Remove the cabbage core and discard. Slice the cabbage into 1 to 2-inch pieces; you should have approximately 12 cups. Place in a large pot along with the bacon and water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-low heat and then reduce the heat to a medium-low. Add the pepper and salt to the pot, cover with a lid, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before serving, stir in the butter.