Cabbage has been an indispensable food throughout the world for thousands of years. This mild-tasting vegetable is easy to grow, versatile and inexpensive. It comes in many different varieties and with loads of health benefits. Learn how to cook cabbage, shop for it and store it.
With more than 400 varieties, it’s no wonder cabbage can be found in a variety of shapes, textures and colors. There are 3 common cabbages.
- Green Cabbage—The most common cabbage, its compact round head has smooth green leaves. The color of the cabbage can range from very pale to dark green, depending on the variety. Green cabbage is terrific cooked or in salads.
- Savoy Cabbage—This cabbage has a yellow-green color with sturdy, crinkly leaves and a milder taste than green or red cabbage. Savoy cabbage leaves are great for stuffing and using in salads and slaws.
- Purple or Red Cabbage—Because they take longer to mature, this colorful cabbage is usually not as tender as green cabbage, but does have a slightly sweeter taste. Its brilliant color makes is perfect in salads, cooked or pickled.
How to Shop for Cabbage
Cabbage is usually purchased whole. Heads should be firm with shiny, crisp leaves. Avoid cabbage with wilted or bruised leaves. Cabbage can sometimes also be purchased precut or shredded in bags. Once cabbage has been cut, however, its Vitamin C content starts to decline.
How to Store Cabbage
Cabbage is best stored whole. Green and red cabbage can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; Savoy about 1 week. Place the cabbage in a plastic bag and store. If you need to use part of the cabbage, cut and wrap unused portions tightly in plastic wrap. Once cut, cabbage will need to be used within several days.
How to Prepare Cabbage
Remove the thick outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut into wedges or pieces and rinse under cool water; discard core. Use a sharp knife to cut into smaller pieces, shred or chop. You can also use a shredded or food processor for easier shredding.
- Steam—Steam cabbage wedges 9 to 14 minutes; shredded cabbage 5 to 8 minutes
- Boil—Boil cabbage wedges 8 to 12 minutes; shredded cabbage 3 to 7 minutes
- Microwave—To microwave cabbage, Place cabbage in microwavable casserole; add 2 tbsp water. Microwave wedges or shredded on high 6 to 13 minutes. Let stand 3 minutes.
How to Cook Cabbage
- Cabbage often has a smelly reputation. But the strong smell associated with cooked cabbage is really just the result of overcooking. Aluminum pans intensify the odor, so avoid using them. Cook cabbage, uncovered, just until tender. You can also minimize vitamin and mineral loss by adding cabbage to boiling water.
- When using red cabbage, add 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar per pint (2 cups) of cooking water used. This will help preserve the red color.
- If you’re using cabbage to make slaw, shred the cabbage and then place in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes. Drain well and use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- 1 pound of cabbage yields about 4 cups of shredded raw cabbage or 2 cups of cooked cabbage.
- A medium head of cabbage weighs 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and serves 4.
A cruciferous vegetable, like its cousins broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, cabbage provides a wide variety of health benefits.
Cabbage is low in calories and high in:
- Vitamin C
- Dietary fiber
- One cup of cooked cabbage provides more than 50% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and can help keep your immune system healthy. Vitamin C content varies by the type of cabbage you choose, with red cabbage providing the most.
- Some studies show that eating vegetables in the Brassica family, like cabbage, may help protect against some types of cancer. Cabbage releases compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates when it is digested. These compounds have been shown to have cancer-fighting abilities.
- Cabbage for your bones? Bok choy, a type of Chinese cabbage, is a good source of calcium. One cup of cooked bok choy provides more than 10% of daily calcium requirements important for bone health.
Fresh Vegetable Cooking Chart