Stewed Cabbage with Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Cider Vinegar (Mock Sauerkraut)
Serves 4 to 6
A recipe for mock sauerkraut? Well, this is what happened. As you may already know, we love sauerkraut in PA Dutch country. However, it is very high in sodium, because the process of preserving the cabbage includes a salt brine. When my mother needed to go on a low-sodium diet, we had to be cautious and only indulge on rare occasions. She loved sauerkraut, and even I started to crave it. So I took on the challenge of devising a way to make fresh cabbage taste 'sour' without fermenting it in a brine. When I came up with this idea, I thought for certain the cabbage would just taste like vinegar. Much to my amazement, it worked perfectly. Even we who have eaten sauerkraut all of our lives could barely notice a difference. Mom was very happy. I have made this often as a main or side dish, with and without pork, and it is a must for the New Year's Day good luck dinner. Although it takes time to soak and cook, it is very easy because there is little hands-on work. If desired, it can be made ahead, refrigerated, then reheated on a busy night for a quick dinner. As a matter of fact, leftovers are equally delicious. The amount of salt you use depends on your preferences or dietary restrictions. However, even if you are not on a low-sodium diet, this is an easy homemade sauerkraut recipe you will want to try. For a heartier main dish, see the variation below with pork. Now that Mom is no longer with us, I do make regular sauerkraut on occasion, as in the similar and related recipes links, but I make this recipe most often.
- 1 medium head cabbage, about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds, shredded into 1/8 to 1/4-inch slices
- 4 cups cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 1 cup dry white wine or vermouth
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, cut into quarters
- 1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
- 1 large apple, cored and cut into 4 wedges
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons caraway seed
- 8 juniper berries (optional, but very good)
Place the cabbage in a very large non-reactive bowl or pot. Add the vinegar and salt. Let stand for about 2 hours, tossing occasionally. Place in a colander and drain well. (For a milder vinegar taste, rinse with water and drain. However, it is the vinegar that makes this taste like sauerkraut.)
Place the drained cabbage and the remaining ingredients in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer about one hour. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. (The vinegar taste will mellow as the cabbage continues to cook.) Simmer another hour, until the cabbage is very tender. Serve immediately, or keep warm on a very low heat for up to 30 minutes. Serve with good rye bread with apple butter.
Variation: If desired, pork can be added to the cabbage for a heartier one pot meal. Use about 1-1/2 pounds of bone-in country-style pork ribs. Season with salt and pepper and brown in a little oil before adding the drained cabbage and remaining ingredients to the pot.