How to prep the cabbage.
Take the outer leaves off.
Rinse under the faucet.
Cut the cabbage up to a semi cole slaw consistency. Larger of smaller depending on your preference. Smaller pieces will encourage the next process. A food processor works and is easier. The bacteria on the cabbage will initiate the fermentation.
Put a layer of cabbage in your fermenting container. I use food grade plastic such as cookie recipes mix come in. This will not hold five lbs however. Add salt. Proportion the salt if you make a smaller batch. I prefer to mix the salt with a couple of ounces of water to make a kind of slurry. This encourages the fluid to come out of the cabbage when you hammer it. Also salt in water increases the surface area of the salt in contact with the cabbage.
Hammer the cabbage. A up and down motion is the correct way. I use a five hundred cc beer bottle or wine bottle of 750 cc. As you hammer it it will start to sound mushy and you will hear sucking sounds as your remove your kraut hammer. You will see some liquid in the bottom. At his point I add more cabbage and use a little more salt water. ( I did not use all of it initially).
At one point it will start to have fluid come up to the top of the cabbage. After putting all the cabbage you want into your fermenter ...put a weight such as a small inverted plate on top the cabbage. Weigh it down with some thing. Some use a plastic bag with brine in it. Water and salt.
Salt kills bad bacteria. Only bad ( sickening ) bacteria can grow in air. So the cabbage has to be under water at all times. Any that is not will "rot" in air. If mold grows on top, do not be discouraged simply remove it and eat the kraut underneigth. If you do not have enough fluid to cover the kraut, add water. About a inch over the top of the kraut is about right.
It takes about three weeks to make kraut. The longer you let it go the more sour it will become. With a starter from a previous batch maybe a week or ten days. I refrigerate it.
The fermenter must be sealed to keep out bugs and fruit flies. They love it and will grow additions to your kraut if you do not seal it. By the same token you must not seal it so well pressure can not escape. This is a fermenting process and carbon dioxide will build up. Many use a jar with a threaded lid that they crack to relieve pressure a couple of times a day. Others use a paper towel or tea towel. A rubber band to keep bugs out is a good idea. The bugs are small and will find any opening.
A comment and fyi....our bodies contain many cells. There are ten times more bacteria in our bodies than there are cells of us. Those bacteria are friendly or hostile. However the bacteria are very small so total weigh of those bacteria would be on the order of two to four lbs. I prefer friendly bacteria as they improve my immune function and in general make this world a better place to be.
Just keep in mind, we are essentially hotels for bacteria. It is your choice if you want gang bangers or nice families to reside there.
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