Day 267 Pickled Cabbage

Cooking on the Hearth at Joseph Schneider Haus – photo courtesy Candice Leyland

I spent the day cooking over an open-hearth today at Joseph Schneider Haus. I walked over in a somewhat appropriate costume. It was an interesting feeling to leave my 1888 home wearing a 1906 style skirt and waist to reach an 1856 home where I made Potato Soup from a recipe I used back in February 9 on Day 40. It is a recipe that suits 1807 when the Schneider family arrived from Pennsylvania all the way through to today in 2012. It was wonderful to cook with wood again. While talking, cooking, and serving soup, I started the preparations for tonight’s recipe Pickled Cabbage which was contributed by Annie Schwartz. I brought a cabbage and used the old cabbage box cutter. These cutters, sometimes called slaw or kraut cutters make short work of shredding cabbages. This one was huge and dwarfed my little cabbage. It was designed for making vast quantities of sauerkraut. The recipe from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book makes a much smaller amount and a different sort of preserved cabbage. In fact it is a very flexible recipe. I’m making one jar but it could be used to make multiples.

Chopping Cabbage – Photo courtesy of Candice Leyland

I shredded part of the cabbage using the cutter. I put the finely cut cabbage into a jar and then at home I added the boiling water. Once it cooled I drained and started adding the seasonings. I sprinkled some black pepper and cayenne pepper into the jar of cabbage. I sprinkled some ground cinnamon and put four cloves into the jar. I had a fresh horse-radish root so I grated a little of it into the cabbage. I guessed that cold vinegar was added rather than hot and I used pickling vinegar since it is stronger than the regular vinegar.  I put the lid on the jar and shook it up a bit before tasting. This not a recipe that meets current canning standards although it would be a typical technique in 1906.

Based on the 1901 Annie Schwartz is probably the 34-year-old unmarried daughter of 55-year-old widowed Lisabeth Schwartz. Three other unmarried children are in the household (Clara 32, Matilda 30, and Frank 20). Mrs. Schwartz works as a seamstress and the three daughters work in a button factory. Frank’s occupation is unreadable. The family’s ancestry is German but Mrs. Schwartz was born in the United States. Their religion is Roman Catholic. According to Waterloo Region Generations website, before his death (sometime between 1883 and 1901), Mr. John Schwartz was a grocer and merchant. Annie was the second oldest of eight children.

The family surname is mangled into Swartz and even Swart in the 1911 census. The household consists of mother Elizabeth, daughter Annie and son Frank. They live at 66 Roy Street. Mother is no longer employed but Annie works as a driller in a button factory and Frank is a packer in a furniture factory. I suspect that contributing recipes to the Berlin Cook Book might have meant a lot to Annie Schwartz. Her life might have been difficult particularly as she is unmarried during a time when that was viewed as the ultimate goal for a woman. She spends long hours doing a monotonous yet exacting task in a button factory. Drilling the holes in the buttons would require some precision I think and probably good eyesight. I wonder what became of Annie Schwartz?

I tasted the cabbage after I had everything in the jar. The vinegar was very strong but otherwise it was a bit like a coleslaw. The other seasonings were hard to detect at this point. This won’t be the final taste as I’m sure the flavours of spices, horseradish and vinegar will continue to blend for a while. I’m intrigued by the combination of ingredients. I think this could be a nice pickle but I’m a little worried about what will happen over time.

I think this recipe suits my image of Annie Schwartz and her family. This is an inexpensive recipe to make and she could probably do it after work or on the weekend especially if her mother and brother helped shred the cabbage. Adding spices makes this a little different. As the household shrinks she can make fewer jars.

I think this recipe is worth a try since you can adjust the amount.

Select solid heads of cabbage, slice very fine, place in a jar cover with boiling water, when cold drain off water, season with grated horse radish, equal parts of black and red pepper, cinnamon and whole cloves, cover with strong vinegar.

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