How to Make Homemade Canned Pickled Cabbage
You think making and canning your own pickled cabbage is difficult or expensive? Not at all! You can do it with basic equipment already in your kitchen - you just need a canning pot. And thanks to the vinegar in pickled cabbage, you can use either a plain open water bath pot or a pressure canner (which will also let you can low acid vegetables!) You can use red or white cabbage (I prefer red, as shown, but many people prefer white!)
So, here's how to can pickled cabbage! The directions are complete with instructions in easy steps and completely illustrated. In the winter when you open a jar, the pickled cabbage will taste MUCH better than any store-bought canned pickled cabbage!
Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of about 12 months, and aside from storing in a cool, dark place, require no special attention.
Directions for Making Canned Pickled Cabbage
Ingredients and Equipment
Recipe and Directions
Step 1 - Selecting the cabbage
The most important step! You need cabbage that are FRESH and crisp. Limp, old cabbage will make nasty tasting canned cabbage. Guests will probably throw them at you.. Select firm, crisp cabbage. Remove and discard any soft, diseased, spotted and chewed up cabbage.
How many cabbage and where to get them
You can grow your own, pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. About 12 pounds of cabbage is typically about 3 or 4 heads and it makes about 5 quarts or 10 pints of pickled cabbage. I wouldn't use canned cabbage; what's the point: Most of the flavor is gone from them, and you can always get fresh cabbage.
Step 2 - Prepare the jars and canner
Wash the jars and lids
This is a good time to get the jars ready! The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle. Otherwise put the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. I just put the lids in a small pot of almost boiling water for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" (available from target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) to pull them out.
Get the canner heating up
Rinse out your canner, put the rack in the bottom, and fill it with hot tap water. (Of course, follow the instruction that came with the canner, if they are different). Put it on the stove over low heat just to get it heating up for later on.
Step 3 -Wash the cabbage!
Remove the tough outer leaves. I'm sure you can figure out how to scrub the cabbage in plain cold or lukewarm water using your hands.
Step 4 - Quarter and shred
Just take a sharp knife and cut the cabbage. in to 4 quarters, through the stem. That makes it easy to slice of the tough stem part.
Next take each quarter and either shred it in a food processor, or use a grater (or a knife) as you prefer.
Step 5 - Layer the cabbage with salt and let stand 24 hours
yep, that's right, you're going to layer the cabbage with the 1/2 cup salt (total) until both are gone, in a large bowl (preferably a glass or plastic bowl, but metal's ok, since the mixture is not acidic yet). Cover the bowl and let it stand at room temperature (unless it is a hot summer day, then use the fridge) for 24 hours.
Step 6 - Rinse and drain
Rinse the cabbage under cool water in a strainer.
Drain the shredded cabbage thoroughly on cloth or paper towel lined trays for 6 hours.
Step 7 - Combine the spices in a large pot
together in a large pot, preferably a pot that does not have exposed metal (nonstick lined are ok). Don't turn the heat on yet.
Step 8 - tie the spices together in a spice bag
Using cheesecloth or a spice bag, put the
in the bag and using a twist tie, close the bag. If you don't have cheesecloth or a spice bag, a piece of thin clean cotton, like an old tie shirt, works fine.
Here's a great trick for the spices: get a baby food holder like this one, available at Target and any baby supplies store. It is made of plastic, and can hold the spices for easy removal later. It's reusable and has no metal, so it won't react with the vinegar!
Step 9 - Cook for 5 minutes
Turn the heat on and cook it for 5 minutes from the point it starts to boil
Step 10 - Packing the cabbage in the canning jars
Remove the spice bag, then fill the jars. This is called "hot packing"! Fill the jars with cabbage, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Pack the jars fairly tightly, but be sure to leave ¼-inch of space at the TOP of the jar. That is called "headspace" and is needed for expansion during heating in the water bath.
Step 11 - Pour boiling cooking liquid into each packed jar
Use a ladle or pyrex measuring cup to carefully fill each packed jar with the hot vinegar solution, again allowing ½-inch headspace. The cabbage should be covered and there should still be 1/2 inch of airspace left in the top of each jar. Be careful not to burn yourself, (or anyone else - children should be kept back during this step!)
Step 12 - Put the lids and rings on
Put the lids on each jar and seal them by putting a ring on and screwing it down snugly (but not with all your might, just "snug").
Step 13 - Put the jars in the canner and the lid on the canner
Using the jar tongs, put the jars on the rack in the canner. Make sure the tops of the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water.
Step 14 - Process for 20 minutes*
The chart below will help you determine the right processing time and pressure, if you have a different type of canner, or are above sea level. For most people, using a plain open water bath canner, the time will be 20 minutes. You can use either a plain water bath canner OR a pressure canner, since the vinegar adds so much acidity (if you can vegetables other than tomatoes without adding vinegar, you must use a pressure canner).
Step 15 - Remove the jars
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool on a wooden cutting board or a towel, without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight), here they won't be bumped. You can then remove the rings if you like. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok. You're done!
Pickle Making Problems?
Some questions are answered at the bottom of this page. See this page for a more complete set of frequently asked pickling questions and answers
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is it safe to can cabbage in a traditional water bath? If so how long do you do process them?
A. PICKLED cabbage, Yes! The vinegar adds the needed acidity to make it safe.
Non- pickled (i.e., no vinegar added), NO.. Quoting from the Ohio State University Extension's Fact Sheet:
And Clemson University provides these questions and answers:
Salt and sugar are not preservatives for vegetables: they are added to stabilize and improve flavor, but will not prevent spoilage.
Salicylic acid is also NOT a preservative. The University of Illinois reports:
Think of it like smoking. We all know someone who smoke their entire life and lived to be 90. But the cemeteries are filled with the vast majority who didn't. You'll hear people say "my grandmother did it that way for 20 years". But of course, the people who died from food poisoning aren't around and often didn't have descendents to tell their tale...
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This page was updated on 23-Apr-2012
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