Pickled red cabbage

Kokt rödkål

A bowl of red cabbage

Brits tend to call this pickled red cabbage, but Swedes tend to just call it cooked red cabbage. Perhaps this is because the spicing leads to a sweet and sour taste which is so typical of the way many Swedish dishes are cooked.

There are countless ways of preparing this dish, so don’t hesitate to adapt the recipe to what you have available and what you like. The principle is simply this: cook shredded red cabbage slowly, smothered in something vinegary along with some onion, apple and something red, dark and juicy. John Duxbury


Recipe summary for pickled red cabbage


• One of the great merits in cooking this dish is that it needs little attention and it will keep for weeks. It even improves with keeping.
• Add a spoonful of duck, goose or pork fat when you heat it up for dinner and it will look nice and shiny.
• Try replacing the white vinegar with raspberry vinegar (available from some delicatessens) or äppelvinäger med lingon (available from IKEA).


1   large red cabbage, about 1 kg (2 lb)
2   apples, preferably slightly tart
1   onion, roughly chopped
60 ml (¼ cup) white spirit vinegar
120 ml (½ cup) red fruit or red jam
4 tbsp   raisins
1 tsp   caraway seeds
3   juniper berries
3   whole allspice berries
1 tsp   salt, preferably coarse sea salt
1   bay leaf
1   sprig of thume

*Such as plums, lingonberries, lingonberry jam or redcurrant jam


1. Pick off any ugly outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut into wedges and remove the stalk. Shred the rest by hand or in a food processor. Transfer to a large saucepan.

2. Core the apples, but leave the skins on. Cut into chunks and add to the saucepan.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients and give everything a good stir.

4. Bring to a simmer over a medium/low heat, stirring from time to time and taking care that it does not dry out. If it looks likely to do so, add some water.

5. Simmer for an hour on a low heat and then have a taste. Add more of this and that until it is to your liking.

6. Simmer for another hour or longer until the cabbage is tender and jammy. Again, feel confident enough to add a bit more of this and that before serving.


You can reheat this a week or more later and it may even taste better! Of course, you can reheat in a microwave, but if you have time the best way is to place it in a saucepan again and simmer it for 20 minutes or so.


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John Duxbury
Editor and Founder