October 21, 2012

German sweet and sour red cabbage

My husband and I both have a fair amount of German heritage, but neither of us grew up eating a lot of traditional cuisine. We both really love German food though, so I'm on a mission to learn how to cook more of it. Recently, we had some people over for an Oktoberfest dinner. I was looking all over the web for a recipe to make traditional German cabbage that was similar to one that we enjoy at our favorite German/Polish restaurant. I found this recipe for German red cabbage and went from there. I adjusted some of the ingredients to taste and it really probably varies depending on how large your head of cabbage is. Lucky for us, there was one lone red cabbage at the farmers' market that morning - I scooped it right up and took it home to make this tasty side dish.

The cabbage is best if you make it a few hours, or even a day ahead of time and then reheat it. This way, all of the flavors will penetrate the cabbage even more. We served this with some fresh German brats from a local European sausage shop, some homemade potato and cheddar pierogi, sauteed onions, and, of course, some great fall beers. While the whole meal was delicious, the cabbage was an unexpected hit with everyone. Plus, the color was really pretty and it added a punch of color to each plate. This recipe will serve six to eight people as a side dish. 

German sweet and sour red cabbage
1 medium head red cabbage, cored and shredded
1 large apple, cored and shredded or grated
1/2 cup water
1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

Combine all ingredients except lemon juice in a large pot. I recommend starting with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of vinegar. Stir the pot well and taste the liquid. Then adjust those two to get the right amount for you. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, but still has a little bite, about 25-30 minutes. 

Stir in the lemon juice. Remove the cabbage using tongs and transfer to a large serving bowl, leaving the liquid in the cooking pot. Enjoy!

What was I cooking one year ago?: ginger-vanilla pear sauce
Two years ago?: pear, blue cheese, and arugula stuffed chicken


  1. What a perfect accompaniment to sausages and potato salad! Yum.

  2. I'm really enjoying the sweet and soured quality to this..and the apple is a beautiful touch (and festive, too)!

  3. This is my type of healthy and delightful side dish.
    I love red cabbage while my husband dislikes it to the core.

  4. I need to try this! I am getting more into European foods and I think I'd really enjoy these flavors.

  5. My husband would love this! He bought the biggest head of cabbage I've ever seen at the farmers market so I am looking for ways to use it up. Lovely and healthy!

  6. Looks delicious, especially the color.

  7. Last year, we hosted a German student at home, and he made us one of these! Thanks for sharing your recipe, because he didn't leave us one:) He did leave us with good memories of a nice red cabbage salad, though!

  8. I've never been overly enthused with red cabbage...although this preparation sounds awesome! The perfect thing to get my taste buds going.

  9. I lived in Germany for a little bit and remember eating a lot of cabbage that looked like this - very tasty memories!

  10. I agree with you about the flavor improving if made a day ahead. Adding clove sounds great.


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