3 tablespoons kosher salt, such as Diamond Crystal
1 tablespoon juniper berries, optional
two wide-mouth quart jars
Remove any damaged or discolored leaves from the cabbage. With a large chef's knife, cut the cabbages lengthwise into quarters. Cut out the cores, and shred the cabbage into thin ribbons about 1/8-inch thick; no need to be too precise.
Transfer the shredded cabbage to a large bowl or stockpot and toss with the salt and juniper berries, if using. With clean hands, knead the salt into the cabbage for a minute or two, alternatively tossing and squeezing firmly. Weight the cabbage with a plate and leave it for 4 hours to overnight, returning a few times for more kneading.
When the cabbage has collapsed into a sodden mass and considerable liquid is pooled in the bottom of the bowl, taste and adjust the salt; you want the cabbage just shy of seawater-salty. Tightly pack the cabbage and its brine into two wide-mouth quart jars. Use two cylindrical glasses just smaller than the mouths of the quart jars to firmly tamp down the cabbage-this removes air pockets, draws out more liquid, and raises the brine level. At this point, with the glasses set inside the quart jars, the cabbage should be fully submerged and there should be 1 to 2 inches of headroom separating the brine from the rims of the jars. (In the unlikely event the cabbage has not produced enough brine, dissolve 1 tablespoon salt in 1 cup filtered water and add enough of this to submerge the cabbage.)
Store at cool room temperature, away from heat sources and direct sunlight, for 2 to 4 weeks (at 70 to 75 degrees F) or 4 to 6 weeks (at 60 to 65 degrees F). Check the brine level every few days. It will rise during the bubbly early stages of fermentation, then fall as the brine gets reabsorbed by the cabbage. Carefully press on the glasses to resubmerge the cabbage as needed. If more weight is required to keep the cabbage under brine, fill the glasses with water and reinsert them into the quart jars.
After 2 weeks, start tasting the sauerkraut. When it has soured to your liking (if you love pungent flavors, try letting it go for as long as 6 to 8 weeks), remove the glasses from the jars, screw lids on and transfer the finished sauerkraut to the refrigerator. It will keep there for months.
Copyright 2014 Cooking Channel, LLC. All rights reserved.