An easy guide to making sour cabbage at home
6 mins read

An easy guide to making sour cabbage at home

Dear Diary,

One of my favorite pickles is sour cabbage, mostly the homemade version. That’s why I’ve been making it for years, so that it’s always at hand in the winter. There are many versions of the recipe in the different regions of the country, let me present here mine as well…

When should you put away the cabbage?

Generally, I do it on October 23rd, because it’s a national holiday in Hungary, so we have time to deal with it, but this year it was delayed by a few weeks, because summer was still raging in October. I was waiting for the temperature outside to drop permanently below 10 degrees, but the weather became quite unpredictable lately.

Anyway, it’s worth making when it’s not too warm outside, otherwise it ripens too quickly and doesn’t last long. However, if we leave it for too late, then it won’t be a delicious stuffed cabbage on the Christmas holiday table, at least 5-6 weeks are required for it to sour deliciously.

What do we need? Cabbage, of course, but what else?

Unfortunately, since our apartment doesn’t have a pantry or a cellar, there isn’t really room for too many preserves, jams, and other things that are usually put away for the winter, so generally I don’t make such things.

But the only one that I have always made towards the end of autumn in the last couple of years is sour cabbage – luckily, a barrel of cabbage still fits just right on the balcony. According to my recipe, the following ingredients are needed – for a 60L barrel:

  • 30-40 kg – approx. 20 heads of cabbage
  • iodine free! salt – approx. 1.5 kg (4 dkg/kg cabbage)
  • whole black pepper – 1 bag
  • dried dill
  • savory
  • horseradish
  • water
An easy guide to making sour cabbage at home

My starting quantity is now: 36 kg of cabbage – 19 heads, we’ll see how much of this I manage to squeeze into the barrel.

Unfortunately, this year I couldn’t manage to get some savory in time, and found only fresh dill instead of dried one, so I will add those later.

Detailed guide for making sour cabbage

Letter get to work!

Prepare the cabbage: first wash the heads of cabbage thoroughly, then remove the outer leaves if they are damaged, and finally cut out the trunk of the cabbage, making a hole.

Peel the horseradish and cut part of it into thinner, short strips.

Next, put a few pieces of horseradish and a few grains of pepper into the hole cut in the cabbage, then fill it with salt. It can go right into the barrel, with the hole facing up.

Place the first row (depending on the size, approx. 3 heads will fit). Cut some heads in half or quarters and fill the holes with them if you want more to fit in the barrel.

When the first row is ready, sprinkle a handful of salt on it, throw in some horseradish and spices.

I usually use a long rubber tube to stir the cabbage juice, in this case it is worth putting it in the barrel with one end hanging out, otherwise we won’t be able to push it down to the bottom later.

Then the next round can come, the same thing is repeated with as many layers as will fit in the barrel (I usually have about 4 rows). When the barrel is full (we finally managed to get 17 and a half heads into it), throw in the remaining horseradish and spices, then close the barrel for 24 hours (without water!), and let the salt work. Leave it in the warm kitchen.

It can be done in 3-4 hours, although it will take almost a day with a baby, but it is not an impossible task to do.

An easy guide to making sour cabbage at home

After 24 hours, dissolve the remaining salt in water and pour it over the cabbage. Make sure that the salt water ⚠️ COMPLETELY ⚠️ covers the cabbage, otherwise, within a week or two, what sticks out of the water will mold (my own experience, unfortunately, last year I had to throw out the top row because of this).

It is worth pushing the top down a bit to make sure it stays under the water. For this purpose, I use a plastic plate and some plastic bottles filled with water, not a very professional solution, but easily available. Whatever goes into the barrel for this purpose, wash it thoroughly first!

Before filling the barrel with water, it is worth taking it out to the balcony or to the place where it will be placed, because the barrel full of water is difficult to move.

An easy guide to making sour cabbage at home

During the first week or two, it is advised to swirl the water over it to mix the salt (using the rubber tube we inserted). At first do it daily, or in two days, then less often. If you have put a rubber tube in it, then either suck the juice from the cabbage into a large container, then pour it back into it, or blow it quite strongly several times, stirring up the salt from the bottom. If you did not put a tube in it, then simply shake the barrel.

After that, all we have to do is wait for it to mature, then it can be used to make stuffed cabbage and other delicacies.

XOXO from my kitchen 🙃

2 thoughts on “An easy guide to making sour cabbage at home

  1. This looks amazing. My husband is originally from Belarus and his family always makes Russian style sauerkraut. I know they would love this sour cabbage preparation as well. Can’t wait to share with my mother-in-law!

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