Trim the rib of the cabbage leaves off, using a paring knife (just the thick part that sticks out). This will make it easier to roll up.
If the leaves are large, you can cut them into smaller pieces (we cut ours into 2 to 3 pieces each). They should be approximately the size of your hand, for a standard cabbage roll size. You can go smaller or larger if you would like, but keep in mind, you will need to change the amount of filling you add.
In a large bowl, mix together the rice, meat, onions, brown sugar and spices.
Roll approximately 1 heaping tablespoon (or more for larger leaves) of the mixture up into each sour cabbage leaf.
Close the ends by pushing them into the roll. Now you can either freeze or cook the cabbage rolls (see below).
If the cabbage rolls were frozen, thaw them in the refrigerator. I like to thaw them directly in the dish I will be baking them in. If fresh, continue to step 2 below.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Boil some water in a kettle. Arrange the cabbage rolls in a casserole dish. If you are baking a large amount at once, they can be layered on top of each other.
Pour just enough boiling water over the cabbage rolls to cover them.
Cover the casserole dish with a lid and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. If there is water left in the casserole dish after baking, you can drain it.
Slow Cooker Instructions:
Layer the uncooked cabbage rolls in the crock pot. Pour boiling water over top (just enough to almost cover them). Cook on high for at least 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
To Freeze Raw Cabbage Rolls:
Place the freshly made raw cabbage rolls on a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Transfer them to the freezer for a few hours or overnight. (This is so they don’t stick together once frozen.)
Transfer the cabbage rolls to a freezer bag or air-tight container and freeze until ready to bake.
This recipe makes between 48 and 60 cabbage rolls, depending on the size of the cabbage leaves and how much filling is added.This makes approximately 1/2 a canner.