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Turkish Pickled Red Cabbage

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A true burst of vibrant colour. Just look at that pop of magenta! Pickled red cabbage is one side dish that we just can’t get enough of.

If you’re in the same boat, there’s good news! Our Turkish recipe is super easy and will satisfy those pickled red cabbage cravings.

Turkish Pickled Red Cabbage
Our recipe makes two big glass jars

Because I do crave it on occasion.

Fortunately, living in Turkey, that’s not much of a problem.

Turkish pickling culture is very much alive and well!

Mixed pickled vegetables, as well as pickled red cabbage and beetroot, are very much an integral part of the Turkish diet.

Turkish pickled red cabbage oft appears on the dining tables of all types of eateries.

From restaurants to the tiny makeshift tables set up around street food stands and kiosks.

Each place has its own recipe, using a variety of ingredients for the vinegar mixture.

Chillies, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, lemon, salt, sugar. The taste can differ from delicate and mild, to a wonderfully strong, tangy flavour.

Strong and tangy flavours every time in our house!

How To Enjoy A Pickled Red Cabbage Side Dish

In different countries around the world, there are people enjoying pickled red cabbage along the top of their hot dogs.

Sauerkraut and a bratwurst, we can get with. But hot dogs and pickled red cabbage; that’s a no from us personally.

In England, however, there’s a big yes from us. This recipe is a perfect addition to our plateful of homemade meat and potato pie.

Pickled Red Cabbage Side Dish
A perfect accompaniment to meat and potato pie

I think this is where my love of it came from.

And we guess that’s why our easy pickled red cabbage recipe is often in our minds when we’re making Christmas foods.

We get the red cabbage pickled so that we can enjoy it with our pie at New Year; an annual tradition for many in England.

And one of the few English foodie traditions we continue with here in Turkey.

And Here In Mediterranean Turkey

Well, Turkey is where we really get to feed our love of pickled red cabbage.

Or should we say purple cabbage?

Surely that makes more sense. And the Turkish language agrees, too.

Mor lahana (purple cabbage) is what you need to look for when you’re shopping for it at the local pazar (markets).

At The Pazar

And here at the markets of southwest Mediterranean Turkey, we love nothing more than heading to Çalış Sunday Market and ordering a lunch treat of gözleme and frothy ayran.

Pickled Red Cabbage With Gözleme
A side dish of pickle is perfect with gözleme

We always make sure there is a side dish of pickled red cabbage.

Or, even better, a huge plastic tub of it on the table so we can help ourselves as we go along.

Working our way through each crispy, meat and potato-filled pastry square. Folding it over the salty, tangy crunch of the cabbage.

With Seafood

Away from the pazar, it might not seem an obvious choice but we can very much vouch for this next offering.

Often, when you order a balık ekmek (a half bread filled with fish), you will either get Turkish pickled red cabbage as part of the salad filling, or you will get it as a side serving.

Fish Sandwich
An Istanbul half bread filled with fried hamsi

When we go to Karaköy fish market in Istanbul, we always order fried hamsi in bread.

And that comes packed with pickled crunchy shredded cabbage. It’s a perfect combo!

At Mezgit Cafe on Fethiye harbour, we get a lightly pickled red cabbage as a small side salad when we order our battered fish in bread.

And More

And you’ll see it in so many other situations in Turkey.

Look out for it in the salad bowls of restaurants.

And you’ll often get a complementary side dish of it in lokantas with chillies and lemon or other salad stuffs.

Oh, and of course, if you’re heading out to indulge in Turkey’s famous jacket potato street food, Ortaköy kumpir, by all means choose this pickle as one of your party of toppings!

Turkish Pickled Red Cabbage – FAQs

So, we know we can indulge in our love of pickled red cabbage when eating out in Turkey.

But when it comes to eating at home, at least in our area of Turkey, this particular type of pickle seems to have disappeared from the shelves of shops and supermarkets.

No problem, however.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know we prefer to make our own dishes where possible.

And we make good use of our pickled red cabbage recipe.

Homemade is always best. And if you do make your own, here’s a few questions answered:

How long will pickled cabbage keep?

If you keep your pickled red cabbage in a sealed plastic or glass jar in the fridge, it should keep for around 6 weeks.

We’ve never had to worry about that, however. The jars are empty well within that timeframe.

What do you eat pickled red cabbage with?

We gave you some ideas about what to eat your pickled red cabbage with, above.

We also make a yoghurt meze with it, similar to garlic yoghurt with carrots.

Mix it in salads or serve with cheeses and cold meats.

And if you get those same guilty pleasure cravings that I get, just help yourself to a few spoonfuls from the jar.

Is red cabbage a superfood?

We all love a superfood, don’t we?

We told you in our mixed pickled recipe that pickles are good for us. And red cabbage gives us a double whammy.

