What does one do with this much cabbage? Lacto-fermentation is the only answer. Luckily it is a good one because, beyond preserving the cabbage, it makes its nutrients more available and offers beneficial bacteria for your intestinal flora. Unfortunately the temperature is still a bit high to make sauerkraut. It would be ideal if it could ferment for 4 weeks between 60 and 65 degrees. We considered burying our imaginary jug of sauerkraut in the stream bed, but the temperature two inches below the water level was 66.9. If this were mid-September, we would likely have perfect conditions, but August is August, and August it is. We proceeded anyway.
After weighing and slicing, we added around 3 tablespoons of salt for every 5 pounds of cabbage. You are meant to bash away at all of this cabbage until it releases and becomes submerged by its own juices. We were without a proper utensil, but we made good use of the rolling pin, the potato masher, the metal tongs, and the knife sharpening steel.
Finally it became like soup.
There are fermenting crocks that are designed specifically for this purpose, and I hear they work perfectly. The crock itself has a large rim that holds water that the lid sits down into. The gases that escape during fermentation are able to move through this seal, while it remains impervious to air and pathogens from the outside. Ingenious... and expensive. The smallest one I could find was over $125. So we are winging it, again, like we did last year. Hopefully this experiment will turn out better than last year's. Last year's sauerkraut rotted because we didnt' have a good seal. When the gasses escaped there were air pockets left in their places and deterioration took hold. This year we filled a 2 gallon plastic bag with salted water (in case the bag breaks for some reason) and placed it on top of the cabbage, thereby keeping everything submerged. Garth found a lid for a five gallon bucket from his beer making days with a contraption on the top that lets gasses out without letting air in. The bucket is on the dirt floor of our basement at the bottom of the stairs. If all goes well, we'll be in sauerkraut for months. If it doesn't, we will have wasted a few good hours on a Sunday, and a season's worth of cabbage. I'm not sure where my bets lie, but I know where my hopes do.