Cabbage was originally found growing wild on the seashore of Southern Europe, England, and Denmark. Some varieties of cabbage were known as far back as the early days of Greece. Other vegetables that have developed from the early strains of cabbage include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi.
Selection: Look for well-trimmed heads. Leaves should be crisp, and the stem end should be dry. The head should be free of insects and decay. Avoid split, or broken heads. Yellowed, wilted leaves indicate that the cabbage is old.
Nutrition: The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” recommends that adults need 2–2½ cups of a variety of vegetables daily. Cabbage is an excellent way to help meet that nutritional requirement. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable and is full of antioxidants that help prevent cancer. It is rich in vitamin C, with 1 cup shredded raw green cabbage containing 22 mg of vitamin C or 1/3 of the daily requirement. Cabbage is a fair source of thiamin, riboflavin, fiber, and potassium. It is low in calories with 1 cup shredded raw green cabbage having only 24 calories.
Storage: Cabbage can last a long time in the refrigerator when properly stored. Keep outer leaves on until ready for use. Cabbage stores well at 32 degrees F and 90 percent relative humidity if well-ventilated. Cabbage wilts rapidly in dry storage.
Safe handling: Clean surfaces, utensils, and hands after touching raw meat and poultry and before you use them on fresh produce. Remove and discard outer leaves and ribs. Wash just before using. To remove dirt, bacteria, and possible pesticide residue, wash cabbage thoroughly in cold water. Drain and rinse several times with cold water. Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach as the cabbage may absorb them. Lift out of the water to prevent redepositing of dirt and residues.
Serving: Follow these tips to retain nutrients …
Cook quickly in a small amount of water because vitamin C is lost in water. Serve immediately. If not, cool quickly.
Shred just before using to minimize exposure to air.
Use as a vegetable alone or in soups, stews, or cabbage rolls.
Use as a salad—coleslaw with cucumbers, tomatoes, or carrots, or in tossed salads (especially red cabbage).
Stir-fry in a small amount of oil at medium-high heat.
Sauté—Melt 2 Tablespoons oil in a frying pan. Add several cups of shredded cabbage and pan fry only until wilted (about 10 minutes). Stir often. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Boiled—Add cabbage wedges or shredded cabbage to saucepan with approximately one inch boiling water. Heat cabbage to boiling. Cover pan. Cook wedges 10 to 15 minutes; shredded cabbage 3 to 10 minutes or until tender crisp.
Source: Ohio Cooperative Extension
Cabbage Au Gratin
4 cups cabbage, shredded
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
11/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk
1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup soft bread crumbs
Boil cabbage in water (enough to cover) for 5 minutes; drain. Make white sauce by combining 2 tablespoons melted butter, flour, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Gradually add milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick. Alternate layers of cabbage, cheese, and white sauce in a greased 11/2-quart casserole dish. Combine bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle crumb mixture over casserole. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.
Crunchy Apple-Pecan Slaw
5 cups shredded cabbage
2 sweet apples, diced
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
½ cup golden raisins
3 green onions, chopped
½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
½ cup 1% buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
¼ – ½ teaspoon pepper
In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, apples, pecans, raisins and onions. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Sandra R. Cain is an Extension agent for Family and Consumer Sciences in Bladen County.