Low Salt Fermented Red Cabbage

beautiful slice through a red cabbage

Fermented vegetables are the in thing, and very good for us. However I did not eat them much until I came up with this. There are two issues with the classic fermented cabbage recipes like saurkraut and kimchi. First they are a bit slimy. I can live with that, and in some uses that is what you want. The main problem is they are very high in salt. Having high blood pressure, I am trying to avoid unnecessary salt. Fermenting in brine in the Ukrainian way keeps red cabbage crunchy, and halving the salt in the brine from traditional recipes seems to cause no problems.


  • ½ a red cabbage
  • 1 red chilli (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 litre water
  • 1½ tbsp salt
a Kilner jar of pickled a red cabbage

Cut a red cabbage in half and you have a beautiful piece of abstract art. Admire it while you make your brine. For the brine, dissolve the salt in one litre of water. Do not heat it, as it will not make it dissolve any faster. Half a red cabbage makes a couple of Kilner jars full. Cut the cabbage in quarters and slice finely. If you like, mix in a finely sliced red chilli and a couple of cloves of chopped garlic. Pack the cabbage mix in to the jars leaving 3 cm space at the top. Fill with brine to cover. You may need a second batch of brine - I always make it a litre at a time as it is easier to remember the quantities and that is the size of my measuring jug.

The cabbage needs to stay covered by brine, as exposed pieces can go mouldy. There are fancy glass weight available, but I have never got on with them. The best method is to sit a small food bag in the top of the jar and fill it with more brine. Cover the jars and leave at room temperature for 3-4 days. Once a day unseal the lid to release any gas. The cabbage should go a vivid red and get a good acidity. Leave it in the brine until you need it. It will keep a few weeks in the fridge.

colourful mixed slaw

Winter Slaw


  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • the same quantity of pickled red cabbage
  • the same quantity of sliced raw red cabbage
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Just toss it all together!