Historical Recipe: Medieval Sweet & Sour Cabbage

We are heading back to the 13th-15th centuries for our historical recipe this week with a delicious, ‘Sweet and Sour Cabbage’. Brought to you by Caroline Nicolay, archaeology educator & Iron Age specialist at Pario Gallico.


  (Count half a small cabbage for 2 helpings.)


– Half a green cabbage, finely sliced 

– 2 tbsp cider or wine vinegar (malt is a bit too harsh)

– 2 tsp sugar (white or brown) 

– oil or butter or lard

– salt

Optional: for a spiced version based on a ‘’Sweet and sour rabbit’’ Medieval recipe. 

– ½ tsp ginger powder 

– ½ tsp black pepper

– ¼ tsp cinnamon powder

– onions, finely chopped (1 per quarter of cabbage)

– raisins, chopped, a handful (or to your taste)

– red wine, a small glass

– 1 handful of crushed hazelnuts
(foraged on this nice walk, find from the crannog too)

… honey oat cakes, shortbreads, toasted brioche… as you like!


– Parboil the cabbage in lightly salted water for about 10 minutes (parboil the onions too if you are using them). Drain.

– Fry the boiled cabbage/onions in a spoonful of oil/butter/lard. 

– Lower the heat and add 2 tbsp of vinegar, sprinkle with 1 tsp of sugar (add all the spices, chopped raisins and a dash of red wine if using) and salt, stir and leave to cook for 2 minutes.

– Taste and smell: at this point the recipe has to be tailored to each cook as we all have different tastes! If it tastes/smells very acidic, add another tsp of sugar. If it is too sweet add a dash of vinegar and/ or a pinch of salt. If it tastes bland or unbalanced, add a pinch of salt. 

Always stir, leave to cook for a minute or two, taste / smell again.

It will reach a specific balance point where all acidity, savoury and sweet work together. 

– Serve hot as a dish by itself with flat bread or a nice loaf and cheese, or with a grain dish.. or perfect as a side dish for a meat with gravy / sauce. 

Archaeology educator and Iron Age specialist, living historian and experimental archaeologist, Caroline Nicolay, Director at Pario Gallico. Caroline will be back at the festival this year demonstrating Iron Age cookery and how to make ancient paints, among other things.

Instagram: @ParioGallico

Twitter: @pariogallico