Threshing and Old-time Pickled Cabbage (Pepper Hash) Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, September 13 , 1911: Was in such terrible trepidation this morning, lest I would have to miss school and help Ma with the work, but Besse came to my relief. So glad I was. I missed those stacks and stacks of dishes for dinner, but have to confront them tonight.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Besse was Grandma’s married sister who lived nearby. The previous day Grandma wrote that the threshers were at the farm.  All the farmers in the community probably were at the Muffly farm helping with the threshing. And, I bet that all the hard work made them very hungry.

Early 20th century photos of steam-operated threshing machine. Photo was taken in the midwest, so the machine in the photo was probably a little larger than what would have been used in central Pennsylvania. (Photo source: Library of Congress, Fred Hultstrand and F.A. Pazandak Collections)

I’m on a roll remembering traditional Pennsylvania sweet and sour foods that might have been served to the threshers. Yesterday I wrote about spiced crab apples.  Another fall sweet and sour food is pickled cabbage (pepper hash).

Pickled Cabbage (Pepper Hash)

1 medium head cabbage, shredded (approximately 4 cups)

1 green bell pepper (green mango), coarsely chopped

1 red  bell pepper (red mango),  coarsely chopped

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and let  stand at least 1 hour. This salad may be kept covered and refrigerated for several weeks. Drain before serving.

I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, Linda— and she says that she got it from her mother.  It is a very typical old-fashioned central Pennsylvania dish.

This recipe is very adaptable and can easily be made in larger or smaller quantities. Just use equal proportions of vinegar and sugar to make as much dressing as needed.

Linda says that the original recipe called for green and red mangos rather than green and red bell peppers. Traditionally people in central Pennsylvania and other parts of Appalachia referred to bell peppers as mangos. Of course, the mango fruit doesn’t grow in Pennsylvania, and until recent improvements in transportation the tropical  fruit wasn’t sold there, so there never was any confusion.

11 thoughts on “Threshing and Old-time Pickled Cabbage (Pepper Hash) Recipe

  1. sometimes I wish gggrandmother McPherson had also left a diary — full of personal tidbits, recipies, and day to day family living— nontheless, I am grateful for the diary I have.

    1. We are both very fortunate to have ancestors’ diaries. Males and females seem to just focus on different things. My grandparents were classmates during high school. I don’t think that my grandfather kept a diary–but I’ve often thought the if he had, that it probably would have a very different perspective on things than what my grandmother had.

      1. hi Sheryl, was out a friend’s house getting crabapples. Friday I am going to make pickled crabapples. but I am going to can them as we dont have enough space in refrigerator. My friend said probably 15-20 minutes in water bath canner

        1. Let me know how they turn out. My gut feeling is that you aren’t the only person who would prefer to can them–so I’m glad that you are figuring out how to do it.

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