Friday, October 30, 2009

Pickled Red Cabbage

Sometimes I wonder why pickled (braised?) red cabbage isn't more popular here in the States. I'll see it occasionally, like when I visit Ikea, but otherwise it's not something I run across very often. Sauerkraut, on the other hand, is more commonplace. Strange. I prefer pickled red cabbage over sauerkraut any day.

Around this time of year we eat a lot of this zingy stuff. It goes perfectly with hearty, cold weather foods, like pork roast or schnitzel. There's no shame in buying it, and I will do that occasionally (like when I visit Ikea ☺). However it's so much better when you make it yourself. For the most basic version, you only need red cabbage, sugar and vinegar, but there are so many ways to spruce it up (see the tips below).

Method: Cut out and discard the core from 1 small (or 1/2 to 2/3 of a large head) red cabbage and thinly slice the remainder. Do it as finely as you like; it's a matter of personal preference. In a large non-reactive pot over medium heat, add roughly an equal volume of granulated sugar and vinegar. For a small head of cabbage, that's about a 1/2 to 1 cup of each. Once the sugar dissolves, add the cabbage and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer until it reaches the desired texture, about 45 minutes to an hour. About 20 minutes through the cooking process, taste it. Then you'll know whether you need to add more vinegar or sugar or maybe even a little water if it's too acidic. Store refrigerated in a glass or plastic container, being sure to keep the cabbage submerged in the liquid. I've kept it for up to 2 weeks (we usually finish it off in that time).

Tips: It's okay to start out with less sugar. You can always add more as it's cooking if it doesn't taste balanced. I use white vinegar and a little apple juice (or lingonberry concentrate, also available at Ikea ☺). You can use a mixture of white and apple cider vinegar if you like. A little balsamic would probably work. I also throw in a cinnamon stick or two, a few cloves and a dash of salt. I've seen an old Danish recipe that recommends cumin seed. Fennel seed and allspice berries are an option. Some people add red wine. Some add shredded apple. Clearly this can be taken in a lot of different directions.

Wondering what to eat with pickled red cabbage? As you can see in the photo above, it goes great with
Danish-style pate and Danish rye bread (guess where it's available ☺). It also goes well with Swedish or Danish meatballs, pork roast, bratwurst, roasted duck or confit, just to name a few. You could even serve it instead of cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving (blasphemy, I know!)

I'm submitting this post to
Weekend Wokking, which is being hosted by Erbe in Cucina. The theme ingredient is cabbage. If you've got a cabbage recipe you're dying to share, send your submissions to scrivi(at)ilmeglioincucina(dot)it by 11:59 Nov 1st.


Roving Lemon said...

I've never tried this, but you've convinced me--now I just have to find out if red cabbage is available in Australia at this time of year!

pam said...

I adore pickled red cabbage. I always buy those jars of it, but you have inspired me to make my own.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I love all pickled things so I'd like this. It's nice to see you posting more Scandinavian recipes.

dp said...

roving lemon, happy hunting!

Pam, I like the convenience of cracking open a jar, but DIY tastes better and has a better texture. It's worth it for special occasions, for sure.

WC, there may be more Scandinavian recipes to come. There's definitely a lot of warming, comforting food that's perfect for this time of year.

Marisa said...

What a brilliant red looking cabbage dish! So festive.

Graziana said...

I love red cabbage! Thank you for sharing this recipe with Weekend Wokking.

Manggy said...

I ate something similar, but it was in a Polish cafeteria. I don't even know if it was red cabbage, ha ha ha! :) (not very commonly used here.) I can't remember if it was slightly sweet, but I love the idea of it :)

Word verification: expert. Hey! An actual word!

Mary Bergfeld said...

This will come as no surprise, but I love pickled red cabbage. I don't think its popular here because most commercial versions are, in my opinion, way too sweet and non-pickly. I love the color that it adds to the sometimes drab tones of German and Scandinavian cooking. I'll try this really soon.

dp said...

Marisa, it is a festive color, isn't it? Maybe that's why I always it associate it with the holidays.

Graziana, I think it's more commonly enjoyed in Europe. Still wondering why it hasn't caught on here in the states. And thanks for hosting Weekend Wokking. It was a great roundup!

Manggy, I wouldn't imagine this is common over where you are. When I first introduced my mom to it, she thought it was strange.

Mary, I agree. Most commercial versions aren't very good and the cabbage is a bit too mushy for my taste. So much better when you make it yourself because you can control the taste and texture.

Lea Ann said...

I'm new to your blog and am enjoying reading your posts. I agree about red cabbage. I make a mean Rode Kool that is absolutely delicious.