Recipe: Pickled Cabbage

Pickled Cabbage
In my canning adventures, I have made a lot of wonderful discoveries. My new-found devotion to fresh salsa, the glory of canned cherries, the miracle of having homemade pasta sauce at my fingertips any night of the week. But right up there in my list of wonderful things are pickled vegetables beyond the regular old cucumbers we think of when we think ‘pickles.’ I have a jar of pickled carrots always open in my fridge and ready for snacking when I need a little something. They’re perfect for those times you open the refrigerator and just want ready to eat food to appear miraculously in front of you. Pickled vegetables are that food.

With the bounty that Atti’s teacher brought over to us, I decided to try my hand at pickled cabbage. There are as many recipes for pickling as there are homecanners who do it, but I wanted mine to be a bit influenced by Asian flavors, like the delicious pickled vegetables I eat with my Thai food. But I also eat pickled vegetables from my Salvadorian place, so you could change up the spices for a Latin influence, as long as you keep the vinegar and salt plentiful enough to make it safe for canning. If you’re not planning on canning these, you can add as little vinegar and salt as you like.

Tresa’s Pickled Cabbage
10 lbs cabbage
2 red peppers
2 onions
2 lbs carrots
1/4 c salt
2 1/2 C sugar
3 C rice vinegar
3 C white vinegar
3 C water
1 T coriander seed
1 T peppercorns
5 dried chili peppers
2 inches of ginger
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed

Core and shred the cabbage, then layer in a large bowl with salt and let it sit overnight. It will wilt down to about half the size. Come back the next day and drain the cabbage in a colander, rinsing very thoroughly to get enough salt off so that it’s edible. This may take you a while. Don’t shortcut this step. Wilting the cabbage is what will allow it to soak up the brine, and not rinsing enough will ruin the taste.

Chop up the rest of the vegetables into bite size pieces.

Make up a spicebag using cheesecloth or muslin and fill it with all the spices. In a large pot add all the liquid, the sugar, and the spicebag and boil together until the sugar is dissolved and the spices have had a chance to steep. For great ginger flavor make sure you peel it and cut it into smaller pieces.

If you’re canning these, prepare your jars by boiling them in the hot water until warm. Fill the jars with a mix of the vegetables, and then top off with the brine leaving 1/2″ of headspace. Process in a hot water bath for ten minutes.

If you’re not canning these, you could put the vegetables directly into the brine and boil for ten minutes or until the vegetables just begin to soften but still have their crunch. Canning will make them better, and they’ll be the best after about a week, but they’ll still be tasty no matter which method you choose.