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Cabbage

Nutrition ~ Preparation ~ Recipes ~ Cultivation ~ Storage ~ Selection ~ Varieties

The botanical name for cabbage is Brassica oleracea capitata. The English name cabbage comes from the French word caboche, meaning head, referring to its round form. Other vegetables related to the cabbage include Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi.

History

Cabbage has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years and has been domesticated for over 2,500 years. Though many people connect cabbage to the Irish, the Celts brought cabbage to Europe from Asia around 600 B.C. Early cabbage was not like the full-bodied head grown today, but instead was more of a loose-leaf variety. Northern European farmers developed the head variety in the Middle Ages. French navigator Jacques Cartier brought cabbage to the Americas in 1536.

Preparation

Cabbage contains isothiocynates that breakdown into smelly sulfur compounds when cooked. The longer the cabbage is cooked, the stronger the smell becomes. Aluminum pans also increase the reaction. The solution to smelly cooked cabbage then is a short cooking time in stainless steel pots and pans. Cook the vegetable, uncovered, in enough water to cover the vegetable. To keep the cooking time brief, boil the water before adding the cabbage and cook just until tender. Another option is to microwave the vegetable. Cut the cabbage in to wedges, sprinkle with water, and cook just until tender. Or to eliminate cooking altogether, enjoy cabbage in a salad like coleslaw.

One medium head of cabbage is equivalent to 2 pounds of cabbage or 4 servings. One pound of raw cabbage is equivalent to 2 cups cooked.


Nutrition

Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and may reduce the risk of some cancers including colorectal cancers. Nutritionally, cabbage is high in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and fiber.

Unfortunately, some people don't benefit from eating cabbage because they see it as an unpleasant vegetable with a bad odor. However, the cook, not the cabbage should be blamed for this problem.

Nutritional Information (per half cup cooked green cabbage): 16 calories, 3.6 mg carbohydrate, 2.9 g fiber, 18.2 mg Vitamin C.

Selection

All varieties of cabbage are available all year round. When selecting cabbage for purchase look for large, compact heads that are heavy for their size. Choose those with tender green leaves showing no signs of damage or insect nibbles.

Storage

At home, store the whole head of cabbage in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week. Fresh cabbage from the garden will last up to two weeks. The older the cabbage gets though, the stronger the flavor and odor will be. Once the head is cut, the cabbage will lose its freshness so plan to use within a day. If the cabbage was fairly fresh when cut, the unused portion should last a couple days longer if put in a plastic bag and a couple drops of water are put on the cut side.


Cultivation

Cabbage is a hardy vegetable that grows well in fertile soil and takes only three months to grow.


Red Acre Cabbage
Red Acre Cabbage

San Antonio, Texas


Varieties

There are various shades of green cabbages available as well as red and purple varieties. Green cabbage is grown more often than the red or Savory varieties but red is being used more often for color in salads and cooked dishes. Savory varieties, which are dark green in color, are grown for salads and slaw.

Recipes

Spring Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

    * 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    * ¼ medium head red cabbage (about 2 cups), finely shredded
    * 2 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    * ½ cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
    * 1 cup frozen or fresh green peas
    * 2 ½ cups low-sodium tomato or vegetable juice
    * 1 cup water
    * 2 tsp. dried basil
    * Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

In large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute cabbage, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and peas for 10 minutes. Add tomato juice and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, add basil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender and soup is piping hot. Serve in individual serving bowls. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Nutritional Information (per serving): 120 calories, 4 grams fat, 5 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 200 mg sodium.

Makes 4 servings

Cabbage
Cabbage

seed

Cabbage
Cabbage

fresh from Florida

Michihili Chinese Cabbage Seeds
Michihili Chinese Cabbage Seeds

Dehydrated Cabbage
Dehydrated Cabbage



Sources: Iowa State University Extension


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