Healthy Oktoberfest Eats: Rotkraut

24 Oct

October is almost over and the German beer festival known as Oktoberfest has long been over.  So yes, this post is a little bit tardy.

In any case, I had my very own Oktoberfest correspondent this year and I thought it would be fun to transform a traditional Oktoberfest eat into something a little healthier.  When I asked Erin (who has been living in Munich for the past 6 weeks) about authentic Oktoberfest cuisine, she explained that the two most popular foods are sausages and pretzels.  I’m not big on sausages (tofusausage anyone?) and I was far too lazy to attempt a whole wheat pretzel.  Instead, I did some searching and decided I would try my hand at Rotkraut, also known as “red cabbage.”

Erin in her dirndl during Oktoberfest in Munich

The idea to make rotkraut came from my sister, who had purchased the jarred variety a few weeks prior.  In the three days that I stayed with her, I ended up devouring about half of the jar (sorry Jen).  Rotkraut is kind of like sauerkraut but purple-y red in colour and not fermented.  Sort of sweet, sort of sour.

The dish required very few ingredients and was pretty easy to make.  It would have been really easy if not for the apples, which were cut into thin julienne strips.  I had a hand cramp from cutting apples that persisted for the rest of the day (I need to learn proper knife skills!), but it meant having an easy side-dish for a week with no dishes to wash.  Well worth it, I’d say.

Red Cabbage Wedge

Itsy bitsy strips of apple...

One of the best things about this dish is the colour the cabbage takes on once cooked– a vibrant purple that contrasts beautifully with everything else on your plate.  The taste was a bit different from the jarred variety.  It was not as sour, and more aromatic due to the addition of cloves.  Since cabbage is so healthy, inexpensive, and shelf-stable, I may not wait until next “Oktober” to make this dish again.


Rotkraut, aka German Red Cabbage


German Red Cabbage (adapted from

1 head red cabbage
2 medium onions
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup vegetable stock
4 medium-sized tart apples, thinly julienned
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Discard outer leaves of cabbage.  Rinse.  Cut into quarters.  Discard core and coarsely shred by slicing somewhat thinly.
  2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet.  Add onions and saute until tender.  Add all ingredients but the apple and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in apple and cover skillet halfway with lid.  Continue to cook for 30 minutes or until tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Best eaten warm, but can be served cold.

Makes 8 generous servings. Per serving: 130 kcal, 4 g fibre, 2 g fat

2 Responses to “Healthy Oktoberfest Eats: Rotkraut”


  1. Nutritious and Delicious Kale Slaw with Red Cabbage, Carrot, and Apple « More Spinach, Please - November 14, 2011

    […] because I now have a massive head of red cabbage in the fridge that needs to be used up.  Rotkraut anyone? Kale Slaw with Red Cabbage, Carrot, and […]

  2. Boozy Braised Red Cabbage « More Spinach, Please - December 4, 2011

    […] gin.  How can you go wrong with a combo like that?  The ingredients are similar to those in the Rotkraut dish but the taste is quite different.  The Rotkraut was sweet and sour while this dish is rich […]

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