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Remove the outer leaves and any undesirable portions from firm, mature heads of cabbage; wash and drain. Cut into halves or quarters; remove the core. Use a shredder or sharp knife to cut the cabbage into thin shreds about the thickness of a dime. In a large container, thoroughly mix 2 T. salt with 5 lbs shredded cabbage. Let the salted cabbage stand for several minutes to wilt slightly; this allows packing without excessive breaking or bruising of the shreds. Pack the salted cabbage firmly and evenly into a large clean crock or jar. Using a wooden spoon or tamper or the hands, press down firmly until the juice comes to the surface. Repeat the shredding, salting and packing of cabbage until the crock is filled to within 3 or 4 inches of the top. Cover cabbage with a clean, thin, white cloth (such as muslin) and tuck the edges down against the inside of the container. Cover with a plate or round paraffined board that just fits inside the container so that the cabbage is not exposed to the air. Put a weight on top of the cover so the brine comes to the cover but not over it. A glass jar filled with water makes a good weight. Another method of covering cabbage during fermentation consists of placing a plastic bag filled with brine on top of the fermenting cabbage. The brine filled bag seals the surface from exposure to air, and prevents the growth of film, yeast or molds. It also serves as a weight. For extra protection, the bag with the water in it can be placed inside another plastic bag. The brine should be made of 1 1/2 T per quart water. Any bag used should be of heavy weight, watertight plastic and intended for use with foods. The amount of brine in the plastic bag can be adjusted to give just enough pressure to keep the fermented cabbage covered with brine. Formation of gas bubbles indicates fermentation is taking place. A room temperature of 68-72 F is best for fermenting cabbage. Fermentation is usually completed in 5 to 6 weeks. TO STORE: Heat sauerkraut to simmering (185-210 F). Do not boil. Pack hot into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust caps. Process pints 15 minutes and quarts 20 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield: about 18 quarts. Notes: Use pure granulated or pickling salt. Un-iodized salt can be used, but additives in the salt that prevent caking may make the brine cloudy. IODIZED TABLE SALT SHOULD NOT BE USED!
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