Rode kool met appeltjes

Around this time of year, when you walk along the narrow streets of Holland at dinner time, it is very possible that you would smell the lovely, spicey, clove and nutmeg filled smells of hachee, an old fashioned traditional beef and onion stew, emanating from a kitchen window. And if you stand still and concentrate on that mixture of smells, you might be able to detect a sweet and sour undertone, a bit cabbage-like, but not much. You'd be so right! Red cabbage, braised with apples, is THE vegetable to serve with hachee and boiled potatoes. It's a typical Dutch winter dish. The sweetness of the apple combines perfectly with the tanginess of the cabbage and the vinegar, and makes for a beautiful mix. 

Most of our cabbages are grown in the province of North-Holland, near the West-Frisian town of Langedijk, where many varieties of red and green cabbage originated and are still grown to this day. 

As with practically any low-and-slow food, the braised cabbage will taste even better the next day (if there's any left). I've found myself many times sneaking a forkful of refrigerated cabbage in the middle of the night. The slight crunch of the cabbage, the sweet and sour combination, the tenderness of the apples...…yum!!

Rode kool met appeltjes
1 medium sized red cabbage
1 small apple
4 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Peel the outer, tough leaves off the cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half, then each half in half again. This will give you an easy opportunity to cut out the core which is tough and bitter. Slice each quarter in thin strips. Rinse the cabbage and add to a pan with a heavy bottom. 

Add enough water to cover the cabbage about halfway, and set it on the stove. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, cover and bring to a slow boil. Stir in the vinegar, add the sugar, stir and cover again. Turn down the heat to a simmer. Let it slowly braise on the back of the stove, for a good half hour.

In the meantime, peel, core and quarter your apple. Stick the three cloves in the largest piece of apple before adding them to the pan, and slowly simmer until the apple is soft. Remove the cabbage and apple from the pan until you only have the braising liquid left. Fish out the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick, and pick the cloves off the apple. 

Make a slurry with the cornstarch (one tablespoons water to one tablespoon cornstarch) and thicken the liquid into a sauce. Turn off the heat. Add the cabbage and apple mix back into the pan, stir a couple of times to mix the sauce with the vegetables. Taste, adjust with salt and pepper. If you like it sweeter or tangier, add a bit more sugar or vinegar. When it's cooled, you can keep it in the fridge for two days.

Red cabbage also pairs very well with game: rabbit, hare, venison and elk.


  1. I love "Rode Kool" I am going to make this recipe today although I wont use a cinnamon stick instead I mix cinnamon into the wine and sugar mixture , it brings memories back from the time I was still lived in the Netherlands.

  2. An American friend of mine suggested a variation that replaces the apples with slices of unpeeled orange. It's surprisingly good, especially when you stick the odd clove into the orange peel.

    I also like using a cooking sherry instead of vinegar. As the fridge magnet in the kitchen says: "I cook with wine. Some even goes in the food!"

    1. I use balsamic vinegar.Yum!
      Also apple sauce instead ....

  3. Found your site a couple of days ago and loved it. Even for a dutch person this is good reading.
    Rode kool met appeltjes is eaten at our home with bloedworst (bloodsausage). It sounds nasty but is delicous.

  4. Hello there i am from Belgium and i use apples honey cloves and thyme and bayleaves .love to add some brown sugar and apple sauce,
    All the texan friends love it , it has something festive , brats and cooked potatoes and belgian beer makes it complete

  5. Found your website a few days ago. Being Dutch and a bit homesick - living abroad-, I was looking for some old-fashioned Dutch recipes. Making "Rode Kool" with apple and Hachee. Thanks for the recipes.

  6. Good recipe. Better to put thd vinegsr and apple towards the end of cooking the red cabbage.Makes the cabbage ready faster.


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