine to top it off. Use 4 ½ teaspoons of salt to 1 quart of spring water. Just dissolve the salt in the water and put the rest in the fridge to brine something else like a pork chop or a chicken breast! I often hear people cover the kraut with a towel while it is fermenting, but as far as I can tell, there is no reason for that unless you aren’t willing to burp the jar now and then. I simply put the lids on the jars and set them in a room temperature place to ferment.
The next day, make sure to burp the jar by simply taking the lid off. This is a good time to also confirm the cabbage is underneath the brine. Check the kraut every few days and remove any film, foam or funny stuff floating on the top. You will see bubbling, and that is simply the fermentation happening. When it stops, it's done. If you want to ferment it less, it will be lightly fermented after only a week but usually at 4 weeks, you would consider it completely fermented. Once it is done, pop it in the fridge. It will last for a very long time, or you can can it.
One of the reasons to make your own sauerkraut is so that it doesn’t have to be cooked, like it is in the can. So canning could pose a problem if you follow most directions for it which is to process the quart jars in boiling water for 25 minutes or 20 for pint jars. So if you want cooked sauerkraut, follow those rules. However, if you want more of a fresh sauerkraut then put your filled jars in your water bath canner and bring just to a simmer, remove from water, bring to room temperature and store in a cool dark place. These should keep for a year, just make sure to date the jars!
Use the freshest cabbage available. You can tell a head of cabbage is fresh in part by its weight. If it is very heavy and feels solid, that is the best indicator. It means the cabbage is full of moisture, and moisture is what you need in your sauerkraut.
A large jar is easy to use for this recipe because it's easy to sanitize, and you don’t have to figure out how to weight the kraut down. Wash the jar and lid, rinse them well and put them in a 200-degree oven for 30 minutes. This method works especially well if you are doing multiple batches because the jars can stay in the oven until you are ready to use them.