Cabbage - Everything you need to know!
Everything you need to know about cabbage! The humble cabbage is a very versatile vegetable. It's great for coleslaw, but cabbage can bring so much more to your table. Some varieties are great sources of vitamin C.
A member of the Brassica family, cabbage is related to kale, broccoli and cauliflower. Botanical evidence suggests that cabbage has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years, originating in Turkey and Greece. Reportedly, Jacques Cartier, who planted it in Canada on his third voyage, circa 1541, first introduced it to North America. Get to know this leafy wonder by learning about the different types and preparation techniques.
The heart of any good coleslaw is shredded green cabbage, which, in the supermarket, looks similar to a head of iceberg lettuce - green, round and typically a little smaller than a volleyball. Green is the most common type of cabbage and is popular for its crunchiness and mild flavor. When looking for a head of green cabbage, look for one that is heavy for its size and has no discoloration.
This type adds a burst of color to any salad or stir-fry. Red cabbage takes longer to mature than green cabbage, so they usually are not as tender. This variety is perfect for serving raw in salads and slaws. The color in red cabbage can often run when cooked. Other foods will turn red and the cabbage will take on a bluish hue. This can be avoided by cooking with an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar.
Tender and sweet, Savoy cabbage is popular in Italian recipes and has a milder flavor than green cabbage. Look for heads with even green coloring and slightly cone-shaped leaves. The leaves should be crisp, not limp, and there should be no sign of browning. The firmer leaves work well when cooked in such dishes as cabbage rolls.
Introduced into North America from China in the 1880's, Napa is also known as Chinese cabbage. It has long, oblong-shaped leaves that are flat and wide. The leaves are a pale green to greenish white in the center. It looks much like a head of romaine lettuce only more compact, with curly edges. Napa can be served cooked or raw and works particularly well in stir-fries and soups.
Many kids turn their noses up at this miniature form of cabbage, but a little butter or a touch of salt is often the solution. In the supermarket, look for fresh, unfaded green color with no sign of yellowing. The heads should be dense and firm, the leaves unwilted.
For best chopping results, use a chef's knife and a very flat surface. Start by cutting one side off the cabbage. Then roll it over to sit on the flat side. Cut around the tough core, which is not eaten. Cut off the top, then the sides around the core. Finally, chop, grate or shred the remaining wedges of cabbage.
1/4 pound cooked cabbage equals one serving
One medium head (about two pounds) cabbage equals four to six servings or six to eight cups shredded
Store all varieties of cabbage tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to one week.