Breaking down the basics of how to add delicious and tangy crunch to your life with this guide to easy Pickled Red Cabbage!
We all have someone in our life that won’t go near a pickle. In my life, that person is me. Something about the flavor of them just does not do it for me. So I assumed all pickled things were the worst. That is until I moved to San Antonio for a while and fell in love with the pickled cabbages found on some of the best tacos in town.
I didn’t realize how much I was missing out by swearing off pickled things. Pickled cabbage adds crunch, color, and zesty flavor to any dish you add it to. Do you feel like your Vegan Sloppy Joes need a little color? A little zest for your Tofu Banh Mi? You could even replace the pickled red onions that fit so well on a charcuterie board with pickled red cabbage to change things up a bit.
So in the name of swaying all of the other pickle-haters out of the dark side, today I’m breaking down the basics of easy Pickled Red Cabbage.
Ingredients For Pickled Red Cabbage
Red Cabbage: Red cabbage is high in vitamin C and iron, making it an ultra-healthy choice. Who needs vitamin C packets when you’re fighting off a cold when you can just pickle some cabbage? And, I mean, that color! The deep purple adds an automatic eye-catcher to any dish, making it an overall win. We all know that a balanced diet starts with a variety of colors!
Vinegar: Any basic vinegar can be used to pickle, so take your pick. The most common is distilled white vinegar, a great option that you might already have in your pantry. With lighter-colored vegetables, you have to worry about the vinegar affecting the color, but since red cabbage is dark and rich in color you have the green light to spice it up with some apple cider or red wine vinegar. Rice vinegar is also a delicious option! Keep in mind, different kinds of vinegar have different flavors. For example, distilled white will be sharp and acidic while apple cider vinegar will be on the more mild side.
Seasonings: Finish it off with a quick blend of spices. I use sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper, but feel free to throw in your favorite dried herbs or spices! Sugar adds a little sweet, buttery flavor to the cabbage that’ll leave your taste buds satiated. Mustard seeds or red pepper flakes are also good options for a unique, memorable flavor.
How to make pickled cabbage
Making homemade pickled cabbage is so easy.
Step 1: Cut
For this you can use a mandolin or a knife. I like the mandolin for speed and the consistency of the slices, but the recipe will still be delicious with just a knife. You want nice, thin slices of cabbage so that your final product can be a subtle but well incorporated addition to any dish.
Step 2: Assemble
Mix it together with our brine – a combination of vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper. This is where your creative freedom comes in! Add your own mix of spices, choose your favorite vinegar, and change it up as you see fit with the proportions provided.
Step 3: Pickle
Let it sit for at least 2 hours. We won’t ferment this (like we would do with napa cabbage to make kimchi), but rather set it in the fridge where the flavors will continue to develop and soak into the cabbage. That’s how you’ll bring out the flavor of the spices you choose to put in and really make it your own.
To lid or not to lid? You’ll want some sort of jar with a lid if you want to store this in the fridge for future recipes. A glass jar is optimal as it’s less porous. Plastic jars can make for some off flavors once the vinegar has been sitting in it for a while.
Can you can it? Keep in mind, this isn’t canning, it’s quick pickling, so it will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge with a sealed jar. Tight fitting lids will keep longer than loose lids or just a covering.
Shelf Life: Raw ingredients will make your shelf life lessen. For example, raw garlic, while a delicious edition, guarantees that your final product won’t last longer than the 2-3 weeks. Try to store in the middle of the fridge, as storing it in the back will risk freezing and storing in the doors can lessen the shelf life.
What to do with pickled cabbage
I already mentioned some things you can do with your finished product, but pickled cabbage is the perfect zingy condiment to all sorts of meals! Try sprinkling a handful of it onto:
Be sure to try our other pickling recipes! Similar to this pickled cabbage recipe, these are all quick pickle recipes (meaning they’re ready in just a few hours instead of a few weeks!)
- Pickled Onions
- Refrigerator (Cucumber) Pickles
- Pickled Radishes
- Spiced Pickled Grapes
- Pickled Jalapeños
- Pickle Any Veggie
- ¼ of a red cabbage
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar 120 mL
- ½ cup water 120 mL
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- Cut: Remove the core from the cabbage then shred with a mandolin slicer or knife.
- Assemble: Add cabbage to a large glass jar or bowl, along with all other ingredients. Seal jar and shake, or simply stir bowl and cover.
- Pickle: Set on the counter for at least 2 hours (up to 6), shaking/stirring occasionally. Store tightly sealed in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks. Serve over salads, wraps, tacos, or burgers!