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Cabbage is a green leafy vegetable obtained from an herbaceous plant. Cabbage has a very short stem that is covered with a mass of leaves. These leaves are usually green in color with a coating of ‘bloom’ that is waxy and powdery. Some varieties of cabbage have red or purple leaves also. In the matured state, cabbage leaves form a globular structure that is referred to as cabbage head. Cabbage dishes are very commonly served as side dishes or cabbage leaves are often used to make various snacks such as cabbage roll. Cabbage salad, corned beef with cabbage and coleslaw are the most popular cabbage recipes and are well-liked in international cuisine.

History of Cabbage

Wild mustard is the leafy plant that has given the birth to the cultivated cabbage and it is believed to be the native of the seacoast of Mediterranean region. Greeks and Romans used to call it ‘sea cabbage’ or ‘wild cabbage’. According to Cato, a Roman statesman, cabbage is one of the highly nutritious vegetables.

Culinary Use of Cabbage

Cabbage as the maligned vegetable has a considerable reputation in culinary world. Cabbage dishes are often made with raw cabbage as it is extremely nutritious in raw form. Soups and stews are also make good use of cabbage. Cabbage is also an integral part of cold salads. Many cabbage recipes call for boiled and shredded cabbage. Cabbage leaves are often used as a whole to garnish meat and vegetable dishes. Big leaves are ideal for making rolls and for stuffing. With so many roles to play, cabbage is a highly demanded vegetable in global cuisines.

Popular Cabbage Recipes

Some of the most popular cabbage recipes are as follows:

• Kimchi Salad – This is a most popular Korean cabbage dish made with cabbage leaves and other salad vegetables. It has a little sweet taste with tangy dressing.

• Coleslaw – This is one of the most famous cabbage recipes that includes shredded cabbage. It is often served with sandwiches and cold meats.

• Kugel – It is a baked dish often served as a dessert or as a side dish.

• Garbure – A popular cabbage soup cooked with bacon and other vegetables.

• Cabbage roll – It is a kind of dolma, that is a Middle Eastern cabbage recipe. To make this dish, cabbage leaves are parboiled and frozen before stuffing with ground meat or vegetables.

Cuisines Commonly Making Cabbage Recipes

Cabbage dishes are commonly served in Central and Eastern Europe. One of the most popular European cabbage recipes is ‘cabbage soup’. Cabbage soup has many variations that are popular in French, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. The Chinese cuisine also makes good use of cabbage in raw or cooked form. Various Chinese stir-fry dishes include shredded or chopped cabbage. In Middle Eastern cuisine, cabbage rolls are quiet popular and German sauerkraut is world famous.

Preferred Methods for Making Cabbage Dishes

• Boiling – Cabbage leaves are boiled to make soups and stews.

• Baked – Baked cabbage dishes are served as desserts. Kugel can also be served as a dessert

• Stir-fried – Shredded cabbage is stir-fried to make several side dishes as well as main cabbage dishes.

• Pickled – Pickled cabbage dishes are made by fermenting cabbage leaves either in sour cream or in vinegar with sugar.

• Shredded – Cabbage leaves are finely shredded to make salads and coleslaw.

• Par-boiled – Leaves of cabbage are parboiled to make rolls.

Nutritive Value of Cabbage

Cabbage is highly nutritious and it was proved long time back at the time of ancient Romans. Some of the health benefits and nutritional properties of cabbage and cabbage dishes are mentioned below:

• Cabbage is a vitamin-rich food which contains very less calories.

• The green cabbage is particularly rich in vitamins C, K and E.

• Potassium, beta carotene, fiber, folate and thiamine are also present in abundance in cabbage leaves.

• Cabbage recipes are also advised to be consumed by people suffering from gastric ulcers. Cabbage heals the ulcer and gives relief in pain.

• Cabbage also helps to speed up the metabolism in women and thus give protection against the breast and ovarian cancer.

Consumption Criteria of Cabbage

Cabbage juice is considered extremely helpful in treating various diseases. However, if consumed in excess, the juice inhibits the absorption of iron in body. This situation may lead to anemia. Cabbage dishes consumed in excess can also cause flatulence.

Buying and Storage of Cabbage

Limp and yellowish leaves should be avoided while buying cabbage. Cabbage having tightly packed leaves is always better to buy. No cracks or molds should be seen on the cabbage. It is recommended to not cut the cabbage until it is to be used. Otherwise the moisture and freshness of cabbage might be loosed. Cabbage should always be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in a plastic sheet. Cut cabbage dishes should be consumed within 2-3 days.

Types of Cabbage

• Green cabbage – This is the most common variety of cabbage that has pale green leaves. This is an ideal choice for soups and stews.

• Red cabbage – Its color is actually deep purple but its taste is similar to that of green cabbage. It is mainly used in pickles and salads.

• Napa cabbage – It has crinkled leaves in light green color. Ideally cooked in stir-fried cabbage dishes.

• Bok choy or Chinese cabbage – It has white stem and green leaves. Taste of bok choy is similar to celery.

• Savory cabbage – the yellowish colored crinkled leaves are the distinguished features of savory cabbage.

It is best used as garnish or as a steamed vegetable.

Cabbage Trivia

• One of the medicinal uses of cabbage is to treat wounds in infants.

• California witnessed the largest production of cabbage in 2005.