Sweet 'n' Sour Cabbage ♥ Recipe

Today's vegetable recipe: Cooked cabbage in a sweet and sour sauce with ground caraway. Inexpensive to make and filling. Traditional fare from Eastern Europe.

VEGETABLES ARE NOW COOL American readers, check the produce section in your local supermarket -- there will be new labels, 'COOL labels' they're called, where COOL stands for Country of Origin Labeling. The 2002 Farm Bill requires that food retailers (groceries, not restaurants) begin labeling the source of many foods, including produce and many meats, beginning September 30th of this year. So now we'll know -- if we want to -- that October's asparagus comes from somewhere in South America and August's oranges from southern Africa. (More about COOL on BlogHer, September 30: The Day Your Grocery Store Gets Cool.)

My own observation is that the stores are labeling vegetables, but in different ways. If a bunch of beets, say, has a twist tie, the label's on the twist, so very hard to get to. If the corn is wrapped in plastic, the label's there. If the produce is loose, loose onions say, then there's a label near the price. I fear, however, that diligence will be lax, unless we consumers choose to pay attention and prod our grocers to get it right. When I asked a produce stocker this week about the labels, his answer was, "Labels? I've been on vacation. Organic vegetables are fresher." (Hmm, alot like politicians, answering another question, not the one that was asked.)

What are you seeing for labels? Do you care? Will labels affect your buying decisions?

CABBAGE IS COOL, TOO Whole generations refuse to eat cabbage, after eating nothing but cabbage during hard times. Well, hard times are here and at $.69 or less a pound, cabbage is a great choice for frugal grocery shoppers.

The recipe for Sweet 'n' Sour Cabbage was inspired by a recent meal at the Westchester Inn in Chicago, which serves up Bohemian / Czech food, delicious stuff, including rabbit in a sour cream gravy. Talk about a feast: for $10 - $13, an entree comes with a soup or tomato juice; dumplings or potatoes; sauerkraut; a vegetable or sweet 'n' sour cabbage; bread and butter; coffee and strudel for dessert -- and on the weekends, a complimentary glass of wine! I'm stuffed, again, just seeing the list! I loved the sweet 'n' sour cabbage and couldn't wait to get home to re-create it.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes plus occasional stirring
Time to table: about 30 minutes
Serves 6 for OPTION ONE, serves 4 for OPTION TWO

Salted water to cover
1 pound cabbage, cut in wedges
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut in chunks on the diagonal

Bring the water to a boil. Add cabbage and carrots and cook until done. Drain. If you like, chop the cabbage into bite-size pieces. Set vegetables aside while making the sauce.

1 tablespoon bacon grease (or olive oil or another fat)
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 pound cabbage, chopped in 1-inch pieces

In a large skillet, heat fat til shimmery on MEDIUM HIGH. Add onion and cabbage as they're prepped, stirring well to coat with fat. Cook until soft, stirring often.

1 tablespoon bacon grease or butter (if using OPTION TWO, omit this)
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground caraway
1 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

For OPTION ONE: In a saucepan or the drained cabbage cooking pot, heat the bacon grease or butter until shimmery on MEDIUM. Stir in the flour, sugar and caraway and let cook for a minute or two (this cooks out the flouriness). A tablespoon at a time, add the milk, stirring in each tablespoon before adding another. Stir in the vinegar. Stir in the cooked cabbage and carrots, warm through. Stir in salt and pepper. Let cook for another 5 - 10 minutes. Serve.

For OPTION TWO: Sprinkle the cabbage with flour, sugar and caraway, stir to coat and let cook for a minute or two (this cooks out the flouriness). A tablespoon at a time, add the milk, stirring in each tablespoon before adding another. Stir in the vinegar. Stir in salt and pepper. Let cook for another 5 - 10 minutes. Serve.

I made this twice, cooking the cabbage with two different techniques. The first time, I cooked cabbage wedges and carrot pieces together in well-salted water. The second time, I sautéed chopped cabbage in bacon grease in a skillet. I like the relative cooked-ness (is that a word?!) of the first technique, also the color from the carrots. But I'm biased toward one-pot vegetable recipes, easier on the clean-up. So. Either one will work, cook's choice.
Don't skip the caraway, it really adds.
The cabbage reheats beautifully so could easily be made ahead for serving later or another day.

~ Cape Breton Cabbage ~
~ Swedish Red Cabbage ~
~ Peasant Cabbage Tomato Soup ~
(Just this week, a reader wrote this about the soup, "I know this is an old thread, but I just stumbled upon it, and made my first ever pot of cabbage soup tonight. I will admit I was skeptical at the sparse list of ingredients, but I was proved wrong. Mmmmm, tasty! My husband, who is soup-picky, really enjoyed it too. Lovely blog. Thanks for sharing." Thank YOU, Rachel!)

~ more cabbage recipes ~
~ more Weight Watchers recipes ~
~ more low-carb recipes ~

PRINT JUST A RECIPE! Now you can print a recipe without wasting ink and paper on the header and sidebar. Here's how.

Looking for healthy ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous Alphabet of Vegetables. Healthy eaters will love the low carb recipes and the Weight Watchers recipes.
© Copyright 2008

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I live in Prague, and it's amazing how many people get carraway and cumin mixed up. The Czech name for carraway is 'kmín', which gets translated pretty much everywhere (even on product packaging) as 'cumin'. Cumin is hardly available here at all, while carraway is in almost everything (including one of my favourites - potatoes boiled with carraway seeds and covered in butter. Yum!).
    Thank you for getting it right! :)

  2. I'm very happy to see COOL in our stores – and yes, labels always have an impact on what I buy. I like knowing where our food comes from (for quality and environmental reasons), so I generally buy my produce from small local grocery stores or from farmers markets. When passing through the produce section of a grocery store, I always notice the town (if listed) and Country of Origin. General rule of thumb - The closer to home, the more likely I'll buy.

    Thank you for your COOL post, and for the cabbage recipes as well. It's one of those healthy, nutritious cruciferous vegetables we can always have more of!

  3. This sounds delicious, I also love sweet and sour cabbage soup!

  4. I bought cabbage just to make the cabbage soup, and now you post this! We made the one-skillet cauliflower a couple of nights ago - it was perfect! I liked the crumb topping.

  5. We tried your cabbage in a sweet and sour sauce ...and it was awesome!!!!!!!

  6. This looks delicious and I can't wait to try it!

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna