Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Char's recipe card. 
Finding and recording traditional recipes for the food we consider so important in our life, but don't take the time to learn to make while the older generation is around, can be lots of fun.  Char is my high school friend's, Bonnie, sister.  Char has always made the Kapusta in their family.  After our trips to St. George's Hall for Kapusta Burgers, I wanted to learn how Kapusta was made on the Westside of Grand Rapids.  Bonnie said her sister made the best.  So Bonnie had a Kapusta party as she realized that she didn't know how to make it either..  We met at Bonnie's house on a Wednesday as that is the day 20th Century Meat Market makes German Wieners.  Char made her Kapusta, actually she made 2 big pots, I took pictures and wrote down what she did.  While the Kapusta was cooking we all talked and laughed.  Then we piled in a van and went shopping at 20th Century for our sausages.  We all loved Char's Kapusta and made little piggies of ourselves so we laughed some more.
Cabbage and sauerkraut have an important place in history as they supplied necessary nutrients to people before canning or refrigeration, and mass transit of vegetables to all parts of the world during all the different seasons.   Cabbage is loaded with vitamins and minerals.  It is known for balancing the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, and has antioxidant properties.
Sauerkraut which is made from cabbage is said to have originated during the building of the Great Wall of China 2,000 years ago to keep the workers healthy and able to work.  The Chinese pickled the cabbage in rice wine vinegar because salt was too expensive.  Genghis Khan brought sauerkraut to Europe a 1,000 years later.  The Germans started using salt to cure the cabbage and ferment it.  The sugar in the cabbage turns to lactic acid which is a preservative.
Early Dutch sailors carried sauerkraut on their ships to prevent scurvy.  Other Europeans followed the Dutch including Captain James Cook.  The Dutch and German eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day to ensure good luck in the coming year. 
Kapusta is a very important side dish served at Eastern European weddings, and holidays.  It is a humble dish which is elevated to a celebration necessity.  Each family has it's own recipe.  Some like Char's have no meat, others are made with meat and/or brown sugar or caraway seeds.   In Kapusta, the cabbage and sauerkraut blend together forming a lovely soft, silky, smooth to the tongue taste treat.  The harshness of the sauerkraut and the smell of cooked cabbage is blended into a delightful combination which is not harsh and doesn't smell.  It is wonderful with potatoes or used to top Polish sausage, German wieners or a pork chop/roast.
1 medium, heavy cabbage, about 3 pounds
2 jars (32oz. each) old-fashioned sauerkraut
1 large onion, Spanish sweet
2 sticks margarine
1 can (49 1/2oz) chicken broth
3 T Crisco shortening
Ingredients:  Cabbage, Vlasic Old Fashioned Sauerkraut, onion, chicken broth, margarine, and

Chop onion into small cubes.  Drain sauerkraut and rinse well.  Squeeze the liquid from the drained sauerkraut and pat dry.  (If you want a more sour-tart taste to your Kapusta, save some of the sauerkraut juice to add when the Kapusta is cooked.)  Chop cabbage into medium-sized pieces.   Melt margarine in a large pot.  Add onions and cook until soft, do not let them brown.  Put one jar of the drained and rinsed sauerkraut into the onions, and top with one-half of the chopped cabbage.  Cook on low, stirring, until cabbage has reduced in volume.  Add second jar of drained and rinsed sauerkraut and second half of cabbage.  Add chicken broth.  Stir well.  Cover.  Simmer, stirring frequently, for a couple of hours.  When the liquid is reduced and cabbage has blended with the sauerkraut,  add the Crisco shortening and stir well.

Melt margarine in a large pot.

Chop onion.

Add onions to melted margarine.  Cook.  Do not allow the onions to brown.

Coarsely chop cabbage.

Onions cooked until soft in margarine.

Drain sauerkraut.

Save some sauerkraut juice if desired.


 Rinse well.
After rinsing well, squeeze out liquid and pat dry with paper towel.

Add drained sauerkraut to onions.

Add half of the chopped cabbage to pot with the onions and sauerkraut.


Stir to mix.  Allow to slowly cook down.
Stir frequently while it is cooking down.  Add second jar of drained sauerkraut and remaining cabbage.  Stir.  Add chicken broth.  Cover and cook slowly for a couple of hours.  Stir frequently.

Kapusta cooked down and ready for Crisco.

Add Crisco and stir well.

Char's mission accomplished.  Good job Char!!

Finished Kapusta.
After the Kapusta was cooked, Char, Bonnie, Sue and I headed to 20th Century Meat Market for fresh German Wieners to make Kapusta Dogs.

My favorite Westside meat market.

20th Century Meat Market's fresh homemade German Wieners.
Bonnie now takes over the cooking.

Put a German Wiener on a hot dog bun.

Pile on the Kapusta.


Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!!

 Don't try to take Char's picture when she is eating 
as eating is serious business and she will not look up when you ask her to smile.
Kapusta served with roast pork, and squash.  This Kapusta was frozen before being served.



  1. Enjoyed your article - I'll give you our Lithuanian Family Kapusta receipe:
    Fry 3 - 6 slices of smoked bacon in a cast iron pan - until crisp. Save about three + tablespoonfuls of the grease and put in a large pot - crumble bacon. Split a head of green cabbage - remove core. slice each half into "thin" strips, dice so that the "strips of cabbage" about two to three in long by about 3/8 in wide (give or take) - place cabbage in pot add some water and cook cabbage until it wilts - add water as necessary - add the same volume of sauerkraut (include juices from the package) "Frank's or - mix well - add bacon crumbles, Add pepper corns, the right amount,dice onion, add some peeled apple, add 1 lb of dark brown sugar, a "touch" of molasses, stir well, add spices, dill, celery seed,caraway seed, let simmer for the afternoon - add water back if necessary - this is kapusta to die for - the mix is very limp, cooked down, light brown in color - sweet, delicious, soggy, aroma is wonderful - spread on a burger (kapusta burger) or (kapusta dog) add a cold beer and your in heaven - kids love this kapusta -
    Enjoy - I don't think I forgot anything
    Ray (Slikas) Antel, Sts.Peter & Paul School/Church - You didn't mention a receipe for Lithuanian Potato Pancakes - with sour cream and onion topping - sour cream was a staple in our diet before the rest of the world discovered it.

  2. Thank you ever so much for your recipe. I have two other Kapusta recipes to post, one has bacon and the other has caraway seeds. I love to collect and save the "old" recipes as I feel they are very valuable.

    Do you have a recipe for Lithuanian Potato Pancakes? I would love to have that recipe too.