This Cabbage Wants to be Pickled -- Part One

Monday, June 26, 2006
With World Cup going on, and another enthusiastic win for the Germans on Saturday, I've been having cravings for German food lately. Brats with mustard, schnitzel, spaetzle, potato pancakes... and Rotkohl (red cabbage).

I had three red cabbage seedlings that I planted in the garden last fall. The plants overwintered and two of them bolted earlier this spring; the third one developed a nice, plump, beautifully-colored cabbage.

Last year, we also grew one cabbage, but it was extremely hard and fibrous -- so much so that it wasn't very pleasant to eat fresh. To avoid a potentially similar situation this year, I long ago earmarked this year's cabbage for pickling. Besides, I absolutely love pickled red cabbage -- especially made mom's way with apples, raisins, and cloves.

So here I am trying to pickle a cabbage on my own, but I've never done this before. I found that Kitchen Gardeners International has instructions for making homemade sauerkraut. Their version calls for using only cabbage and salt (no vinegar), but I was not so keen on having a vat of cabbage fermenting in my kitchen (partly because we have limited space, and partly because... I don't want to have a vat of fermenting cabbage in my kitchen). This doesn't mean I wouldn't be up for trying it at some point, but I decided to go with this recipe instead.

Yesterday we harvested the cabbage -- just before we got totally drenched in a downpour of hard rain. No sense in trying to run the couple of blocks back to the apartment -- we got a thorough soaking -- and ended up just walking barefoot, like a couple of wet noodles, with our soggy cabbage, herbs, and a few heads of garlic in tow. This will definitely be a scene I recall when I sit down to evenually eat this pickled red cabbage. We were in good spirits about the rain, though, because it reminded us of the time we spent in Costa Rica... during the rainy season. Refreshing!

OK, so back to the cabbage. We shredded it and layered it in a bowl, pouring lots of salt on each layer. I weighted it down with a canister of flour, and now it has to sit there on the counter for 24 hours. The next step will be to add boiled vinegar and seal it in jars. We don't have a canning system and we don't do the whole hot water bath thing, so we're going to put the jars in the fridge. Stay tuned to see how it works out.

I'd love to hear from anyone else who's tried making pickled red cabbage. (Does anyone make their own?) And are we doing this right?


Blogger Stunned Donor said...

I've made fermented pickles in the basement and trust me, you don't want that going on in the kitchen.(besides, I doubt if you want to crank the AC down to 68 for one head of cabbage for weeks).

Your cabbage should turn out fine, I make sweet pickles in my fridge in a similar fashion.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Sigruns German Garden said...

Christa, thanks for this great Art-Photos!


7:02 AM  
Blogger R said...

i have never pickled things in my life, and hate saurkraut with a passion BUT i do can things without a canner. i admit, i follow nigella lawson's advice in her "how to be a domestic goddess" cookbook, and i do sterilize jars/lids in the dishwasher--but you need to pour the hot liquid contents in while the jar is still hot, leaving headspace, seal, and leave to cool. i have also been known to fill a jar 1/3 with water, and microwave for 10 mintues while sticking the lid in boiling water for the same amount of time.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Stunned Donor said...


I hope these awful storms haven't affected you and your garden.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

Thanks for thinking of us, Steven. We're fine, but I'll have to get out to check our plot this evening. I hope it isn't all washed away.

2:02 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]