Royal Cabbage Slaw

This cabbage slaw places purple forward, and since purple has long been associated with royalty, the name became almost self-evident to me.  I’m not sure if royalty ever ate cabbage slaws, but if they had eaten this one, I’d like to think they would find it pleasing. My dear sweet, and very much un-royal husband found it so. In fact, he liked it so much he asked me to make more, then ate so much I didn’t have enough left for our fish tacos!

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The Science Behind Red Cabbage

I find it confusing that this purplish-colored cabbage is called red cabbage. But there’s a scientific reason for that. The pigment molecule class that turns this cabbage purple—anthocyanins—also turns certain leaves red, thus the name. Anthocyanins are perhaps more familiarly known as  flavenoids. 

The flavenoid-rich, red cabbage can also be used for scientific purposes. Not only do anthocyanins control the pigment of plants that contain it, they also serve as pH detectors. Seriously! The pH around anthocyanin molecules affects the pigmentation. So you could use your red cabbage to determine the pH of a substance. Learn more or get hands on and make a cabbage juice pH detector

Hydroponics, of a Sort

My big experiment these days? Joining the “you can grow plants in water” bandwagon. It’s yielded interesting but so far mostly unsustainable results.  My cabbages are doing better than anything else. The red cabbage is a few weeks behind my green cabbage and just sprouting leaves. Will it grow enough to harvest for Royal Cabbage Slaw? Perhaps. But if some of my other attempts are any measure (Romaine, how you disappointed me) this will just have been a fun thing to do while I was waiting for my garden plants to grow.  I do expect to harvest radish and cilantro for a future batch of slaw.

About Royal Cabbage Slaw

This would pair well with different seafood and barbecues, or you could do like  dear, sweet husband … and eat it right out of the giant serving bowl. I enjoyed it as a snack in addition to serving with our meals.  It’s vegetarian, gluten-free, and low sodium. And it contains a fermented food ingredient: vinegar. Royal Cabbage Slaw is easy to make overall but has some picky prep. If shredding cabbage is not your best skill, check out this great video by Torey Avey.  If you don’t have time, don’t worry about matchstick thin radish. Chop the cilantro stems and all—it will taste fine, if you remove thick stem parts before chopping.  Feeding a small army? Double the recipe.

“Acid strength is measured by the pH scale, with lower numbers being stronger, and in 2005 a chemist from New Zealand invented a boron-based acid called a carborane, with a pH of -18.”

Sam Kean

Royal Cabbage Slaw

Slaw served with a side of science. Royal Cabbage Slaw is not only delicious but also has some interesting chemical properties.
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword cabbage slaw, fermented ingredients, gluten free, non-vegetarian, salad, slaw, vegan
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 cups
Calories 134kcal


  • ½ C rice vinegar
  • ¼ C extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ C Splenda or other sweetener
  • ½ head of red cabbage shredded, about 6 to 7 cups
  • ½ C fresh cilantro chopped
  • ¼ C radish chopped matchstick thin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Shred cabbage and set aside.
  • Chop fresh cilantro and set aside.
  • Chop radish into matchsticks and set aside.
  • Mix vinegar, olive oil and Splenda.
  • Add radish and cilantro and stir well.
  • Add cabbage and toss all ingredients until well covered.
  • If desired, salt and pepper to taste, or reserve salt and pepper for individual servings.


Serving Suggestions
Serve as the bottom layer of fish or shrimp soft tacos or as a side with a light seafood such as soft-shell crab, shrimp, or fish. Excellent side with barbecued meats, especially pulled pork or chicken in a tomato- or honey-forward barbecue sauce.


Serving: 1cup | Sodium: 22mg | Calcium: 35mg | Vitamin C: 41mg | Vitamin A: 871IU | Sugar: 9g | Fiber: 2g | Potassium: 189mg | Calories: 134kcal | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fat: 9g | Protein: 1g | Carbohydrates: 13g | Iron: 1mg