Pickled Cabbage Recipe (Russian Sauerkraut)

This is that “special” recipe Nasim has been raving about – the pickled cabbage recipe, similar to the popular “Russian Sauerkraut”. I did not want to call it Russian Sauerkraut, because it is a little different than the Russian version ingredient-wise and taste-wise (it is much better :)) This pickled cabbage came out so good, that we ate it all in less than a week! It is sooo tasty and crunchy, that you will never want to try any other pickled cabbage elsewhere. And the good news is – it is very simple to make!

During the last two weeks I have not been able to post anything, since we have been very busy enjoying the company of our parents. I do not think I have to say much for people to understand how it is to spend time with the people you love, who are only able to visit you once in so many years. I both consciously and unconsciously refused to spend time on my routine Internet surge. Even though my mom and dad were encouraging me to keep on blogging and taking pictures, I did not want to spend my time away from my parents. We talked for hours, watched movies, cooked and ate, and did all kinds of fun stuff together. My come back to blogging only means that I yet again will keep on dreaming and awaiting our next meeting with my beloved parents and wishing that those two weeks lasted a little longer, if not forever…

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My parents always taught me to cherish memories that bring me joy. While there is a lot I can tell you about my cherished memories, I decided to pick one that goes back to my grandmother, who passed away a couple of years back. The recipe of pickled cabbage is of my grandmother’s. We would eat it almost every day, along with different types of food. I have been craving for this cabbage for years and I asked my dad to make it for us while he was here. He gladly accepted the job and taught me everything he knew about my grandmother’s secret recipe while making it. We joked, laughed and cried, adding another share to our cherished moments and memories. In time, I hope to pass this recipe on to my children, but meanwhile, I decided to share it with my lovely readers.

Pickled cabbage is a very healthy side dish or a salad option. It is full of vitamins C and K. Furthermore, pickled cabbage can be used in food preparation, soups and pies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium matured cabbages
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 3 tsp of whole black peppercorns
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup of warm water

Directions:

Peel off the skin from carrots and garlic cloves. If carrots are long, cut them in three sections and julienne thinly. Once done with julienning, set carrots aside until needed:
 
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My father brought a couple of fine knives for my two sons as a gift. This is our family tradition! This was the first time we tried out the knives and I was amazed with their performance. These knives are hand-crafted by a master blacksmith, one of the best in Uzbekistan! I hope my children will cherish their knives once they get older and remember their grandfather, who loves them dearly.

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Wash whole cabbages, cut each cabbage in four, shred the cabbage as seen in these pictures:

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Crush the cleaned garlic cloves once or twice. My dad used the bottom of the knife handle for this, but you can do it your way. Just make sure that the garlic is not cut or crushed to small pieces. Set aside until needed.

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Salt is very important in pickling the cabbage. If you add less than you should, the cabbage will not ferment and ultimately will not pickle. If you add more salt than needed, cabbage will be unpleasantly salty. My dad uses approximate measuring like I do for the most part. But since a lot of people like to know the exact measurements, I asked him to give me a number. 3 Tbsp is your number for this recipe :) Sprinkle the salt over the readily cut cabbage and start pressing/squeezing the cabbage little by little. This way the cabbage will loosen and start releasing water, which is an important ingredient for proper fermentation.

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Once done squeezing the cabbage, you should see water coming out a little. Now it is time to place the ready ingredients in a large pot. We are going to make three layers of cabbage and carrots. Make sure you have big enough of a pot. Starting with the cabbage, place 1/3 of the whole amount on the bottom of the pot, top it up with 1/3 of the carrots, drop 2-3 cloves of garlic, spread 1 tsp of black peppercorns and place 2 bay leaves:

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Repeat the process twice more and every time press the mixture down with your fist to let the water out of the cabbage.

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Usually, water is not a necessary addition. But to be on the safe side, you can add 1/2 cup of warm water. Cover the cabbage with a plate, making sure that almost everything gets covered. I didn’t have that big of a plate, so we had to work with what we had:

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What you’ve done with your fist so far is very important in obtaining the right type of pickled cabbage. You will need to ensure that the cabbage is tight enough to release water to properly pickle. For that, you will need to put a heavier object on top of the plate and let it stand until the pickling process is over. Press everything nicely and put the pot somewhere with a constant room temperature – cold environments are not good for this. Check the cabbage out the next day. Is the water level up? Is it salty enough? If you think it can use more salt, make sure to add it to the water that the cabbage released that day without delaying.

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After 3 days, the cabbage will be ready to consume. Replace the pickled cabbage to jars and keep in the refrigerator.

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Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Lola, thank you for sharing the recipe and to honor your parents and grandmother, I will make sure that my wife and I take the time to try this. Although the recipe was nice, the story and the love that it illustrates that your family has for one another is even better. I am sure that your sons will cherish the knives from their grandfather. I hope that it is not long before your family can be reunited again. Thank you, again.

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      Tom, thank you for your kind words. The far we live from our parents the stronger our bond is getting. It is both fortunate and unfortunate at the same time. I really hope that soon we can once again live in one city. Definitely try the recipe out, if you like pickled stuff you will never go wrong with this one :)

  2. Love your step-by-step pictures :D

  3. Rasmda ham ishtahani ochib turibdi :) Bu yil tuzlangan karammi yuzidan ikki uch marta kasal boldim. Nafs qursin :)

  4. Uyda shunaqa usulda tayyorlashardi. Odam sog’indi. Bu yerda esa turklarri turshisi bilan kifoyatlanib turibmiz. Ajabmas, reseptizdan ruhlanib o’zim tayyarlavorsam :)

  5. Shu turklarni turshusi hech yoqmaydi bizga,bizni tuzlamalarimizga nima yetsin!! O’zi o’zbek oshhonasiga nima yetsin !!! Turklar bizdan o’rganishsin,sitenizi portakalagaci.com da tavsiye ettim ;))

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      Dila hanim, katta rahmat :) Turklarning turshularini yoqtirish uchun immunitet qurishingiz kerak-da :) Menda ham unday immunitet yo’q

  6. Salom Lola opa ;) Receptlar uchun katta rahmat! Tuzlangan karamni ko’ribla yegim kelib ketib, o’sha kuni uyga borib qilib ko’rdim, bugun 3-kun, ertalab qarasam karam siznikiga o’xshab oq rang emas, sariqrooooq chiqibdi… sababi nimadaligini bilmadim :( keyin bu yerni karamini o’zi yoqtirmayman (biz CA da yashaymiz) qattiq bo’ladi, shuning uchun tuzlanganda ham hali ham qattiq turibdi, yeb ko’rsam hali ham “girt-g’irt” qilyapti… siz ham oddiy supermarketdagi karamdan qildingizmi?

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      Salom Hilola,

      Tuzi yaxshimi? Ezish kerak bo’lgan joyda yaxshilab suvini chiqardingizmi? Keyin karam tanlaganda ancha yetilgan, qariroq (kattaroq) karamlardan tanlash kerak. Sariqroq bo’lgani sabzidan bo’lsa kerak. Rasmlardagidek ustma ust qo’ydingizmi? Aralashtirib yuborish mumkin emas. Pishgandan keyin tareklaga olayotganda ham yuzidan sidirib olish joyiz.

