German Red Cabbage with Apples

photo taken by Janet Hudson, on October 2, 2010, CC licensing

From Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks (Wiley 2005)

Gil writes: "This German dish, also popular in Alsace, Austria, Holland, and Hungary, is usually served with boiled or mashed potatoes. The slight peppery flavor of the red cabbage, which is mellower than that of green varieties, is enhanced by the apples and acid; the sugar and vinegar contribute a sweet-and-sour dimension. Many older versions call for braising the cabbage for hours, but most people prefer a firmer texture in the cabbage. Some insist that the dish is even better left to stand in the refrigerator for a day and then reheated. The German grandmother who shared this recipe with me insisted that only tart apples should be used. She also advised, ‘Choose a cabbage that feels firm and heavy.'"

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil or unsalted butter
  • 3 to 4 tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith, Greening, Macoun, Macintosh, or Pippin
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 head (about 2 pounds) red cabbage, cored, tough outer leaves discarded, and shredded
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 5 whole cloves, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (optional)
  • ½ cup dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Burgundy
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • about ¼ cup granulated or packed brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • about 1 ½ tablespoons table salt or 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • about 1/8 tablespoon ground black pepper

 In a 4-quart nonreactive saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the apples and onions and sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and optional spices and sauté until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.
 Stir in the wine, water, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. The cabbage can be prepared one day ahead, refrigerated, and reheated before serving.

Sephardic or Askhenazi