Sweet Pickled Cabbage - Chef Abbie Gellman MS, RD, CDN

Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Chef Abbie Gellman RD

My sweet and simple Pickled Cabbage is sure to add a crunchy, zing to your next meal!  It comes together quickly, and lasts in the fridge for a week or more.  Try it with tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, or as a side salad!


Cabbage, a wonderous vegetable that is nutrient dense and can last for weeks when stored properly in the refrigerator.  It is from the plant family Brassicas, along with vegetables like kale, broccoli and cauliflower, and comparatively it is usually much more affordable!  Cabbage, comes in many varietals, and is a staple food around the globe.  Variations on my Pickled Dishes can be found in the cuisine of many regions.

Cabbage, like apples, carrots and potatoes can store well over the long winter months with proper storage making them an important food source before refrigeration was widely available.   The word “cabbage” comes from the French word “caboche,” which means head. A fitting term as most cabbage varieties are shaped like a head!1

History of Cabbage

The origins of cabbage and other Brassicas is difficult to pinpoint as different varietals have been found to grow around the world.  It is believed they were domesticated in Europe about 3,000 years ago. In Asia, cabbage has been used since 4,000 B.C. and was first found to be cultivated in North China. 2

In ancient Rome, cabbage was considered a luxury and was revered for its medicinal purposes to treat gout, headaches, and the symptoms of poisonous mushroom ingestion.  It was also consumed before and after heavy drink as a hangover cure! So if you foresee a big, boozy night in your neat future, do as the Romans do and make a batch of my Pickled Cabbage!2

The health benefits of cabbage most famously are seen with sailors like Captain James Cook in the 1760s.  Scurvy, a disease caused by a vitamin C deficiency killed over 2 million sailors between 1500-1800.  While at sea for an indeterminable amount of time, the solution for scurvy was fermented cabbage! It could be kept at room temperature for months at a time and provided enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy.3

Nutritional Benefits of Cabbage

In addition to being rich in vitamin C, cabbage is a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  In just 1 cup of cabbage, there are 2 grams of fiber, 85% of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of vitamin K, 54% of the RDI for vitamin C and a good source of calcium, potassium and magnesium.4  Along with the other vegetables and ingredients in my Pickled Cabbage, you are assured to get a healthy side dish!

Pickled Cabbage vs Sauerkraut

You may be asking is my Pickled Cabbage recipe the same as sauerkraut, and is it probiotic? The sauerkraut or fermented cabbage enjoyed by Captain James Cook and a staple in the diet of so many cultures, is made by combing cabbage and salt.  The salt draws the water out of the cabbage creating a brine, which helps to prevent the growth of mold and other spoilage microorganisms. It is left at room temperature and the lactobacillus that are natively found on the cabbage and in the air facilitate the fermentation.

My Pickled Cabbage has a ½ cup of vinegar which prevents the growth of Lactobacillus bacteria and furthermore it is kept in the refrigerator, which is below the ideal temperatures for fermentation.  My Pickled Cabbage still provides all the health benefits of cabbage, carrots and the other ingredients!

Culinary Variations

Look at my Pickled Cabbage, like all recipes, as a framework or starting point to play with different ingredients to make it your own.  The vinegar, cabbage and salt are essential, and otherwise you can substitute different seasonings and vegetables to compliment your meals.  You can omit the maple syrup or use a different sweetener such as honey or brown sugar.  Instead of carrots and celery, or in addition to you can use radishes, turnips, onion, or garlic.

You most likely will not use an entire head of cabbage for this recipe.  You can store the rest of the head in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, depending on its freshness.  Some other ways to use cabbage include saute, grill, roast and of course enjoy raw.  It is delicious sautéed with butter and onions, added to a curry or soup and used to make cabbage rolls.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Now that you know the history, nutritional benefits and many culinary uses of cabbages––let’s get cooking! This recipe whips up in about 10 minutes and can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for at least a week.  The crunchy, bright taste compliments pork and chicken perfectly and makes for a great salad. Enjoy!

Similar Pages 

Looking for other side dishes? Try my Cabbage Apple Slaw, Greek Yogurt Potato Salad, or Plum Fruit Avocado Salad.


  1. cabbage | Origin and meaning of cabbage by Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed August 29, 2020. https://www.etymonline.com/word/cabbage
  2. History of Cabbage – Origins and Domestication of Cabbage. Accessed August 29, 2020. http://www.vegetablefacts.net/vegetable-history/history-of-cabbage/
  3. Butler S. Ahoy, Pass the Cabbage: Preserved Foods in the Age of Exploration. HISTORY. Accessed August 29, 2020. https://www.history.com/news/ahoy-pass-the-cabbage-preserved-foods-in-the-age-of-exploration
  4. Cabbage, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories. Accessed August 29, 2020. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2371/2
Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Sweet Pickled Cabbage

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Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Keyword: cabbage, pickled, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Refrigerator time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Abbie Gellman RD


  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 2 to 3 cups shredded cabbage


  • In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, celery seed, salt, and pepper.
  • Add celery and mix well. Add cabbage and mix well.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 1 to 2 hours before serving.




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