Side Dishes

Sour Cabbage

There is almost always a crock of this straightforward, classic fermented cabbage going at my house. I never want to run out.


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Excerpted from South by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards.


Sour Cabbage

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Makes 4 quarts
  • Equipment: 1-gallon stoneware pickling crock; Nylon mesh or cheesecloth


  • 3 medium heads green cabbage (about 2 pounds each), with dark green outer leaves
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

Recipe Steps

1: Wash and dry the cabbage. Pull off the outer leaves. Stack the leaves a few at a time, roll them into cylinders, cut them into large ribbons, and transfer to a very large bowl. Cut the heads of cabbage into quarters and remove the cores. Slice the quarters crosswise into strips about ¼ inch wide and transfer to the bowl.

2: Add the salt to the cabbage and toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer the mixture to the pickling crock, pressing down to get all the cabbage in. Weight the cabbage down with an inverted plate to help keep it submerged in the liquid that will be released. Cover the crock with nylon mesh or a double layer of cheesecloth, securing it with butcher’s twine. Then cover the crock with a large plate.

3: Put the cabbage in a cool area with a maximum temperature of 75°F and let it ferment until pleasantly sour, about 2 weeks. Twice a week, remove the plate and mesh (or cheesecloth) and skim the top of the cabbage to remove any white scum, then replace the mesh and plate.

4: Drain the pickled cabbage, reserving the brine. Divide the cabbage among four clean 1-quart canning jars and add enough of the brine to fill them. Discard any extra brine. Wipe the rims and threads clean, place the lids and rings on the jars, and tighten the rings, then refrigerate. Tightly sealed, the cabbage will keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.

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Southern food is one of the most beloved and delicious cuisines in America. And who better to give us the key elements of Southern cuisine than Sean Brock, the award-winning chef and Southern-food crusader.

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