Cabbage is one of those vegetables that gets a bad rep.
Once you’ve had badly prepared or unseasoned cabbage that is squishy, wet, sulfurous, or slimy, you’ll want to get as far away from the cabbage as you possibly can.
However, if cabbage is prepared well, it can be an amazingly tasty and incredibly nutritious addition to your diet. You could fall in love with the taste of cabbage.
In this article, we’ll take a look at cabbage: what is it, what does it taste like, and how can you best enjoy it for yourself?
What Is Cabbage?
Cabbage is a member of the Brassicaceae family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
Europeans have been using cabbage as a central part of their cuisine since around 1000 BC, when the first records of cabbage domestication and cultivation came about.
Cabbage was considered a delicacy in the Roman Empire, and was probably an uninterrupted staple in northern Europe, becoming much more popular in the 16th and 17th centuries with the popularization of Savoy cabbage.
Cabbage gets its name from the Latin “capitata” which means “to have a head.”
The average head of cabbage weighs between 1 and 2 pounds, but in certain areas with long growing seasons, cabbage can become very large. A record-setting cabbage weighed more than 60 kg.
What Does Cabbage Look Like?
There are different types of cabbage with different external appearances, but the standard green cabbage most people are familiar with looks like a very dense ball slightly smaller than a human head in most cases, which is quite heavy with layer on top of layer of thick and fibrous leaves.
There are also red cabbage and yellow cabbage, as well as other varieties, but they look similar in that they are dense and heavy balls of overlapping cabbage leaves.
What Texture Does Cabbage Have?
Raw cabbage has a tough and somewhat crunchy texture. To eat raw cabbage, it’s a good idea to slice it as thin as possible, like it is sliced for coleslaw. This makes it easier to chew and enjoy.
When cabbage is steamed, baked, or sauteed, it takes on a different texture. The crunchy leaves soften and become tender, absorbing any liquid or spices they are cooked in and taking on those flavors.
Types Of Cabbage
There are many different types of cabbage available commercially, although green cabbage is the most popular.
These types of cabbage include
- Danish ballhead
- Bok Choy
- January King
Where Does Cabbage Come From?
Cabbage has been cultivated for human consumption since 1000 BC at the latest, but research indicates that even before that cabbage came from the mustard plant.
Cruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower can all trace their origins back to the simple mustard plant, which is the ancestor of these other members of the Brassica genus.
The current theory is that humans selectively bred the mustard plant for different attributes, eventually creating distinct vegetables that all worked their way into our cuisine.
Today, cabbage is grown around the world. It is a versatile and profitable crop that grows well in a variety of climates and can be grown locally rather than imported from the United States and Europe.
Is Cabbage Healthy?
Cabbage is an extraordinarily healthy food, and adding it to your meals is almost guaranteed to improve your health.
Packed with important vitamins and minerals, cabbage is a nutrient-rich food that can help to meet many of your daily requirements.
Cabbage is loaded with Vitamin C to help boost your immune system and get over colds, as well as other important nutrients like Vitamin K and folate.
Cabbage also contains important antioxidants that can reduce your risk of cancer and decrease inflammation.
There is also a lot of fiber in cabbage, which can keep you regular and help to grow your microbiome, so you can absorb as much nutrition as possible from the foods you eat.
Cabbage can lower your “bad” cholesterol, through soluble fiber and plant sterols, which both work to increase your “good” cholesterol while minimizing the “bad”.
A regular habit of eating cabbage can help you lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
There is a lot to praise about cabbage as a healthy part of your diet, so if eating cabbage is something you enjoy, there are plenty of reasons to eat more of it.
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What Are The Dangers Of Eating Cabbage?
If you are going into surgery, you need to stop eating cabbage about 2 weeks ahead of your surgery date.
This is because cabbage can cause fluctuations in blood glucose levels that can interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgical procedures.
If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), cabbage might not be for you, or it might be something that you want to carefully monitor and eat in moderation.
Cabbage is high in fructans, a type of sugar that some people who have IBS have trouble digesting. If you suffer from IBS, think twice before heaping cabbage onto your plate.
Some research suggests that eating cabbage can affect the thyroid gland, and even contribute to hypothyroidism.
If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you should talk to your doctor. They could recommend that you find an alternative to cabbage.
How Do You Eat Cabbage?
There are many ways to eat cabbage, and none of them are wrong!
You can eat cabbage raw, and savor the crunch and the bitter, peppery flavor.
You can steam cabbage, boil it, bake it, broil it, braise it, barbecue it, saute it, or ferment it.
How Can I Store Cabbage?
You can store the whole, unrinsed cabbage in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
If you cut into the head of cabbage it will begin to lose Vitamin C and it will spoil faster, so avoid this unless you need to cut into a head of cabbage to use a part of it for a recipe.
Once a head of cabbage has been cut into, it will remain fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
If you cook your head of cabbage by boiling it and shocking it in cold water, it will last in your refrigerator for 5-7 days.
Can You Freeze Cabbage?
Yes! You can freeze cabbage for up to 6 months.
You can put a head of raw, uncut cabbage into the freezer in a sealed plastic bag and it will do the trick, but if you want to retain more flavor, immerse your cabbage in boiling water for just a minute or two before dropping it into a pot of cold water to shock it.
This will help to preserve the flavor through the freezing process.
How To Tell If Cabbage Is Bad?
If you have been holding onto cabbage for a while and you’re not sure whether it has spoiled, a quick investigation should reveal what you’re looking for.
Spoiled cabbage has an off smell. It might be subtle at first, but it smells faintly of decay.
You might also notice some discoloration and yellowing on the outer leaves. Initially, they seemed green and strong. Now they are yellowing and limp.
You can cut into the head of the cabbage to see whether the entire thing needs to be thrown away or whether you can salvage it by cutting off the outer leaves. However, it’s a good idea to follow the policy “when in doubt, throw it out.”
If your cabbage has been sitting around long enough for the outer leaves to yellow and soften, the inside of your cabbage is likely getting older and less tasty, too.
Cabbage Vs. Lettuce
If you hold up a cabbage next to a head of iceberg lettuce, you might be tempted to say that they are related, at least distantly. They are both spherical heads of leaves that grow out of the ground.
However, the differences between cabbage and lettuce vastly outweigh the similarities.
Lettuce has much higher water content and is much easier to chew when raw. However, this means that lettuce breaks down and becomes limp and soggy in dishes where cabbage holds its integrity and shines.
While cabbage has a bitter, peppery taste, lettuce tastes watery and slightly sweet.
Although cabbage and lettuce look a little bit alike and are frequently confused, they aren’t even that closely related. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, and has more in common with broccoli or cauliflower than it does with a head of lettuce.
Cabbage Nutritional Information
|Per 1 cup (89g) of raw green cabbage, according to Healthline.com|
|Vitamin K||85% of the RDI|
|Vitamin C||54% of the RDI|
|Folate||10% of the RDI|
|Manganese||7% of the RDI|
|Vitamin B6||6% of the RDI|
|Calcium||4% of the RDI|
|Potassium||4% of the RDI|
|Magnesium||3% of the RDI|
Quick Table: Cabbage Recipes
|Cabbage Rolls||469||1 hour 15 minutes|
|Roasted Cabbage Wedges With Onion Dijon Sauce||140||25 minutes|
|Salu Salo Cabbage Soup||134||1 hour|
You haven’t experienced cabbage unless you have had cabbage rolls. The classic recipe calls for seasoned meat to be wrapped in a skin of soft cabbage.
If you make cabbage rolls the right way and get the texture perfect, this is possibly the most delicious recipe for cabbage out there.
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
This classy dish could be served to family, friends, and guests at a dinner party, or enjoyed by yourself on a Saturday afternoon.
The roasting process brings out interesting flavors in the cabbage, and the charred bits are perfectly complemented by this sweet and delicious onion Dijon sauce.
Total Preparation Time: 25 minutes
One thing I love about cabbage is that it can hold up even when it is cooked in a soup or a stew, and it maintains a soft but firm texture. In this lovely soup, cabbage is the main ingredient and the flavor comes through strongly.
If you are a cabbage lover and you want to enjoy the flavors in the purest way possible, make yourself a heartwarming bowl of this soup!
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Cabbage Have Taste?
Yes, cabbage has a taste, especially when it’s raw. There is a distinct bitterness and peppery quality to cabbage that is unmistakable.
When cabbage is cooked it’s a little harder to identify the specific flavor because cabbage takes on the flavors of the ingredients around it. That’s part of what makes cabbage such a great team player in the kitchen.
Adding cabbage to a dish will only allow you to bring out the other flavors better.
Does Cabbage Taste Like Lettuce?
No. Although cabbage and lettuce look similar, they have very different flavors.
The lettuce is watery and slightly sweet with a green vegetal taste. Cabbage is tough, crunchy, and fibrous with a bitter, peppery taste that is very distinctive.
Does Cabbage Taste Better Than Lettuce?
This is a matter of opinion.
Cabbage is something of an acquired taste, so if you performed a taste test with children, you would probably find that lettuce wins out over cabbage. There is a bitterness and crunch to cabbage that takes some getting used to.
In contrast, lettuce is easy to enjoy with a neutral, slightly sweet flavor and a watery, crunchy texture.
Does Raw Cabbage Taste Good?
Cabbage is at its most peppery and bitter when it is raw, but this could be a good or a bad thing depending on your perspective.
There is a bright and interesting pepper flavor to raw cabbage that stands out, and you can make it easier to enjoy raw cabbage texturally by cutting it thinly into a slaw.
Many people enjoy the flavor of raw cabbage, but it is something of an acquired taste. Not everyone gets excited about the flavor of cabbage.
If you already enjoy asparagus, celery, and turnips, you might have the right kind of taste buds to enjoy the raw cabbage experience.
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