The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Delicate and piquant red cabbage recipe

raw red cabageDanny tottered in, burdened with two carrier bags of bargains on Friday evening. He had been dispatched to buy a good bottle of vodka. Waitrose had Stoly for ten quid a bottle so he swooped in there and had discovered a small bin of almost-out-of-date fruit and veg.

As I poured a vodka, he retrieved the bargains and piled them on the table. This mountain included an organic red cabbage and four figs, both for 20p. As the fridge has decided to cross the tracks and become a freezer, we left them on the worktop overnight.

Saturday, mid morning I feasted on figs (D has yet to discover how great these are) and this evening I proposed making a red cabbage side dish to accompany D’s roast chicken.

“Great idea.” Probably remembering Sauerkraut he added. “I don’t want it to be too acidic or too sweet.”

I have found that most red cabbage dishes are both. Even though I was planning a sort of Sauerkraut, I made a quick U turn and ventured onto the internet. As I was checking out recipes he rushed downstairs.
“If you are doing red cabbage, we need to schedule it towards the end. Just let me know. It shouldn’t need more than 10 minutes at most.”
I was deep into a recipe that called for 2.5 hours simmering on the hob.

He was gone before I could say red cab. As he had only just put the chicken in the oven I was on reasonably safe ground. The most appealing recipe was this Norwegian Red Cabbage recipe from Recipe Zaar. Timing was just 1.5 hours. I was in with a chance.

However, I reckoned that my cabbage would take a little longer than his roast. Probably I would need to tweak. So I followed his instructions and supplemented the vinegar with our homemade raspberry vinegar, which is mild but bursting with flavour. I used dark brown muscavado sugar and our wild plum jelly which is sharp and tangy rather than the sweet one suggested in the recipe.

The chicken rested for quite a while as I dealt with the cabbage The final result stopped all time related complaints in their tracks. The cabbage was soft with just the right bite. It was gently tangy and fragrant. Expecting a quiet rebuke for holding up the meal, I was amazed when D tasted it and announced,
“This is exactly how I’d like red cabbage to be cooked from now on.”

A lucky break as it is the first time that I have cooked red cabbage. Thank you Recipe Zaar for your inspiration and Danny for your reservations.

Fragrant and tangy red cabbage recipe


  • 500g of finely sliced red cabbage (fleshy stalks removed)
  • 2 tbls of raspberry vinegar
  • 2 tbls of muscovado sugar (dark brown)
  • 125ml of water
  • 25g of butter
  • 3 tbls of wild plum jelly (or any tart tasting jelly that you find in your larder such as sour grape, red currant, gooseberry). If you only have ultra sweet jelly, add a half teaspoonful of raspberry vinegar when you add the jelly.


  1. In a large casserole combine the chopped red cabbage, raspberry vinegar, sugar, water and butter. Bring gradually to the boil and simmer for an hour, turning occasionally.
  2. Add the jelly and simmer for 20 mins. Drain and serve.

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  1. Lincsgirl

    What a refreshing change reading through the conversations on surviving 2009, I smiled – most of what you girls are talking about is what I was taught as a young girl.
    As a grandmother of nine I am passing on ‘Tips and Wrinkles’ to my children now, just as my mother and grandmother did to me.
    I have a small greenhouse which grows the prerequisite cucumbers and tomatoes and I have a small veg plot, about 18′ x 7′ on which I grow the majority of my veg; this year there is Garlic, Spring Onions, Shallots, Onions, Beetroot, Lettuce, Swede, Cabbage (Red and Green) Cauliflower, Sprouts,and Leeks. At the back of the plot there is a shrub border and that’s where the climbing beans, some brocolli and the Blackcurrants areI’ve also got purple sprouting brocolli growing in the flower bed towards the front garden. I have potatoes growing in canvas bags and old compost bags, and the carrots and parsnips are in large plant pots. The gooseberries, lemon balm, shrub French Beans and Thyme are hiding the oil tank; while Pineapple Sage and perennial Basil, Sage and mint are growing at the feet of climbing Roses and Jasmine.
    The trick is ‘don’t go mad growing 40 odd cabbages when for about 6 weeks you probably only want one a week – so grow 6 or 8 plants only, and grow the veg so that it rolls on through the seasons.
    We’ve just finished the summer cauliflowers, so are now eating carrots and cabbage.

    I do’nt buy very much at a supermarket now. Puff Pastry takes no more that about 20 mins to make, rest for 10 minutes then ready to use. So make it on Tuesday to use Wednesday – just remember to wrap it up when you put it in the fridge.

    Bake your Bread – you can make it from scratch using fresh yeast in less time than the breadmaker takes – all you need is a warm linen cupboard or similar to raise it.(Asda will give you a piece big enough for 2 or 3 loaves for FREE)
    You don’t need to do loads of knocking back. Mix your bread (and get your hands in there), knead it, put it in your tin, put it to raise (called proving) then bake. about halfway through, take it out of the tin and continue to cook without it. When time is up check if it’s cooked by tapping the bottom, if it sounds hollow then it’s ready. And oh boy what a fantastic taste experience – it just can’t be matched. Make it to your taste, you don’t need loads of sugar and salt, and you can replace the hard fats with olive oil or sunflower oil – add seeds, cheese, onion what ever you like and all to your taste – oh and the crust can be as crusty as you want it to be – it really is easy. Once tasted – never forgotton.

    Anyway girls – I’ve rattled on enough – enjoys experiencing the liberating changes to your lives, you can only benefit.

    Good Luck and I’ll drop by and have a read another day too.

  2. Hello Lioness…re red cabbage..mix all the ingredients in any order…bake in the oven @
    gas mark 2..300f..100c for 2 -3 hours…stir once or twice during cooking..keeps hot for ages and freezes..good luck !

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Lioness

    Bad luck, how disappointing. Most of our recipes are pretty easy as I’m more interested in good food than spending hours in the kitchen.

    I have made many disasters myself the most dramatic one is described here

  4. Well, I did try it and my skills ensured it turned into another pong-creating experience. I followed the recipe but forgot about the water, such a tiny detail, and the pan lid has little holes in it so it all came to an abrupt end when it started to burn. Still edible – not much choice there – but the cabbagey smell was not pleasant and the slight burnt taste didn’t much add to it. I will give it another try when the horror fades, there must be hope even for people like me.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Lioness,

    I’d love to hear if it woked out well for you!

  6. There’s almost a whole red cabbage clamouring for attention in my fridge. I am a dismal cook, truly appalling, and I have recently pinpointed what my exact problem is, it’s not merely that I dislike cooking but I don’t know how to combine ingredients or season and the end products very often taste alike and bland or, worse, blah. But I love veggies and decided there must be a way to win the red cabbage fight (previous attempts not so tasty). Don’t have the jam but will give the recipe a try, NOW.

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Richard

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Like your imaginative substitute ingredients!

  8. Richard Johnston

    I´m converted to your red cabbage, more today but I have had to substitute Cider Vinegar and Orange Marmalade. Here in the Dominican Republic you can´t find everything. Don´t know how it would taste as a leftover there´s never any left.

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