How to Can Crunchy Pickled Purple Cabbage Slaw

How to Can Crunchy Pickled Purple Cabbage Slaw

Add a crisp and savory tangy to salads, soups, sandwiches and sides with this simple purple cabbage slaw recipe that is bold, robust, and bright! Here’s how to can crunchy purple cabbage slaw so you can conveniently keep it right on your shelf.

Won’t Canned Cabbage be Mushy? Smelly? Gross?

Darlin’ –this is a reasonable suspicion that I had too. The words ‘canned’ and ‘cabbage’ weren’t a pair I’d ever think about putting together. I’m going to make the assumption that we’ve all likely had the unfortunate experience of eating swampy cabbage that was cooked too long. You end up with something limp, a funky smell wafting through your home, and sometimes a bitter taste. But when you’ve had good cabbage (which is cooked just until its fork tender) the taste and texture of cabbage can be surprisingly irresistible.

Well, it’s a good thing my suspicions were 100% wrong.

You can, can cabbage and have it turn out crunchy, juicy, and full of flavor using a pickling recipe that keeps retains a texture you’ll enjoy! It’s not smell, not mushy, not gross.

Purple Cabbage Slaw is Economical and Versatile…Don’t skip it!

If you can boil water and tell time, you can make this recipe! Truthfully, making a vinegar brined cabbage slaw is one of the easiest recipes for canning I can think of. It’s so simple that it doesn’t need any instructions, basically. I’m here to just to convince you to take the leap and try it so that you can experience the same shock (and satisifaction) that I have.

Here’s what this recipe give you:

  • a simple and tasty topping that compliments meats, casseroles, soups and more
  • a visually appealing alternative to green cabbage in coleslaw, sauerkraut or kimchi
  • an excellent source of fiber, which keeps your gut healthy and helps it digest foods more easily
  • a way to preserve cabbage without any special canning equipment

Recipe Tips to Keep Cabbage Crunchy when Canning

Canned pickled cabbage will keep it’s crunch if you use the following tips:

  1. Select only the freshest heads of cabbage for this recipe. The shorter time between picking and pickling, the crispier your cabbage will be. So, don’t use the ‘reduced for quick sale’ cabbages at the market, or older ones you’ve been storing if you want a quality result.
  2. A safe option for firming cabbage is to use Pickle Crisp, a product containing calcium chloride. This ingredient is pure and does not contain any added salt, sugar or preservatives.
  3. Make sure your cabbage heads are cold before starting. This helps expel a good chunk of excess moisture that’s hidden in the cabbage that would otherwise result in a soggy slaw.
  4. Consider steam canning (approved by the USDA as of 2015), instead of water bath canning. Many canners feel that their pickles and cabbage are crispier when the jars are not stewing in increasingly hotter temperatures as the water comes to a boil.
  5. Don’t skip (or skimp) on the pickling or canning salt in this recipe. Salt is what will preserve the cabbages distinctive crunch, because it draws out the water through osmosis. If you have the time, keep the cabbage in a salt soak for a full 24 hours in the fridge.

Lastly, this recipe may seem like its takin’ forever to make, but the actual hands on time is pretty nill. You chop a lot in the beginning and then just let it soak in salt overnight (or up to 24 hours), rinse and drain it, and wait for it to dry. So, make this on a lazy weekend or over a day or two when you’ll be around the house.

Recipes to Make with Pickled Purple Cabbage Slaw

Red Cabbage Slaw is often eaten on its own as a side dish. I’ve found ways to enjoy is at every meal, including the star ingredient in a cabbage slaw breakfast bowl, a topping on blue cheese and pear burgers, paired with brats or as a colorful condiment to a beef and rice bowl. Take a look at my video for meal-time inspiration!

Is this recipe approved as ‘safe’?

YES! That’s because I only share tested home canning recipes inspired from reputable sources. This recipe was adapted from the the book, ‘Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving’. I take safe canning practices very seriously, so this (and any) recipe that appears on my blog or YouTube channel will:

  1. Use only recipe methods that follow safe and science-based guidelines published by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Center for Home Food Preservation, and Jarden companies like Ball and Bernardin. 
  2. Source all information so that you can follow it back to the canning authorities where the recipe originated. I I want you to be a confident, informed canner too, so I’m very transparent about any modifications I include.