Superfood or not, red cabbage is packed with nutrients – many more than green cabbage.

Embrace the purple!

Our Easy Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe

Making this recipe is so easy.

The only equipment you need is:

  • a long sharp knife
  • a plastic tub or glass jar (lots of Turkish people use clear plastic tubs with handles on the lids for ease of manoeuvre)
  • a colander
  • a pan
Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe
Salting the red cabbage removes excess water and tenderises the leaves

Cut The Cabbage

First of all, we use our sharp knife to cut the cabbage into quarters, lengthways. Then we remove the stalk and heart from the bottom of each quarter.

We then place each quarter horizontally to us and slice thin strips across each quarter.

Some people do shredded cabbage but we like a few crunchy slices in there.

Salt The Cabbage

Then we salt the cabbage.

Just a few twists of the salt grinder. Toss the cabbage around. And then another few twists.

Depending on how much time you have, leave your red cabbage in your colander over the sink or a bowl for anything between one hour and overnight.

Don’t stress over the amount of time. The flavour and texture of your pickled cabbage will only have a subtle difference.

If you have other things going on in the kitchen at the time, leave the cabbage in the salt and deal with it when you’re ready.

But do leave for at least one hour. This helps the cabbage to release water and tenderise the leaves.

Bring The Pickle Vinegar Mixture To The Boil

Infusing The Vinegar
Heating the vinegar allows the spices to infuse

On to your pickle vinegar mixture…

And this is where you can get creative to suit your taste.

Many pickled red cabbage vinegar ingredients contain apple cider vinegar and / or red wine vinegar.

We’re in Turkey and here’s a great way to make use of Turkish ingredients.

We get perfectly-moreish and tangy pickled red cabbage by using a mix of grape vinegar (üzüm sirkesi) and apple vinegar (elma sirkesi) in our mix.

Our favourite mix of flavours for the vinegar are: a few coriander seeds, a few fennel seeds, a little grated ginger, sugar, salt and pepper.

Feel free to add a couple of bay leaves, too, if you like.

Bay leaf is a popular ingredient in other parts of the world. But not one that we use as we never see them used in the pickles here.

And, as we’re doing Turkish pickled red cabbage, we’re adding a good pinch of chilli flakes (pul biber).

Turkish Pickled Red Cabbage – Quick & Easy Recipe

Pickled red cabbage is hugely popular in Turkey. And the great news is, it's quick and easy to make. We can't get enough of it.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Turkish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Salting Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 2 750 ml jars
Calories 150kcal
Author Turkey’s For Life

Equipment

  • 2 Glass jars approx 750 mls each, sterilised
  • 1 Colander
  • 1 Saucepan
  • 1 Sharp knife

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo red cabbage any loose outer leaves removed
  • 1 tablespoon salt for salting the red cabbage
  • 1 litre grape vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • ½ litre apple vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger peeled & grated or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes optional
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • salt & pepper to season

Instructions

  • First of all, use your sharp knife to cut your cabbage into quarters, lengthways through the stem.
  • Now, remove hard white heart and stem from the bottom of each quarter.
  • Take one quarter and place it side on to you, flat side down. Slice it thinly.
  • When you have sliced two of the quarters, place them into your colander and sprinkle half the salt over the cabbage.
  • Now repeat with the rest of the red cabbage, slicing it and placing it into the colander.
  • Sprinkle with the rest of the salt, toss around so that all the cabbage shreds are coated and place over the sink or a bowl. Leave for at least 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, add your vinegar mixture to a saucepan, including your herbs, spices and seasoning.
  • Bring the vinegar to the boil and then remove from the heat and allow to cool, fully.
  • When you're ready, give the cabbage a squeeze with your hands and share it between your two jars.
  • Pour the vinegar mixture into the two jars and seal.
  • Your pickles will be ready to eat within 24 hours but will have a more tangy flavour after 48 hours.

Notes

  • This Turkish pickled red cabbage recipe makes two jars. The calorie count is per glass jar. 
  • You can sterilise your jars by pouring boiling water into them. 
  • Leave your cabbage to salt for at least one hour. Salting removes water from the cabbage and tenderises the leaves making your pickles taste stronger.
  • You can leave the cabbage to salt for longer if you like. We usually start the process in the morning and make the pickles late afternoon.
  • Your cabbage will last up to 6 weeks in the fridge and will be ready to eat after 24 hours, although the flavours will be stronger if you can wait another day or so. 

Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe – Afternotes

  • This recipe is a great way to indulge a pickle craving because it’s so quick to make. A 24-hour wait and you can open that jar and start to enjoy it in whichever way you like.
  • This recipe is part of our list of favourite recipes that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
  • If you’re looking for other ideas for what to serve your pickled red cabbage with, take a look at our list of Turkish recipes and make a meal of it.

Afiyet Olsun!

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