Cabbage
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When people say "Cabbage," they generally mean the Green Cabbage or Red Cabbage that is a large, smooth-leafed, single-headed plant, but they can also be referring to Savoy Cabbage, a head cabbage with crinkly leaves. Or it could be the varieties of Chinese Cabbages, such as Napa Cabbage (aka "celery cabbage") or Bok Choy.

Just to confuse things a bit further, you should know that our 16th Century English ancestors called the whole Cabbage plant "cabbage-cole," cole or colewort. They did not make much dinstinction between different cruciferous vegetables either. For example, both Broccoli and Cauliflower were also sometimes known as colewort.

Like many other food plants that have been around for thousands of years, Cabbage is native to central Asia and the Mediterranean. Cabbage has a very short stem, and what’s eaten of the plant is its head—thus its name from the Latin word “caput,” meaning “head,” which distinguishes it from other Brassica named from the Latin word “caulis,” meaning “stem” or “stalk” (cauliflower, collards, kale).

Cabbage is inexpensive, hardy, easy to grow, and can survive a frost or two, which has made it a staple of Northern and Eastern Europe, the British Isles and Russia. It's nutritious and low calorie (there are whole weight-loss diet's based on cabbage soup), and can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled, as in Sauerkraut and as an essential element of the Korean dish "Kimchi."

The glucosinolates in the plant’s defense system contain sulfur and give it a pungent, sometimes bitter taste. When the plant is “attacked,” i.e. chopped or cooked, it releases more glucosinolates, making it smell and taste stronger—hence the lingering odor from long-cooked Cabbage.

Season

Cultivation

Production

Varieties

Of the many varieties of Cabbage, Green Cabbage and Red Cabbage are the most used and easiest to find in grocery stores and farmers market's. Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage and Savoy Cabbage are some of the more esoteric varieties of Cabbage.

Purchasing

When shopping for Cabbage, look for individual Cabbages that are compact and seem somewhat heavy for their size. It’s all right if a few of the outer leaves are roughed up, they’re likely to be tossed anyway. Avoid any heads that are speckled with brown or black dots, which is a sign it may have bugs or be starting to mold. Leaves that are yellowing or separating from the bottom stem means the plant is on the older side.

Storage

Store Cabbage in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or wrapped in plastic wrap. Green and Red Cabbage should last 2 weeks, but Savoy Cabbage and Napa Cabbage are much more fragile and will only last 4-5 days, a week at most.

Moisture is the big enemy when it comes to keeping cabbage, so don’t rinse it before storing and try to keep as much air out as possible, if wrapping in plastic wrap. Plastic bags with small holes can also help a cabbage last longer-the circulating air helps keep it dry.

Culinary Uses

A head of Cabbage has a stem and central core that are removed when cooking. Both are tough, and the core has a higher concentration of glucosinolates than the rest of the plant, making it more bitter. Discard any outer leaves that are wilted or discolored. Trim the thicker parts of large leaves or chop them finer to ensure a more even cooking time or a more even texture if using the Cabbage raw.

Savoy and Napa Cabbages usually have much less stem and core than Green or Red Cabbage and need only a little trimming. Both Cabbages will cook faster than Red or Green Cabbages and will a more quickly in an acid-based dressing or sauce.

Like its fellow crucifers, Cabbage cooked for a long time becomes almost a different vegetable. It has a strong flavor and can get "waterlogged" and "mushy," and smells terrible. However, since there are dishes that call for long cooking, a way to help minimize the odor is to add acid to the mixture-Vinegar or Tomatoes, for example. Otherwise, when cooking Cabbage "the shorter the better."

Portion Size

Allow 1-2 oz of Cabbage per person.

Pairings

Ginger, Garlic, Cream, Caraway Seeds, Whole Butter, Unsalted Butter, Bacon, Apples, Bay Leaf, Pork, Chicken, Beef, Turkey, Fish, Juniper Berries, Mayonnaise, Deli Mustard, Dijon Mustard, Yellow Onions, Red Onions, Shallots, White Onions, Pearl Onions, Olive Oil, Sugar, Thyme, Tarragon, Savory, Soy Sauce, Sea Salt, Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, Pink Pepper, Sour Cream, Heavy Cream, Carrots, Champagne Vinegar, Cider Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, Sherry Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, White Wine Vinegar, Rice Wine Vinegar, White Wine, Red Wine, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest, Lime Juice, Lime Zest, Fennel, Fennel Seeds, Cheddar Cheese, Feta Cheese, Goat Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, Swiss Cheese, Taleggio Cheese, Teleme Cheese, Cilantro, Parsley

Substitutes

Kale, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens

Nutritional Value USDA
CABBAGE,RAW
Amount Per 100g
Calories 25
%Daily Value*
 
0%
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 18mg
3%
Potassium 170mg
1%
Total Carbohydrate 5g
8%
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 3g
Protein 1g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Nutrition

Cabbage has been known for its nutritional value since Grecian times. Cabbages have lots of Vitamin C, containing almost as much as citrus fruits (though some of that leeches into any liquid when cooked), and also contains Vitamins A and B1. It is chock full of mineral-potassium, phosphorus, sulfur compounds, calcium, iodine and sodium, to name only a few. They can be helpful in lowering cholesterol, building bones and calming nerves.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes