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Vivacious Veggies

Cabbage

This member of the Brassica family has its origins in Western Europe around the Mediterranean Sea, where it evolved from leafy kale-like plants. Cabbages were likely domesticated about 2,000 years ago, before which they were collected from the wild, primarily for medicinal purposes.  Cabbage dishes are great accompaniments to meat dishes. The leafy head of cabbage is often boiled in soups or stews or sliced for stir-fries, casseroles, and salads like coleslaw. It can also be pickled or fermented in brine for sauerkraut or kimchi.

While usually green, some varieties of cabbage have red or purple leaves. Usually the sphere of leaves at the center (the head) is eaten, rather than the outer leaves. Raw cabbage has a naturally peppery flavor. Cabbage has been used for centuries as a medicinal vegetable. It is believed that cabbage juice can help to heal ulcers and can act as an intestinal cleanser.  Cabbage is composed of 90% water and only contains 15 calories per one-cup serving.

Health Benefits

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K as well as calcium, potassium and magnesium. Some studies have shown that cabbage may have protective effects against colon cancer.

Storing & Cooking Information

Handling: All head cabbage should be cored before cooking or shredding. First, remove a couple of layers of the outer leaves. Then use a thin-bladed knife to cut a cone-shaped section out of the core.  To shred the head of cabbage, just cut the cabbage into quarters and cross-cut thinly; it will shred itself.

Storing: Cabbage lasts 3 weeks to 2 months in a hydrator drawer of fridge. A plastic bag is not necessary. Do not remove outer leaves before storage.

Freezing: Trim coarse outer leaves from head. Cut into medium to coarse shreds or thin wedges, or separate the head into individual leaves.  Cabbage can be frozen directly without being blanched, but for cabbage intended for sours and casseroles requiring cooked cabbage, water-blanch convenient sized wedges for 3 to 4 minutes or steam blanch them for 4 to 6 minutes. Whole leaves or shredded cabbage can be water-blanched for 1 ½ minutes. Cool promptly and drain. Place in freezer bags and freeze immediately.  Store for 10-12 months maximum.

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