Nutritional Value & Health Benefits
There are literally hundred of varieties of cabbage. The most popular varieties in the United States are green cabbage and bok choy. As with broccoli, cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable and may reduce the risk of some forms of cancer including colorectal cancers. Cabbage is also high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber. Other substantial nutrients in a half cup cooked cabbage include the following.
Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup cooked green cabbage)
Dietary fiber 2.9 grams
Carbohydrates 3.6 mg
Vitamin C 18.2 mg
Selection & Storage
Look for tight, heavy heads, free of insects and decay. Fresh, uncut heads of cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Cover loosely with a plastic bag or use perforated bags. Do not wash cabbage before storing, the extra moisture will hasten deterioration.
- Green cabbage — Green cabbage is sometimes called Dutch White. The outer leaves are dark green and the inner leaves are smooth and pale to medium green. If you plan to eat the cabbage raw, use within a few days. Cabbage that you plan to cook can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
- Savoy cabbage — Crinkly, with waves of blue-green leaves, Savoy cabbage is a beautiful sight growing in the garden. These thin, richly flavored leaves are ideal served raw in salads or cooked. Cooked Savoys do not have the strong sulfur odor of green cabbage. Savoy only keep for about 4 days in the refrigerator so buy it when you plan to use it.
- Red cabbage — This variety is usually smaller and denser than heads of green cabbage. The flavor of red cabbage is slightly peppery and it is very susceptible to color change. Cook red cabbage with vinegar (or other acidic ingredient) or it will turn an ugly blue-gray color. Always use stainless steel knives and cookware when preparing red cabbage to prevent color changes.
Preparation & Serving
Cabbage is king of the cruciferous vegetable family. Sadly, many think of cabbage as an odoriferous and unpleasant vegetable. Cooked cabbage has been wrongfully accused of smelling-up kitchens and hallways everywhere. But don’t blame the cabbage, blame the cook. The notorious odor problem is a result of over cooking. Cabbage contains isothiocynates that break down into smelly sulfur compounds during cooking. The reaction is even stronger in aluminum pans. The longer the cabbage is cooked the more smelly the compounds become. The solution; a brief cooking time. Cook just until tender and use stainless steel pots and pans.
There is another adverse effect associated with cabbage — gas. Bacteria that live naturally in the intestinal tract degrade the dietary fiber (indigestible carbohydrates) in cabbage, producing gas that some find distressing. In spite of this unpopular side effect, cabbage offers huge benefits that cannot be ignored.
One medium head (2-1/2 pounds) of green cabbage yields 9 cups shredded raw and 7 cups cooked. The top portion of the cabbage head is more tender and shreds easier than the bottom. If it is practical, cut the head horizontal and use the top, raw in salads and slaw and use the bottom half in cooked recipes.