Monday, May 19, 2014

Sour Cabbage Cabbage Rolls



About 40 or 45 years ago I was a guest at a wedding reception.  It was a buffet meal and the only item I remember are the cabbage rolls, the taste of  which is still very fresh in my memory even after all these years!
 I remember the flavour explosion in my mouth when I took my first bite,  recognizing that the flavour was in the cabbage.
 I tried to find the chef who could give me the recipe but I had no success .
Last week I was reading about a company in Saskatchewan that makes sour cabbage heads and I wondered ..."what would it taste like if I used the sour cabbage leaves for my cabbage rolls?"

I found the sour cabbage heads at Safeway and made my cabbage rolls.
I will never use green cabbage again.
Not only is there the 'taste' advantage but making the cabbage rolls is sooo easy.  No need to freeze or boil to soften the cabbage leaves.   They peel off easily and perfectly and are soft and supple.

So this post is not so much to share a recipe but to share this sour cabbage 'tip' for those of you who would enjoy the extra zip in the cabbage.
 I know we have several cabbage roll recipes on our blog and  those who grew up eating cabbage rolls have their favourite family  recipe but just in case you want/need another  I will include my version  here, which is gluten free.


Cabbage Rolls (Holubschi)

**NOTE -  if using the sour cabbage - peel off the leaves  and immerse them in a large bowl of cool water -  you need to wash off the salt brine so cabbage rolls are not too salty.
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef 
  • 1 pound ground pork 
  • (optional)  a few strips bacon cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups sprouted brown rice (cooked)  - or regular cooked rice
  • 1 lg finely chopped onion 
  • 2 tbsp of parsley 
  • salt and pepper to taste (if using sour cabbage leaves add very little extra salt) 
  • 1  - 14 oz tin of tomato sauce 
  • 1 - 8 oz tin of  tomato paste 
  • water
  1. Mix thoroughly meat, rice, onion, parsley, salt and pepper 
  2. Place a  scoop of meat mixture onto a cabbage leaf that has been cut in two or three pieces depending on size of cabbage head and size of leaves, and the hard stem part cut out --   fold up bottom of leaf over meat , fold in sides and roll it over the top part of leaf making a nice firm wrap around the filling ...   place last folded side facing down in  baking dish that is at least 2" deep.  (my dish is 11 x 14") 
  3. When your dish is full of cosily placed rolls -  one layer only - then blend together the tomato sauce and tomato paste with enough water to completely cover the cabbage rolls.  Cover dish with tin foil or a lid if dish has one. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 or 3 hours.   
  5. These freeze well before or after baking.  
Tip --  Even when I make a large dish of cabbage rolls I usually have some meat left over and the small leaves of the cabbage head.   An easy way to use that up is to cover the bottom of a baking dish with cabbage leaves, spread the meat filling  and then another layer of cabbage leaves... cover with tomato sauce/paste/water  -  cover tightly and freeze   until needed.  Remove from freezer, thaw and bake.

24 comments:

  1. I have never heard of sour cabbage heads! Must do some research - I love cabbage.

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  2. Just this week a colleague gave me a recipe for cabbage rolls made with sour cabbage. I've never even noticed sour cabbage in the grocery store, but I guess it's there. Her cabbage rolls were just as you've described - the best ever!

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  3. My husband grew up in that area of Saskatchewan and has been making his cabbage rolls with sour cabbage for years. We love them. This recipe sounds great.

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  4. Our family prefers the sour cabbage for cabbage rolls...I have been making them for years! I use a can of tomato soup diluted with chicken broth to tone down the acidity of the sour cabbage.

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  5. That looks so delicious. I had seen it before, but I have never tried it. Thank you so much for the recipe !!

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  6. This is the only way I ever make cabbage rolls - it's a family tradition that we eat them on Christmas Eve.

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  7. Does the sour cabbage need to be rinsed or soaked before rolled, I would imagine it would be quite salty?

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    1. Anonymous ... as I noted in my post I do recommend rinsing them. I didn't the first time I used the Kissel Sour Cabbage and found the leaves just a bit too salty .. they were perfect the second time I made them when I just rinsed the leaves in cool water before using them.

