Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pickled Red Cabbage

This summer, one of Mick’s co-workers gave us a couple of lovely homegrown red cabbages. As it is traditional to serve pickled red cabbage with Lancashire Hotpot, I decided to try my hand at pickling, something I have never done before. So, although I made this back in July, last week was the first time it was sampled, and it made an excellent accompaniment to the Hotpot.

The recipe for pickled red cabbage came from Isabella Beeton’s 1861 cookbook entitled, Book of Household Management. The following information about Mrs. Beeton comes from Wikipedia.

"Isabella Mary Beeton (nee Mayson; 12 March 1836 – 6 February 1865), universally known as Mrs Beeton, was the English author of, Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, and is one of the most famous cookery writers in history.

Popularly known as Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, it was essentially a guide to running a Victorian household, with advice on fashion, childcare, animal husbandry, poisons, the management of servants, science, religion, and industrialism.

Of the 1,112 pages, over 900 contained recipes, such that another popular name for the volume is Mrs Beeton's Cookbook. Most of the recipes were illustrated with coloured engravings, and it was the first book to show recipes in a format that is still used today. It is said that many of the recipes were actually plagiarised from earlier writers (including Eliza Acton), but the Beetons never claimed that the book's contents were original. It was intended as a guide of reliable information for the aspirant middle classes. Mrs Beeton is perhaps described better as its compiler and editor than as its author, many of the passages clearly being not her own words."

Below is her recipe for Pickled Red Cabbage.


red cabbage
2 pint vinegar - to each quart add 1 tbsp ginger, well bruised
1oz whole black pepper
a little cayene, if liked


1. Take off the outside decayed leaves of a nice red cabbage, cut it into quarters, remove the stalks, and cut it across in very thin slices.
2. Lay these on a dish, and cover them plentifully with salt, then cover with another dish.

3. Leave for 24 hours; turn into a colander to drain, and if necessary, wipe lightly with a clean, soft cloth. Put them in a jar; boil up the vinegar with the spices, and when cold, pour it over the cabbage.

It will be fit for use in a week or two, but if kept for a very long time, the cabbage is liable to get soft and discoloured. To be really nice and crisp, and of a good red colour, it should be eaten almost immediately after it is made. A little bruised cochineal boiled with the vinegar adds greatly to the appearance of this pickle. Tie down with bladder, and keep in a dry place.

The only changes I made were:

I used some salt, but not plentiful amounts.
I used ground ginger instead of fresh.
I didn’t use cochineal.
I used a screw top lid on the jar, not a bladder.

And, despite having been made three months earlier, it was still crisp, and a good red color.


Pam said...

I need to make this. Whenever my husband and I go to a local German restaurant he loves the pickled red cabbage.

How interesting that his book is from the 1800's. I wonder if they would have it at the library - it sounds like an interesting read. Great recipe Jan.

Paula said...

Look at you traveling back in time and making picked red cabbage! I have to admit to you that I had to look up what cochineal was. I enjoy the manner of speech from the past, and always find it interesting how older cookbooks list required ingredients and instructions for preparation. Did Mrs. Beeton only live 29 years? I'd love to see that book. Sounds like your take on Mrs. Beeton's cabbage was a success!

Beth said...

Red cabbage reminds me of my Grandfather - he could never get enough of the stuff. Never made any myself - yet!

Raquel said...

Jan, this sounds great! I love pickled cabbage and yours looks lovely. Much love, Raquel XO

Cheryl said...

I agree that looks really tasty, only I am the only one in this family who would eat it!

Candy said...

Oh my mom will love this! Thanks for sharing!

The Blonde Duck said...

I saw you on Pam's blog and had to come say hi!

Jason said...

I'm so glad your back to blogging again! I hope you are doing much better.
This looks amazing, almost like my pickle recipe, but with cabbage, yummy! I love anything pickled, but never thought of ginger, my mouth is watering already.

Jan said...

Thanks Jan - I will get pickling ready for my next Lancashire hotpot!!

B.B.B. said...

Hi Jan :)

I've just read your comment on Jan's (of WDIWTCT) Lancashire hotpot post, and jumped here.

It's good to learn about traditions. I guess I'll go to the pickles store this weekend to buy some red cabbage pickle. Can't wait to prepare it! :)) But next time I'll try at home.

Thanks for sharing!