Sep 14

Piquant Red Cabbage and Apple Relish

Fall has started, everywhere except Houston where it is still hot and swampy, and it’s time to start breaking out the Autumnal recipes. Since my experiment with Hatch Chile Relish went well the other week and there is none left, I went on a supermarket trip looking for seasonal, ‘cheap’ vegetables to make other relishes or pickles. There were plenty of red cabbages and since it already goes well pickled as an accompaniment to pork, sausages etc, I knew I could come up with a relish that would work well with meats and cheeses.

The funny thing about red cabbage is that it isn’t really red until it is cooked in acid. It starts off purple, changing to pink and only after cooking does it change to a deep dark red. The reason for this colour change is due to pigments in the red cabbage called anthocyanins. An interesting experiment is to use red cabbage to test pH levels as it will turn blue or green in alkaline conditions.

Spicy Red Cabbage and Apple Relish

Spicy Red Cabbage and Apple Relish

This relish recipe marries the natural sweetness of red cabbage, with the sharpness of Granny Smith apples and some spicyness from the chile, and it has a little influences from Indian relishes from the fenugreek and cumin seeds. It is sweet, sour, salty and spicy all at the same time. I am looking forward to trying it with some cheese soon or with grilled pork.

Spicy Red Cabbage and Apple Relish

This recipe makes approx 2 jars. To make more, just increase the quantities accordingly.


  • Half a head of red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Serrano or other hot chile, chopped
  • 1 tsp of fenugreek (Kasuri methi)
  • 1 tsp of whole cumin seeds
  • Pickling Vinegar
  • 0.5 cup (100g) of granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
Red Cabbage Relish Ingredients

Red Cabbage Relish Ingredients


  1. Prepare the vegetables and add to a large saucepan.
  2. Toast the cumin seeds and fenugreek in a skillet for about a minute to help release the aromas and then add with the vegetables with the salt.
  3. Pour the vinegar to about half way up the vegetables. Normally I would just cover the vegetables with vinegar, but the red cabbage will reduce in volume quite quickly.

    Red Cabbage Relish at the start of cooking

    Red Cabbage Relish at the start of cooking

  4. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid has nearly evaporated. Be careful not to allow the relish to burn.
  5. Once the liquid has nearly evaporated add the sugar. Stir and then allow the relish to thicken again. Remove from the heat once all the liquid has evaporated and the consistency is thick and ‘jammy’. Check for seasoning.

    Red Cabbage Relish at the end of cooking

    Red Cabbage Relish at the end of cooking

  6. Decant into sterilized jars and seal.
  7. Leave for a day or so for the flavour to mellow.
  8. Enjoy as an accompaniment to grilled meats, with cheese or even just spread on bread as a snack.


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