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  8. My family makes cabbage rolls with sour cabbage, but with a rice and bacon interior and NO sauce! They're amazing when cooked but even better when fried up the next morning and served with eggs. Frying them seems to bring out the sourness! In a fantastic way. When in a rush, you can use jarred sour kraut to make lazy cabbage rolls too. The tradition has been passed along from my great grandmother I think. Probably farther back than that. Best part of every family get together is eating these sour cabbage rolls and sharing the stories of who made them and who was demoted from cabbage rolls duty because of their rolling technique! My husband was demoted four years ago and will never live it down!

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  9. We buy ours from a local greenhouse who is owned by a family that krauts their own cabbage. The store bought stuff is ok but often leaves parts tough and not fully krauted. For tight rolling, you may need to trim the ribs off the leaves. If it's a really well done head though, you won't need to! Then, put all the cut ribs on top of your cabbage rolls and you've got some extra bits of flavour!ou don't need to rinse the cabbage

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    1. Hi Sarah, thank you for you comments ! I'm going to try your rice/bacon rolls - I'm sure they are good ! And while I found the Kissel sour cabbage heads beautiful to work with, I am considering making my own sour cabbage heads, since it would be a lot cheaper and you can freeze extra heads for future use.

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  10. Oh, and sour cabbage rolls are traditionally quite small. One large sour cabbage leaf is often cut into 3-4 pieces before being rolled!

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  11. My Ukrainian grandmother always made sour cabbage rolls, usually with rice only but occasionally with a bit of bacon. Like Sarah, her rolls were tiny, perfect and - NO sauce :) She canned her own sour leaves.

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  12. My Mother-in-law only makes hers this way and they are by far the best cabbage rolls we have ever eaten. They are a staple of any meal she hosts and always a part of her gift at Christmas lol.

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  13. Tried these tonight and the only thing I did different was I added fried butter and onions to the rice mixture and used tomato juice rather than tomato sauce and tomato paste! My family gave it two thumbs up and said its a "make again" recipie!!!

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  14. First time making sour cabbage rolls. I missed the part about rinsing cabbage in water before rolling. They are very salty. Next time will rinse in water.

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  15. The left over mixture on the bottom (if you put the extra leaves or core under to keep the cabbage rolls from burning) if added to soup makes a great soup.and if the cabbage is sour even better.

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  16. Late to the party here, but my grandmother's recipe calls for mixing the tomato sauce in with the meat filling, making the cabbage rolls, then covering the whole pan with regular shredded sauerkraut before baking. Very tidy. Much, much tastier.

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  17. I'm making these (again) today! I make a tomato sauce from scratch and add some dill to the meat mixture though ;) We prefer the sour cabbage too, I've made them with regular cabbage and they sucked lol.. Actually I've tried many different recipes and this is by far the best - I didn't grow up with these so I don't have a coveted family recipe, unfortunately.

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    1. I'm glad you like them ! adding dill sounds like a good addition! I'll try it.. thank you

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  18. Never tasted anything so good. Thank you Menonite girls for sharing the recipe! Love you.

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  19. how many rolls do you get from a head of sour cabbage? i'm not sure how many to buy. I usually make the rolls with regular cabbage and then put a layer of sauerkraut over the top of the rolls and sauce when I bake it - but boiling the cabbage head to soften and remove the leaves is a pain! I know my grandma made them with the sour cabbage heads so today is the day I give it a try! thanks for the recipe and all the input!

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    1. I have never counted how many rolls I get from one cabbage head.. and it does depend too on what size you make them -- the best estimate I can give you is that I find that the sour cabbage heads go further than a regular cabbage head. I used to add the sauerkraut too but using the sour cabbage makes that unnecessary. And yes ... the sour heads come 'ready and so pliable' -- no mess and fuss with softening as with the reg. cabbage ..YEAH!! I hope you enjoy them !

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  20. I also will be using the Kissel brand heads (from my last comment)

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