German Sweet and Sour Cabbage

I’ve been making this cabbage dish for years. It’s a perfect fall/winter dish, and I think it pairs especially well with pork. A friend gave me a large head of red cabbage, picked fresh from the garden, and I immediately decided what was for dinner. It’s an easy chop, chop, all in one pot dish, that makes your kitchen smell wonderful.

People usually think of the more common green cabbage, and dishes like boiled dinner, cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, and, of course, coleslaw. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are all vegetable cousins. Cabbage was considered a table luxury in the Roman Empire, and European sailors ate cabbage on long voyages to prevent scurvy. Apparently they knew it was high in Vitamin C and K, and red cabbage contains 10X more vitamins and cancer fighting flavonoids than it’s green cousin. Love when something that tastes this good is also good for us.

The ingredients are very basic, things you probably have on hand. If you see a nice head of red cabbage in the grocery or farm market I encourage you to try this. Aunt Nellie sells jars of sweet and sour cabbage in the vegetable aisle of the grocery, but homemade is so much better! And more economical. I’m on a mission to find a recipe for canning this.


1 medium head of red cabbage, cored and sliced

1 medium sweet red onion sliced

2 large apples peeled, cored, and sliced

1 T butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups water

2 bay leaves

3-4 whole allspice

3-4 whole cloves

7-10 pepper corns

2 T of cornstarch for finishing

Get out a large Dutch oven or heavy kettle. Remove outside leaves, cut, core, and slice the cabbage.

Slice the red onion and peel, core, and slice the apples. I used Granny Smith but any good, firm apple will do.

Put your cabbage, onion, and apple in the Dutch oven. Add the sugar, butter, cider vinegar, water, and spices. Everything but the cornstarch goes into the pot.

Your kettle will be very full and it may be difficult to stir. Bring the pot to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep the cover on your pot. Simmer for one hour and forty minutes. Occasionally remove the lid and stir the cabbage. The cabbage cooks down making it easier to stir.

Once the cabbage has finished cooking combine 2 T corn cornstarch with a little cold water. Whisk together and add to the cabbage. Simmer until the juices have thickened.

I served up the cabbage as a side with sliced pork loin and corn on the cob.


NOTE: This sweet and sour cabbage is good hot, at room temperature, or even cold.

Red cabbage is great combined with green cabbage for coleslaw or just sautéed in butter until tender and seasoned with a little vinegar. Cabbage is plentiful this time of year. I’ll be back to share if I come across instructions for canning this dish!