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Pickled Red Cabbage

by . Featured in COOK EAT REPEAT
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Introduction

Soft, soused, slow-braised red cabbage has been part of my Christmas table forever. I will never forsake it (and do check out the tangy version with cranberries) but I have come to the conclusion that this pickle is now every bit as essential to my season’s eatings. It’s barely any work to make and is so much better than the pickled red cabbage that you buy from a shop.

I do think it makes a difference using the raw, unfiltered vinegar, which is labelled rather tautologically ‘apple cider vinegar’, but if all you have is regular cider vinegar, go ahead; indeed, any vinegar would work here. I pair the cider vinegar with actual cider but should you not want to use cider itself, then replace it with apple juice.

This doesn’t make a huge amount, but it is a condiment rather than a vegetable accompaniment, and is as wonderful with the Norwegian Roast Pork Ribs as it is with cheese and cold cuts, or, indeed, any leftovers that might need a bit of a zhuzh. Anyway, I can’t help thinking that you will soon find yourself making up batches of this ludicrously purple pickle in regular rotation.

You need to make this 2 days (or up to 3 weeks) before you eat it.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Soft, soused, slow-braised red cabbage has been part of my Christmas table forever. I will never forsake it (and do check out the tangy version with cranberries) but I have come to the conclusion that this pickle is now every bit as essential to my season’s eatings. It’s barely any work to make and is so much better than the pickled red cabbage that you buy from a shop.

I do think it makes a difference using the raw, unfiltered vinegar, which is labelled rather tautologically ‘apple cider vinegar’, but if all you have is regular cider vinegar, go ahead; indeed, any vinegar would work here. I pair the cider vinegar with actual cider but should you not want to use cider itself, then replace it with apple juice.

This doesn’t make a huge amount, but it is a condiment rather than a vegetable accompaniment, and is as wonderful with the Norwegian Roast Pork Ribs as it is with cheese and cold cuts, or, indeed, any leftovers that might need a bit of a zhuzh. Anyway, I can’t help thinking that you will soon find yourself making up batches of this ludicrously purple pickle in regular rotation.

You need to make this 2 days (or up to 3 weeks) before you eat it.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Pickled Red Cabbage
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Makes: 1 x 750ml / 3 cup jar

Metric Cups
  • 500 grams red cabbage
  • 35 grams fine sea salt
  • 200 millilitres medium dry cider (or apple juice)
  • 400 millilitres raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 25 grams fresh ginger
  • 5½ cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 4½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons medium dry hard cider (or apple juice)
  • 1⅔ cups raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1½ inches fresh gingerroot

Method

  1. Sterilise a 750ml / 3 cup (although a 1 litre / 1 quart one will be fine) preserving jar. I consider a jar sterilised if it’s come straight out of the dishwasher and not so much as a finger has touched the inside of it. But you can just hand wash the jar in soapy liquid, rinse it well, and dry it in a 140°C/120°C Fan/275°F oven. Leave to cool before filling.
  2. Remove the core, then slice the red cabbage finely and put into a colander. Sprinkle over the salt and gently toss the cabbage to get it all coated, then leave over a bowl for 3 hours. Do not be tempted to leave out this step. It makes all the difference.
  3. Make the pickling liquid as soon as the cabbage is in the colander. Put the cider and vinegar into a saucepan, and add the sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries, mustard seeds and thyme.
  4. Peel both the garlic and ginger, cut them into thinnish slices, and add them to the saucepan. Give everything a good stir, bring gently to the boil, then turn up the heat, and let it bubble away for 2 minutes, switch the heat off and leave everything in the pan to cool.
  5. When the cabbage has had its 3 hours, get out a large chopping board and lay a tea towel you don’t mind staining on top of it. Take the colander to the sink and rinse the cabbage really well under the cold tap. Squeeze as much water as you can out of it, then spread it out on the tea towel and wrap it and pat it dry.
  6. Put the cabbage into your sterilised jar, pushing it down so that it is tightly packed. Strain the pickling liquid into a jug, using a fine-mesh sieve so nothing drops through, and pour over the cabbage, then press down on the cabbage to submerge it all.
  7. Put it into the fridge and leave for at least 2 days before eating it. In theory, it will keep happily for 3 weeks, but it is unlikely that you will have any left by then. Always remember to take it out of the fridge in time to get the chill off it before eating.
  1. Sterilise a 750ml / 3 cup (although a 1 litre / 1 quart one will be fine) preserving jar. I consider a jar sterilised if it’s come straight out of the dishwasher and not so much as a finger has touched the inside of it. But you can just hand wash the jar in soapy liquid, rinse it well, and dry it in a 140°C/120°C Fan/275°F oven. Leave to cool before filling.
  2. Remove the core, then slice the red cabbage finely and put into a colander. Sprinkle over the salt and gently toss the cabbage to get it all coated, then leave over a bowl for 3 hours. Do not be tempted to leave out this step. It makes all the difference.
  3. Make the pickling liquid as soon as the cabbage is in the colander. Put the cider and vinegar into a saucepan, and add the sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries, mustard seeds and thyme.
  4. Peel both the garlic and ginger, cut them into thinnish slices, and add them to the saucepan. Give everything a good stir, bring gently to the boil, then turn up the heat, and let it bubble away for 2 minutes, switch the heat off and leave everything in the pan to cool.
  5. When the cabbage has had its 3 hours, get out a large chopping board and lay a tea towel you don’t mind staining on top of it. Take the colander to the sink and rinse the cabbage really well under the cold tap. Squeeze as much water as you can out of it, then spread it out on the tea towel and wrap it and pat it dry.
  6. Put the cabbage into your sterilised jar, pushing it down so that it is tightly packed. Strain the pickling liquid into a jug, using a fine-mesh sieve so nothing drops through, and pour over the cabbage, then press down on the cabbage to submerge it all.
  7. Put it into the fridge and leave for at least 2 days before eating it. In theory, it will keep happily for 3 weeks, but it is unlikely that you will have any left by then. Always remember to take it out of the fridge in time to get the chill off it before eating.

Additional Information

STORE:
Seal in sterilised jar and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

STORE:
Seal in sterilised jar and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

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