Fermenting Basics: Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe

purple cabbage

If pickled cucumbers are the extent of your experience with pickled vegetables, you’re missing out on some wonderful tastes and nutrition.

This recipe for pickled cabbage is a foundational recipe in that you can replace the cabbage with any other vegetable of your choice. Over time, you can experiment with the use of herbs and spices to create a more aromatic and delicious result. Enjoy!

There are many ways to get healthy bacteria in your diet, from the likes of such concoctions as kefir or kombucha, but pickled vegetables are probably the easiest way to do it yourself. Pickled vegetables are created by a fermentation process, which yields incredible health benefits. Fermenting vegetables increases their vitamins and digestibility, providing anti-carcinogenic and antibiotic benefits as well as increasing the proliferation of healthy flora in the intestines. Typically, this process involves storing vegetables in a brine for a few days until the carbohydrates and proteins break down and microorganisms, such as friendly bacteria, develop. These bacteria are so beneficial, they are considered probiotics and help to improve overall nutrition, from digestion to immune function. Try this pickled cabbage recipe out and then take it to the next level with your own tweaks and additions, or try out a homemade version of a Korean staple, kimchi. Bon Appetit!

Pickled Red Cabbage

Makes about 2 cups


  • 1 red cabbage head
  • 2-3 tablespoons sea salt
  • Room temperature water


Peel off 2-3 pieces of the outer layer of the cabbage and set aside. You will use them later to seal the jars.


Chop off and toss the stem of the cabbage. Slice the cabbage into thin strips. Place into a bowl and with clean hands, massage the salt into the pieces. Continue to do so for about 2-3 minutes.


In one large mason jar or a few smaller glass jars, add the cabbage pieces. With each addition, use a mortar to pound the pieces into the bottom of the jar. This helps to extract the juices and create room for more cabbage slices. Continue this process until you reach the top of the jar. With about 1 inch remaining to where the lid will go, slowly pour water into the jar so that it reaches the crevices between the pieces and doesn’t simply just float above the cabbage. Once the water reaches the top of the chopped cabbage, take the whole leaves you removed earlier, fold them, and insert them flat on top of the sliced cabbage. It is important that all the cabbage is completely submerged in the water. The folded whole leaves at the top will act as a seal. Close the lid of the jar, but keep it slightly ajar or not fully sealed.


Store in a dark, dry place at room temperature for 3-5 days or until you begin to see bubbles form. Drain before eating. Add to your salads for an extra probiotic boost. Enjoy!


Photo Credit: quinn.anya, GlowKitchen