Braised Red Cabbage


red cabbage served very cropped

We all have a stash of these recipes, don’t we? Torn out of a newspaper 30 years ago, shoved into a bag or box, or within the pages of our Joy of Cooking. Written on and well used, but not quite memorized. This recipe was a Christmas tradition from my friend Denise. It made the cooking section of the local Duluth newspaper. I was quite impressed!


Cabbage is well known to have a long, unrefrigerated, storage life…if you follow just a couple basic procedures.  Don’t chop it with a knife, unless you’re using the whole head. Tear each outer leaf off individually as needed and hang the remaining head in your galley net or some other well ventilated space.

peeling the leaves

This recipe happens to use a whole head of red cabbage, so chop away!  Just take a moment to look at how absolutely beautiful a chopped head of red cabbage is. Rich hues of purple, streamed in veins of white. Nature’s art.

beautiful cabbage

Braised Red Cabbage

1 head red cabbage, chopped
1 tart (Granny Smith or similar) apple, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 pieces of cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon bacon fat
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar (or white wine)
1 bay leaf
6-10 black peppercorns
1+ tablespoons cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a large pot on low  burner. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off burner and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

ingredients in pot

The traditional recipe uses vinegar. Not surprisingly the only similar substitute I could find on board was white wine. (Ooops! ; ) It works just as well, but softens the “kick” of vinegar a bit. Best to add a little extra salt and sugar if using white wine instead of vinegar.

red cabbage best 2

Whether served on your holiday buffet or as a regular winter side dish, this red cabbage recipe easily adapts to any sailor’s meal.

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