12 pounds cabbage (about 6 heads)
1/8 cup salt (pickling, not iodized), or to taste
4 teaspoons sugar, optional (see note)
Remove outer leaves of cabbage heads, cut into halves or quarters, remove core. Shred cabbage with knife.
In a plastic or glass container, mix cabbage with the salt and sugar. mix well and let stand until the cabbage wilts and makes its own juice. Hold cabbage down (under its juices) with a plate or rock, or fill a strong plastic bag with several inches of water, seal and place on top of cabbage. Let it ferment for several days to several weeks; this will vary with the temperature — it takes longer in cold temperatures than hot. Sample periodically.
The kraut can be eaten right out of the crock, but it will not keep too long. It can be put into a bottle and placed in the refrigerator for quite some time. Or, to keep it longer, heat kraut to simmering — do not boil. Pack warmed kraut in bottles, making sure that juice covers the top. Seal. Put jars in hot water bath and bring to a boil. Cook 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts. Cool and store in cool, dark place.
Instead of canning the kraut, you can also freeze it in plastic bags. Do not heat, just pack directly from crock.
Note: Sugar does not have to be added, but it does give a sweet edge to balance the tangy nature of the kraut.
Yields about 4 1/2 quarts.
From Theda Sueltenfuss