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Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

Servings: 6 to 8 cups

Ready time: 3 to 6 days

Ingredients

1 large red cabbage (about 4 lb)

3 tbsp sea salt

2 tsp celery seeds or caraway seeds

Distilled or purified water as needed

Method

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, discard them and rinse the head well. Cut cabbage into wedges and remove the core. Shred the wedges using a knife or a food processor fitted with a shredding or grating attachment.

Pack a 12-cup food-grade plastic or earthenware container with a layer of shredded cabbage. Sprinkle with salt and celery or caraway seeds. Add more cabbage and another sprinkling of salt and seasoning. Repeat until all the cabbage and salt is used up.

With clean hands (or wearing gloves), work salt into the cabbage with a kneading-type motion to start the fermentation process. Press the cabbage down into the container with your palm or fist, compressing it as much as possible. Cover the cabbage with a small plate or shallow bowl that fits inside (rather than overtop) your container, weigh it down with heavy cans and set aside on the countertop for a few hours.

Check the cabbage periodically, pushing down on the plate to encourage the release of water. If, after about 12 hours, the amount of liquid the cabbage has produced isn’t high enough to cover the vegetable, make extra brine (using 2 tsp salt for every cup water) and pour it overtop the fermenting vegetable. Again, push the solids down to submerge them in the liquid and replace the plate and weights.

Leave the cabbage on the countertop and taste it regularly over the next few days, skimming off any scum that has formed on the top. After 3 days, the sauerkraut will taste pleasantly sour. For a bolder flavour, let it ferment a few days longer.

Once it reaches the desired piquancy and texture, pack into jars, pour brine overtop and refrigerate.

It can be eaten right away or will keep in the fridge for 4 to 6 weeks.

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