When making sauerkraut, use firm, dense heads of cabbage with tightly packed leaves. A Japanese-style mandoline works well for shredding the cabbage.
3 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
1. Combine shredded cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using a potato masher or a wooden spoon, pound cabbage for 10 minutes to bruise it and extract juices. Working in batches, transfer the cabbage and juices to a 1-gallon jar, pressing each layer down with the masher before adding the next batch. Press a small plate into the jar onto the surface of the cabbage to weight it down. Cover jar with 4 layers of cheesecloth secured with kitchen twine.
2. Let cabbage sit and ferment at room temperature, skimming any white froth from the surface of the liquid every other day and discarding portions of the cabbage that turn brown, for up to 3 weeks before transferring it to two 1-qt. jars and refrigerating. The flavor of the sauerkraut will deepen as it sits. Use it after about 10 days for a brighter new sauerkraut flavor or after a couple of months for a stronger classic sauerkraut flavor. Sauerkraut will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
MAKES 8 CUPS