Italian Sausage and Cabbage Stew

Italian Sausage and Cabbage Stew

1 medium head green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds

Clean everything: When fermenting anything, it’s best to give the good,
beneficial bacteria every chance of succeeding by starting off with as clean
an environment as possible. Make sure your mason jar and jelly jar are
washed and rinsed of all soap residue. You’ll be using your hands to massage
the salt into the cabbage, so give those a good wash, too.

Slice the cabbage: Discard the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut
the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Slice each quarter down its
length, making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons.

Combine the cabbage and salt: Transfer the cabbage to a big mixing bowl
and sprinkle the salt over top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by
massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. At first it might not
seem like enough salt, but gradually the cabbage will become watery and
limp — more like coleslaw than raw cabbage. This will take 5 to 10 minutes.
If you’d like to flavor your sauerkraut with caraway seeds, mix them in now.

Pack the cabbage into the jar: Grab handfuls of the cabbage and pack them
into the canning jar. If you have a canning funnel, this will make the job
easier. Every so often, tamp down the cabbage in the jar with your fist. Pour
any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar.

→ Optional: Place one of the larger outer leaves of the cabbage over the
surface of the sliced cabbage. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in
its liquid.

Weigh the cabbage down: Once all the cabbage is packed into the mason jar,
slip the smaller jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with
clean stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down, and
eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.

Cover the jar: Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a cloth and secure it
with a rubber band or twine. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but
prevents dust or insects from getting into the jar.

Press the cabbage every few hours: Over the next 24 hours, press down on
the cabbage every so often with the jelly jar. As the cabbage releases its
liquid, it will become more limp and compact and the liquid will rise over the
top of the cabbage.

Add extra liquid, if needed: If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above
the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to
submerge the cabbage.

Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days: As it’s fermenting, keep the
sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature —
ideally 65°F to 75°F. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is
floating above the liquid. Because this is a small batch of sauerkraut, it will
ferment more quickly than larger batches. Start tasting it after 3 days —
when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the
cap, and refrigerate. You can also allow the sauerkraut to continue
fermenting for 10 days or even longer. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for
when the sauerkraut is “done” — go by how it tastes. While it’s fermenting,
you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or
white scum. These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process.
The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before
refrigerating. If you see any mold, skim it off immediately and make sure
your cabbage is fully submerged; don’t eat moldy parts close to the surface,
but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.

Store sauerkraut for several months: This sauerkraut is a fermented product
so it will keep for at least two months and often longer if kept refrigerated.
As long as it still tastes and smells good to eat, it will be. If you like, you can
transfer the sauerkraut to a smaller container for longer storage.