Cabbage (2024)

This versatile vegetable can be crunchy, silky, pungent, or sweet, depending on how you choose to cook it. Don't be fooled by its humble reputation: Cabbage is a wonder food that's packed with flavor and nutrients.

Raw cabbage stimulates digestion as well as the immune system. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties and may help clear up ulcers and complexion problems. Both raw and cooked cabbage are great sources of vitamin C and calcium. Eating cabbage may reduce your risk of cancer: The red variety is especially rich in antioxidants.

Green and red cabbage both grow in round heads with smooth, thick leaves. Green pairs well with meaty flavors. When thinly sliced, red adds heft to salads. Napa, an Asian variety, grows barrel-shaped or elongated. It's delicate, juicy, and perfect for slaws.
Savoy has looser leaves that are green and crinkled. It appears most often in fall and early winter. You can use it in any recipe that calls for green cabbage.


Cabbage is available year-round, but it peaks in winter, when cold weather coaxes out its sweetness. A head of cabbage should feel heavy for its size. Go for small or medium-size heads that are firm and compact with unblemished leaves.


Pull off the very thickest outer leaves and rinse whole heads just before slicing. Use cabbage as soon as possible for the best nutritional bang, especially a partial head. Slicing amps up flavor and possibly nutrients, but the vitamin content diminishes when cabbage is stored after cutting-so stay away from the pre-cut packaged stuff.

Cabbage's less-than-sexy reputation has much to do with mishandling.

  1. Lose the odor: That cabbagey smell will stay away if you cook cabbage for a short time (5 minutes or less), uncovered and in lots of water.
  2. Keep it bright: Red cabbage retains that vivid purplish color when you slice it with a stainless steel knife (rather than carbon steel), use a nonreactive pan (rather than cast iron or aluminum), and add an acid, like vinegar or lemon juice.
  3. Crisp it up: Shredded cabbage stays perky if it's soaked in cold water. This also helps cut the pungent edge. Drain well before combining with other ingredients.

A few simple preparations:

  1. Simmer sliced green or savoy cabbage just until tender in enough water to cover, along with salt and a pat of butter. Drain. Toss with grated Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.
  2. Sauté sliced red cabbage with butter, chopped onion, sliced dried apricots, and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Add sliced Napa cabbage to miso broth with cubed tofu, sliced green onions, and sliced shiitake or crimini mushrooms; drizzle with Asian sesame oil.


A whole head of cabbage will keep for a week or longer when stored unwashed in the fridge and sealed in plastic.

Cabbage (2024)
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