Cabbage is a leafy green or purple biennial plant that's high in nutritional benefits like sulfur and Vitamin C. Considered a superfood, cabbage was once thought of as "moon power" by ancient healers because of its growth in the moonlight. Countries like China and Russia celebrate the leafy vegetable in unique ways. For example, the Chinese have said for centuries that white cabbage cures baldness in males, and Russia even claimed it as their national food, eating it roughly seven times as much your typical North American.
Types of Cabbage
Cabbage comes in several colors and variations, including cultivar groups like savoy, spring greens, green, red and white. You'll know the difference by color and texture. Savoy cabbage has crimped and curly leaves, a mild taste and a tender touch. Spring greens are loose, often sliced and steamed. The most commonly grown group is green cabbage, which ranges from a light to dark hue and has a bit of a pointed look. Those wanting to pickle or stew their cabbage should go after smooth red cabbage leaves, but there is also white and Dutch cabbage to consider.
How to Cut a Head of Cabbage
Cabbage is typically cut into wedges or coarsely chopped. Before chopping, it's important to prepare the cabbage by removing the outer leaves of the head and rinsing it thoroughly in water. To cut a head of cabbage into perfect wedges, which will stay together nicely, each wedge must have some of the core. You can make about six wedges with a medium sized cabbage, and it's recommended to have a large, sharp knife and a cutting board.
Follow these quick instructions for cabbage wedges:
- Trim the outer leaves and excess stem from a head of cabbage and wash with water.
- After drying, stand the cabbage on its stem end on a cutting board and cut it in half.
- Lay each half of cabbage on its cut side and cut it into two to four wedges, making sure each cut goes through the core, in order for the leaves to be held together.
Cabbage is versatile and can be cooked in many ways. The leafy green vegetable can be boiled, sautéd, steamed and even thrown in the microwave. Steaming often takes the longest (10 to 12 minutes), while boiling can take around six to eight minutes if cut into wedges. However, if you're using cabbage wedges, steaming is the best method.
It makes a big difference whether you're cutting the cabbage into wedges or chopping it up because cooking time changes dramatically. For instance, microwaving the wedges takes nine to 11 minutes, but chopped cabbage only takes four to six minutes. Regardless, cabbage that is finely sliced is best sautéd with a little bit of oil.
Do more than just sauté or steam your cabbage. You can simply mix in some butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper, or you can go all out. For example, cabbage soup, cabbage rolls and Polish stuffed cabbage are all popular dishes.