How to Can Zesty Red Cabbage for Long-Term Storage
Red cabbage is an excellent vegetable to have on hand due to its level of nutrients and hearty texture. However, incorporating adequate portions into recipes can prove to be a challenge since it’s not the greatest tasting vegetable out there as well. One of the best ways to get the most that red cabbage has to offer is by pickling, and the following recipe outlines the general process. Best of all, you can process the cabbage and store it over the long-term for up to a year.
3-4 heads of cabbage (approx 12 lbs)
8 cups of red wine vinegar
1 cup of brown sugar
½ cup of canning salt
¼ cup of allspice
¼ cup of celery seed
¼ cup of cloves (whole)
½ cup of mustard seed
¼ cup of nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks (broken into small pieces)
The first step is to remove the cores from the cabbage, along with any defective leaves, before cutting it into chunks and shredding. Place the shredded cabbage in layers, sprinkling each one with salt, into in a large stainless steel bowl or crockpot. Cover and let rest for at least 24 hours. This will help the cabbage to break down, become more tender and “ferment” a bit before processing. You will notice that colored liquid will begin to pool as the cabbage softens, and this is perfectly normal.
The next day, pour the cabbage and liquid through a colander, and strain before repeating by rinsing with some clean and cool water. Line some baking sheets or trays with paper towels, and spread out the cabbage in even layers. Allow the towels to soak up some more of the liquid for around 6 hours.
Processing the Cabbage
Prepare your water bath canner, and sterilize and preheat the canning jars and lid assemblies. While all of that is heating up, place the dry ingredients, except the nutmeg and mustard, into some cheesecloth and tie it up in order to make a spice bag. Place the bag into a large saucepan and add the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, while stirring continually, and immediately reduce to a simmer. Stir continually until all of the sugar has dissolved, and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes.
Place the cabbage into each canning jar and pack tightly until almost ½ inch of headspace remains. Carefully ladle or pour in the liquid and remove any air bubbles. You want the liquid to rise above the cabbage while leaving a minimum of ½ inch of headspace before attaching the lids and bands. Place in your water bath canner, making sure the jars are completely submerged, and process them for 20 minutes. Don’t forget to adjust for altitude.
When finished, remove the jars and allow them to cool on a flat surface at room temperature for 24 hours. Check the seals and jars for damage or defects. Label and date those that are ready for storage and either consume or refrigerate the rest. You should be able to keep the cabbage in the refrigerator for up to a week, and the ones in your stockpile should be good for around a year as long as they are properly sealed and stored.
While you can process and store the pickled cabbage in quart jars, we recommend using pints as the product will need to be consumed or refrigerated after opening. Pints make it easier to avoid wasting leftover cabbage while helping you to better ration what you have stocked away. Try it for yourself, and see how this delicious and zesty recipe can make it easier to enjoy the benefits of red cabbage.