WHAT IS CABBAGE?
A leafy vegetable that forms a tight head. Cabbages can be green or purple and vary in size from heads only 15cm across to heads as large as 30cm in diameter. Green and red cabbage have smooth leaves; savoy cabbage has wrinkled leaves.
HOW IS CABBAGE PRODUCED?
Cabbage is grown in fields. It can be seeded in a greenhouse for an early crop. The transplants are set out 30 to 50 days after seeding, when the plants are about 15cm high. Before setting out, the seedling is hardened off. This means stressing the young plant so it gets used to the harsher conditions in a field. Cabbage can be seeded directly into a seed bed when the weather is warm enough. Early varieties of cabbage mature about 70 days after transplanting. The main crop matures in 75 to 80 days and storage varieties can take up to 130 days. When cabbage is harvested it is cut by hand or by a machine near the base with a few outer leaves left for protection.
WHAT DOES CABBAGE LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Cabbage is used raw in salads, such as coleslaw, as a cooked vegetable, or preserved in pickles or sauerkraut. Cabbage is 90% water and an excellent source of minerals, vitamin A and C and the B vitamins.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE CABBAGE LEAVES THE FARM?
Cabbage can, if handled properly, be kept fresh for a long time after harvesting. Early cabbage harvested through the summer months is harvested, graded and cooled and then shipped directly to wholesalers for distribution to retail stores. Much of the fall cabbage is harvested and placed into refrigerated cold storage where it can be kept for several months and shipped as the market requires.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO CABBAGE PRODUCERS FACE?
Cabbage is a difficult crop to grow because it is susceptible to many insect and disease pests. Many growers practise IPM (integrated pest management) whereby they hire scouts to inspect their crops carefully every week so that they know if and when pest outbreaks are occurring. Crop rotation is used to minimize pest buildup. Pesticides are essential for the production of healthy crops, but are used only when necessary.
WHO’S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING CABBAGE?
Farm owner and manager
Farm machine suppliers
Cooperative packing plant workers
Serving Size: (1/12 medium head green cabbage/1 cup red cabbage)
Calories from Fat 0 %
Daily Value* Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 20/30mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 5/4g 2/1%
Dietary Fibre 2/1g 8/3%
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 70%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Interesting Fact About Cabbage:
Cabbage belongs to a class of vegetables called Brassica, also known as cruciferous vegetables because their flowers are cross-shaped. Other crucifers are broccoli, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Medical researchers are finding that vegetables in the cabbage family contain compounds which assist in preventing several types of cancer.
Green and purple cabbages, which need no introduction, are only the beginning. Even the ruffled Savoys, or the compact Danishes or Hollanders, are reasonably familiar. But the proliferation of Asian cabbages, with their special uses and subtle differences, is sure to exasperate any label maker, let alone consumer. Under the category Chinese cabbages, we find — for starters — the slightly crinkled Nappa (or Napa), the tall Michihli (also called celery cabbage), the flat cabbage, the flowering white cabbage, Pe-tsai, Tai-sai, Lei-choi, and Pakchoi, also known as bok choy.
In Chinese, the word for “vegetable” is choi, which is the same word for cabbage, so we get some idea of the enormity of the category. Kohlrabi (also known as cabbage turnip and stem cabbage) is a member of the same species. Its tender leaves — delicious stir-fried or raw in salads — are usually missing by the time the vegetable reaches the market, but the swollen stem has a natural sweetness that is excellent raw as well as lightly steamed. Usually white or ivory-colored, kohlrabi also comes in pink to lavender varieties, with graceful names like Purple Danube and Early Vienna. Altogether, these cabbages provide a vast culinary resource. With an infinite number of cabbages, we could always make superlative coleslaw (try a Savoy), pickled cabbage (use one of the reds or purples) or a fragrant stir-fry (look for baby bok choy).
The cabbage has a place in almost every cuisine from Korean kim chee, German sauerkraut, and Irish colcannon, to New England corned beef and cabbage. Kohlrabi is popular in Austrian, German, and Eastern European soups and stews; in Chinese dishes, where it often substitutes for the similar-tasting Chinese broccoli; and in the American South, where it joins any gathering of mixed boiled greens.
Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cook Book (1886) advised cooking it in any recipe for turnips or serving it uncooked and sliced, like radishes. In the first cookbook written by an American (1796), Amelia Simmons addressed the subject with a certain helplessness: “Cabbage requires a page, they are so multifarious.” They are also not her favorite multifarious vegetable, as we may surmise from her next comment: “If grown in an old town and in old gardens, they have a rankness, which at times, may be perceived by a fresh air traveller.” This “rankness,” as she calls it, was no discovery of hers. For centuries, the highly odoriferous quality of cabbage has kept it from gracing polite dinner tables, especially if the tables are located anywhere near the kitchen. A boiling cabbage head is no secret to any nearby nose.
The fact that modern science has explained such antisocial emissions as simply a release of hydrogen sulfide fails to render them any the more fragrant. In fact, the longer cabbage is cooked, the greater the amount of hydrogen sulfide produced. This is not exactly news, as we can tell from the ancient Greek saying “Cabbage twice cooked is death.” Naturally, the clever cook has always known what cabbage needs. According to the 1803 Almanach des Gourmands, when cooking cabbage, “Everything depends on the seasoning. It is thus that the most vulgar phrases are ennobled by the pen of a great poet.” Closer to home, Mrs. Rorer advised boiling young cabbage for one hour, older cabbage for two, always with a piece of chili pepper “to diminish the unpleasant odor.” Despite these olfactory drawbacks, cabbage has been quite popular for the last 2,500 years. La Varenne, chef to Henry IV and France’s first important gastronomic writer, included five recipes for cabbage in his seminal work, Le Cuisinier Francais (1651).
The Romans cultivated it and some of them, like Cato, ate it before and after meals, a practice he advised to his countrymen: “It will make you feel as if you had not eaten,” he assured them, “and you can drink as much as you like.” Because of its more delicate nature, kohlrabi has escaped much of this controversy.
It has also escaped the notice of a fair number of cooks. Richard Gehman’s The Haphazard Gourmet designated it “most underrated vegetable” — a dubious honor we hereby hope to rectify.
Consumer and Cooking Guide Market Selection Cabbage varieties include green, red, Savoy, and Napa. Kohlrabi is generally green, but newer varieties of red kohlrabi are available.
The outer leaves of cabbage should be blemish-free and have good color for the variety. Cabbages should feel heavy and compact. Kohlrabi should have smallish firm bulbs with fresh-looking leaves. Availability Cabbage-year-round; kohlrabi-June through November Storage Both may be refrigerated in plastic bags for up to 1 week. Flavor Enhancers Apples, pears, raisins, curry, caraway, dill
Equivalents one 1 1/2 pound cabbage = 8 cups, shredded Nutritional Value Good source of vitamin C and potassium 20 calories per cup-cabbage 40 calories per cup-kohlrabi Basic Cooking Methods Cook, cut into wedges, in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes. Steam for 12 minutes.