      Tarelka bilan yopib qo’yganingizdan keyin, bir kunlar chamasi karamning suvi ko’tarilishi kerak. Ko’tarildimi? Menga bir rasm olib hilola@gmail.com ga jo’natib yuborsangiz zo’r bo’ladi? :)

  7. Salom!
    Tuzi yaxshi, menga ozgina sho’rga ham o’xshadi, sizni receptingizni teng yarmini olib qilgan edim. Karamni yaxshilab ezgani kuchim yetmadimi… lekin suvi chiqdi.
    Rasmlardagidek ustma ust qo’ydim, aralashtirmadim.
    Karam hali ham ozgina qattiqroq, lekin juda ham mazzali chiqibdi :) Uje tugatib ham bo’ldik, hozir yana bir marta qilib qo’ydim :) Rasmga olib jo’natib yuboraman! Karamni tanlashni bilmabman, yanagi safar albatta siz aytgandek tanlab olaman.

    katta rahmat! :)

  8. Lovely story and recipe – thank you! I love the idea (and the look) of the knives your father gave his grandsons. What a lovely tradition!

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      Thank you very much :) Yeah, I hope they can use the knives in the kitchen. I need helpers in there right about now :P

  9. I know my grandfather is doing some thing similar. Much success to you.

  10. Gotta try it!!! looks delicious!

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      How did it turn out? :)

      • Just awesome. After all the smashing and preparation, and being tempted to assault the fridge during those three days, it turned out fantastic with that rich smell and texture…thanks for sharing your recipes!!! Best regards.

  11. Hi Lola, what a tender story! Those of us who came from another country and left family behind understand well. I am from Greece, my mother the only survivor of my immediately family still lives there at the age of 82. She refuses yet to come live with me, as the language barrier makes her feel isolated a bit, but she says one day…
    I love your recipe! So healthy, so simple! I will definetely give this a try! It reminds me something I tried long time ago in a lady’s home (A Greek from Pontos) something makes me think it might be a way of pickling cabbage shared in the region. Thank you thank you very much for sharing it. Greetings from Boston.

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      Thank you for visiting our blog, Maria!! Oh, I wish your mother would join you in Boston :( It is very hard to live somewhere else knowing your family lives on the other side of the globe. Maybe one day we can talk them into staying with us. I know I might be dreaming big, but it is worth dreaming big than not dreaming altogether :)

      I hope you like the pickled cabbage recipe. I am sure you will love it!! Let me know how yours turn out.

  12. Thankyou for sharing this recipe, I will have to make it, as my mum used to make it the Russian way…..

  13. Thank you very much. I will try to prepare it myself, because i missed pickled cabbage terribly. :)))

  14. Hello. I just made this now, hoping it will turn out ok. I’m from turkey living in norway, and we make pickles too! But never tried it this way. We usually have vinegar in it. But i just realized that i’ve cut the carrots bigger than in these pictures, hoping it still works, too late to change that now :) Is the water supposed to cover all the cabbage after a day? What if it doesnt? Should i add more water then? And thanks for the recipe.

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      Aylincim, how did it turn out? I am sorry for I am responding a little late. Bigger chunks of carrot should not be a problem at all. Let me know how it all went and if you like it or not :D

  15. I am thinking of making this with a load of cabbage off my allotment. Will it keep for a long time if I make a large quantity of it?

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      Hi Mark! Yes, it will keep for a while. The key is to keep it in a cool place after it is done pickling. Preferably in the refrigerator.

      • Mark – if you are making a very large batch and think that it will go bad in the fridge before you can finish it, you can freeze it. The texture may not be as crisp and firm after defrosting but the taste will not be affected. Where my husband is from, people make huge amounts of fermented cabbage around the time that the first frosts hit and store it on their balcony or deck, where it lasts all winter.

  16. Lola opa, karamni tuzlaganimga 3 kun bo’ldi. Bugun ochib ko’rsam, karami ham sabzisi ham sal tirikroqday. Yana qaytarib bostirib qo’ydim, ko’proq bostirilib tursa karam va sabzi yumshoqroq bo’lib chiqadimi? Chekkadagi suvini nima qilaman, ularni to’kib yuborish kerak emasmi?

  17. manoj vyas says:

    Hi Lola,I liked ur recipe.The first thing I am doing is to go out and buy two good knoves like ur granpa did,come home and start the cabbage.

