German Style Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage is a combination of sweet, sour, and savory flavors along with fresh apples. Ready to eat in 35 to 40 minutes it makes a tasty low-calorie, low-fat vegetable side.
How to make German Style Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
German Style Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage was served often during the winter in my childhood home. Mom, being German, made it pretty much the same way all the time, with minor variances. Cabbage, bacon fat, apples, onions, red wine vinegar, sugar…you know, sweet and sour along with some savory elements. Mom didn't cook her cabbage to death either, leaving it with just a bit of textured crunchiness. It's all good stuff.
Ingredients for German Style Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
- Red Cabbage
- Apples - you can use green or red apple. I like green for it's tartness. Red would be more sweet.
- Red Onion
- Fat - I prefer to use bacon fat for extra flavor, but you could use olive oil or butter or a combo.
- Red Wine
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Bay leaf
- Alspice - or clove
Why use bacon fat?
Everyone use to keep their bacon fat.
In a small container, in the refrigerator.
Bacon fat could be used to flavor all kinds of dishes without actually having to buy and cook up the bacon. All the flavor, none of the work. No one keeps bacon fat anymore.
Well, almost no one. I do. But then, I'm odd that way.
I have a few recipes using white cabbage, such as Apple Onion Braised Cabbage with Bacon, but this particular preparation really is much better using red.
I like using a tart apple such as Granny Smith or a Lodi Apple. You can use red apples as well. If using red apples stick to varieties such as Honeycrisp, Braeburn, or Jonathan.
While explained further below, the simple answer is no, you don't have to use bacon fat. While I feel it adds a lot of extra flavor, you could use olive oil, vegetable oil, or butter. Or even a combination of any or all of these.
Again the simple answer is no, although the wine does add flavor. If using wine use a dry red wine, like a Merlot, Malbec, Cianti, or Sangiovese. Remember, the alcohol will cook off leaving only the flavor. If you choose not to use wine, you can use chicken stock, vegetable broth, or even water.
But really Fat is FAT
When I tell people I save bacon fat, chicken fat, and duck fat, they think I'm a crazy lady.
But seriously, fat is fat.
Calorie for calorie it's all the same. 100 calories per tablespoon. It's just a matter of how much is saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat.
Bacon fat obviously has more saturated fat than does olive oil, or another vegetable oil, but they obviously don't have the same flavor as bacon fat. So while I'm not advocating that you use bacon fat on a regular basis, sometimes, it's a good "go-to" fat.
And if you glance over at the nutritional information I've provided, you can see there is a total of 2g of fat in this dish. In total. So what the heck, you may as well add the bacon fat. If you don't have a container in your refrigerator and you wanted the bacon flavor, you could fry up a few slices of bacon, remove it from the pan, and then just use the pan drippings to sauté the vegetables to add that depth of flavor…or you could use butter (also a saturated fat) or heck, go ahead and use that olive oil or coconut oil. It just won't have that smoky bacony goodness.
It will still be good. Honest. I've made my sweet and sour cabbage with and without. I prefer with. But it's good without.
Without also keeps it vegetarian.
So let's make some now...
German Style Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage goes perfectly with a number of dishes but is perfect with Lindy's Favorite Meatloaf, Homemade Salisbury Steak with Gravy, and Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops jump immediately into my mind. Tell me which is your favorite go-with dish.
German Style Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
- 2 pounds 1 small head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ⅔ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons bacon fat or butter, or olive oil
- 2 medium apples * cored and cut into large dice (or slices)
- 1 red onion cut in half vertically then sliced vertically into thin slices (OK I'll admit you can cut the onion any way you would like, but this just fits well with the cabbage. You could dice the onion or thinly slice on the horizontal - whatever floats your boat)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves if you don't have allspice
- 1 bay leaf torn
- ¼ cup dry red wine optional (if you don't want to use the wine, use water or some vegetable or chicken stock in its place)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Mix the cabbage, sugar, and vinegar together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a large sauté pan with a lid, melt the bacon fat (or butter, or oil, or combination of all or any) until hot, add the apples and onions and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage mixture along with the wine, spices, and a large pinch of salt; cover; reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, taste and adjust vinegar and sugar levels if needed; then increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. (If you like your cabbage more well done, then cover and cook until it's done to your liking before you cook off the additional liquids). Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, remove the bay leaf pieces and serve.