November Is the Time to Enjoy Cabbage–Here Are My Favorite Types of Cabbage to Try

For this month’s in-season pick, we’re diving into all the types of cabbage.

cabbage

Cabbage is often associated with an image of stuffed cabbage or hot cabbage soup in freezing temps–and for good reason. The crop itself thrives in cold temperatures, is very affordable, and is easy to grow, so it quickly earned its reputation as a cheap meal. But there’s so much more to this cost-effective, versatile, and dare-we-say delicious vegetable, and that’s why it’s our must-try in-season produce in November at the farmers’ market.

Though cabbage can grow year-round, the fall is when you get the best product, explains Lee Jones, a farmer from The Chef’s Garden. This is because the cooler temperatures create higher sugar and moisture levels, allowing for a sweeter, crispier vegetable, he adds. You’ll likely start seeing them around Octoberfest and in classic dishes at events for the fall harvest, agrees Debra Moser, co-founder of Central Farm Markets in Washington D.C.

“I like to get cabbage at the farmers’ market over the supermarket because it has a higher moisture content,” says Juliet Glass, director of communications at FRESHFARM, a non-profit that operates producer-only farmers’ markets in the Mid-Atlantic region. This is because a supermarket cabbage was likely harvested weeks prior and traveled many miles to get to your store, ultimately losing a lot of moisture in the process, she says.

Cabbage’s main claim-to-fame is the high amounts of vitamin C, a health benefit that can help support the immune system and help the body absorb non-heme iron (the type of iron that comes from plants instead of animal products) which allows the body utilize the iron properly, says Shana Minei Spence, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N, a registered dietitian based in New York. Just one cup of shredded cabbage has about 26 mg of vitamin C, about 34% of the daily recommended amount for women, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Is Cabbage Good For You?

Cabbage is part of the family that includes broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, so its nutritional profile is very similar to those veggies, Spence says. It contains a high amount of vitamin K and vitamin A, which helps with vision. Cabbage also provides iron, which is part of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from our lungs throughout our bodies, and riboflavin, which helps with cellular respiration, she adds. If that’s not enough, cabbage is a super cost-effective, low-calorie, and fibrous way to increase your vegetable intake.

“I love cabbage, and it’s so good for you in terms of bulking up every plate because there’s so much fiber,” says Glass. “You’re going to feel full and satisfied.”

And there are actually tons of cabbage types on the market. But no matter the variety you pick, they all have the quintessential “cabbage flavor” of vegetal and slightly sweet that varies ever so slightly between types, says Moser.

How Long Does Cabbage Last?

Cabbage will last a couple of weeks in the fridge, but Moser says you should eat the veg sooner rather than later for the most nutritional value. To store, keep the cabbage whole and wrap in paper towels, a plastic bag, or a reusable bag or towel to keep in the moisture, she suggests.

When you’re preparing your cabbage, feel free to peel the outer leaves (you can save these for stocks, soups, or pickling), Moser says. If you plan to use the individual leaves (to stuff with a filling), you’ll want to wash each layer. If not, you can cut it into quarters and run it under cold water, she adds. The core can be a little tough, so if you’re eating the cabbage raw, you may want to remove the core, Glass notes, but it’ll soften if cooked and can be kept intact.

Types of Cabbage

Standard green cabbage

You’ll see this at the supermarket as the classic round, green cabbage head, Glass says. These are great options for whole-leaf applications, like stuffed cabbage, because the leaves are larger. They’re not as bitter as savoy cabbage, but not as sweet as a conehead, says Jones.

When picking one out, look for nice and firm outer leaves. “The leaves should look nice and not rotten,” Glass says. A fresh red or green cabbage will also have a squeaky sound when handled, adds Jones. “You can take two heads of the cabbage and when you pick them up together, they have a squeaky sound to them,” he says.

Then, be sure to eye the outer leaves and be sure the cabbage is intact. Some distributors will peel the outer leaves or trim them back to hide the fact that it’s an older vegetable, Jones warns. “The protective outer leaves that look like they’re in good shape means that it’s better,'' he says.

Last but not least, you can tell how fresh cabbage is by the base where it’s been cut from the stalk, Jones adds. If there’s browning at the bottom, it was harvested longer ago and has started to oxidize and wilt, he warns.

Green cabbage is especially delicious slow-cooked in a pan with just a touch of salt and olive oil for a delicious, velvety, and caramelized side dish, Moser suggests. You can also grill wedges of cabbage with a little olive oil for the same effect, Glass adds.

Red cabbage

Similar in flavor to the standard green cabbage, red cabbage (or purple cabbage) is great for adding color to dishes. This variety has a nice sweet flavor and tends to be a little crunchier than green cabbage, Glass says. She warns that this type of cabbage can sometimes turn blue when stir-fried (though it’s totally fine to eat), so be aware of the color change.

Try braising a red cabbage in butter, red wine, and garlic cloves and serve alongside a protein, Glass suggests. She’s particularly fond of this Patricia Wells recipe and mentions it won’t turn blue in this cooking method.

Conehead cabbage

Also called conical cabbage, arrowhead cabbage, or oxheart cabbage, Glass says it’s less common to find at farmers’ markets and even harder to find in grocery stores. They’re sweeter and smaller than a standard green cabbage and have a distinct cone-like shape, she says.

Shred these up into a raw cabbage slaw to make the most out of their delicious flavor. “If you see them, you should try them,” she encourages. Combine with grated carrots, and something green (like kale) and add a dressing of rice vinegar, herbs, salt, pepper, and oil for a weeknight slaw, says Glass. Or try this coconut-lime slaw served with grilled chicken.

Savoy cabbage

Notable for their crinkled leaves, savoy cabbage can be a little bitter raw, but delicious in a soup like minestrone or Italian vegetable, Glass says. “My favorite cabbage is the savoy cabbage,” Jones agrees. “You get deeper colors, almost like a dinosaur kale.”

Add cabbage to soups for a cheap and nutritious way to bulk up a meal. Plus, they’re super easy to freeze and reheat when it’s the middle of winter and you want a hot bowl of soup, Moser says. Simply shred the cabbage and add it at the end of your cooking time, Glass adds.

For loose-leaf cabbage types, like savoy cabbage, just be sure the leaves look vibrant and don’t have any black or soft spots. It’s fine if the outer leaves are a little wilted because you’ll likely strip those anyway, according to FoodPrint, a project led by GRACE Communications Foundation to increase public awareness of current food systems and advocate for sustainable alternatives.

Napa cabbage

This light-colored cabbage can be found at supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and Asian markets, Glass says. It has a mild taste and looks and behaves almost like a Romaine lettuce, so it’s perfect for a salad or to add bulk at the end of a cabbage stir fry, she notes.

If you can’t seem to finish your fall selection of cabbage, grab a jar and ferment the cabbage just like a pickle, Moser says. The cabbage will soften up while fermenting, so it’s a great way to use up excess outer leaves and the core, she adds. If you have a particularly water-heavy cabbage, salting it into sauerkraut is a great use of the moisture, Glass agrees.

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Food & Nutrition