  18. Cool, I’ll try it this weekend…

  19. Jose Gallardo says:

    Thanks so much, Is a very nice gift for San Jose (Have you ever heard about Las Fallas??).
    Living very far from my people on this important day, anything like a lovely recipe is very welcome!
    I will enjoy the pickles.
    Have a nice day.

  20. Alexandra says:

    Hi,
    It was quite a pleasure reading the recipe and the story around it, and as I’d like to try the recipe, here comes the technical question: I am in need of pickled cabbage leaves (as an absolutely necessary starting point for another recipe…) in about 5 days, so I’d like your opinion on this matter: will the cabbage pickle if not shredded ? as getting the water out of the cabbage seems a process stimulated mostly by the shredding . Thank you in advance.
    Alexandra

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      My dear Alexandra, sorry for getting a little late to your question. Yes the leaves will pickle! Maybe not as much as the shredded ones, but with given enough time, they will be ready.

  21. I made a batch of your sauerkraut yesterday and today there’s a lot of water on it. Do I leave the water or drain it off?

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      John, don’t drain it. That’s good you have that much water in it. That means cabbage is getting fermented well!

  22. I am new to this fermented food idea. I am intrigued, so I have tried your recipe. I put a layer of purple cabbage for the bottom layer, then 2 regular green cabbage layers.
    Here’s a picture with a spoonful of the batch turned over: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tigerlillyshop/6049688815/in/photostream

    So far so good, we are on day 3, temps have been about 80 degrees F, salt and garlic is just right. Tasting good. I took a bit out to refrigerate and eat, but I would like to see it get a bit more sour. I am going to leave the batch out for a few more days, planning on checking it daily. I am just so nervous, will it get more sour the longer I leave it out? Is it safe?

    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Allison

  23. Hi Lola ,
    Clear instructions and excellent photographs . Well done . Cheers

  24. Nerida Koolik says:

    Thank you for this lovely recipe. My husband is from Russian heritage, and this is one recipe I have never tackled. But I will make this next week!
    I loved your family story that you have shared. There is this saying – “That which is loved is always beautiful”.
    Be blessed everyday.

  25. Thank you for a lovely clear recipe. Have just completed my first batch and have been munching it down! i think i put perhaps a bit too much salt – erred on the side of caution with my first ever batch of home fermentation style pickle. But it is still delicious. Read through your story too with much empathy as I am separated from my parents and my only sister and her family. They live in opposite directions to each other too so visits from my folks have to be split between us, them and other family too. It seems the way things are for so many of us in this modern world, amazed at how many this is the case for, just from those who have left a note on your pickled cabbage page!

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      Oh, Lynette! Thank you for dropping a line and letting me know how it turned out :) Food is probably the biggest thing which unites people :) and I am glad that a lot of people can relate to pickled cabbage. It might get a little salty. Always depends how salty you want the cabbage to be. I am big friends with salt family!!!

      By the way, I love your name! If I ever have another daughter, I will name her that.

  26. Thanks for the recipe. My niece has just mailed me my Christmas gift, a German pickling tub, and I’m cutting the carrots and cabbage right at this moment. The bay, garlic and peppercorns are waiting. It’s high summer here in the Australian bush, so here’s hoping it’s not too hot for the ferment. We shall see. I’ve already pickled some of my own bamboo shoots using the anaerobic oil-on-top method (delicious result) but this is my first shot at a classical sauerkraut..

    Again, many thanks for taking so much time to make the procedure clear and simple.

    Rob

    • Lola Mansurov says:

      Hi Rob, how did it turn out? I’ve been using this method for a while now and love how it turns out. Let me know!

  27. Thank you so much for posting this!! I have been looking for a recipe like this! Reminds me of my childhood in Ukraine. Making it today!!!! :)

  28. Thank you for this recipe! I love it!
    Back home, when you serve it, you add fresh chopped scallion, parsley and sunflower oil (the fragrant one!)
    Will try your version!

  29. Anne from NZ says:

    So helpful to have the photos – can’t wait to try !

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