My goal with publicly sharing canning recipes is to inspire you to create your own healthier, better-tasting, and usually cheaper convenience foods. And, to show how canning food in the modern world still makes sense! Above all, I want you to be both safe and successful in your canning efforts. For this reason, I’ll always link to the approved NCHFP canning recipes and encourage you to make a small investment in purchasing the most updated preservation books and equipment I use in my own kitchen.

Crunchy Purple Cabbage Slaw

Eaten straight from the jar or mixed with mayo this crunchy pickled cabbage slaw uses minimal (and inexpensive) ingredients to great a beautiful and tasty garnish for soups, salads, toppings, and more!
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 5 pint jars


  • 6 lbs red cabbage (about 2 to 3 small heads)
  • 1/4 cup canning or pickling salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
  • 2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tbsp whole allspice
  • 2 tbsp peppercorns
  • 3 cups rice vinegar 5 % acidity
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar 5 % acidity
  • Ball Pickle Crisp


  • Clean cabbage by washing under cold water. Rinse and drain. Remove the exterior layer of outer leaves. Cut cabbage into quarters and core. Chop or shred cabbage using a grater or sharp knife.
  • Layer the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Cover and let stand for a minimum of 12 and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Rinse cabbage under cold water and drain on paper towel baking sheets, about 6 hours.
  • Combine spices and place in a spice bag or stainless steel mesh ball.
  • Create a brine by adding sugar, vinegar, and spice bag in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil; boil for 5 minutes. Remove the spice bag.
  • Pack cabbage into hot pint sized jars. Leave ½ inch headspace. Ladle hot pickling liquid over cabbage leaving ½-inch headspace. Top with pickle crisp. Use a debubbler to remove air bubbles, then clean the jar rim with a damp, clean cloth.
  • Center lid on jar and adjust band to fingertip-tight. Place jar on a rack elevated over simmering water (180 degrees Fahrenheit) in a boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  • Using a jar rack lower the jars into the boiling water of your water bath canner. Pour in more water to ensure that the water covers at least an inch above your jars.Place the lid on your pot. Bring water to a full  boil  for 20 minutes, then use a jar lifting to remove the jars out of the water and let them cool on a towel undisturbed for a minimum of 12 hours. (note: do not tighten the caps or you’ll risk breaking the seal).
  • Check seals. Label and store jars.
Keyword cabbage slaw, purple cabbage slaw, pickled purple cabbage

A’s to your Q’s about Canning Pickled Purple Cabbage: 

Can you safely can cabbage in a water bath?

The only USDA approved way of water canning cabbage is using a pickled cabbage recipe. The addition of vinegar adds the needed acidity to make it safe because vinegar destroys botulism and is the preservation agent. Otherwise, as a low-acid food, cabbage would need to be pressure canned, which, due to its extremely mushy texture, discoloration and deteroriation concerns is a method not approved by the USDA.

Does water bath canning destroy pickling benefits?

While this recipe can be preserved as a probiotic rich ferment, if you decide to can it the probiotics and enzymes won’t survive the heat of the water bath canner. If keeping as many probiotics, enzymes and vitamins is your goal, keep your cabbage fermented.

How long will this stay crunchy?

If you use the steps outlined above, you can maintain quality results for 1 year.

Can I just use table salt?

Although table salt is perfectly safe to use in pickling, it is not recommended because the quality of pickles may suffer due to its additives.

How can I tell if my jars have gone bad?

Honey, your eyes and nose will tell ya. When you grab a jar, look at it and tap the lid to ensure that your vacuum seal is still maintained. Lids that are concave indicate that the jar is sealed. Look at the contents of the jar for signs of spoilage (mold, yeast growth, slime). Once you open the jar, use your nose and take a whiff–it should smell, well– like cabbage! If the jar has a disagreeable odor, toss it. 

Start Canning Your Own Purple Cabbage Slaw at Home!

Canning your own cabbage slaw is an inexpensive and simple recipe to stockpile your kitchen pantry with jars of a wholesome, nourishing ingredient that’s conveniently ready for quick meals that need an “oomph” It blends economical and convenience cooking and imparts unbeatable flavor that’ll make an ordinary recipe extraordinary. If your interested in more canned meal topping recipes try my Sweet & Spicy Onion Jam or Epic Balsamic and Rosemary Onion Jam, next!  

Happy Canning, 


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