A sturdy, abundant vegetable that is rich in vitamin C, cabbage
is almost on par with potatoes as a long-standing dietary staple.
An inexpensive food that is easy to grow, almost universally
available, and keeps well, cabbage, as a member of the large
family of cruciferous vegetables, is rich in nutrients. Along
with vitamin C, it contains significant amounts of the nitrogen
compounds known as indoles, which appear to lower the risk of
various forms of cancer. Cabbage also contains a good amount
of fibre, both soluble and insoluble.
Look for solid, heavy heads of cabbage, with no more than three
or four loose "wrapper" (outer) leaves. These outer
leaves should be clean and flexible but not limp, and free of
discolored veins or caterpillar damage, which may penetrate
the interior of the head. The stem should be closely trimmed
and healthy looking, not dry or split. The inner and outer leaves
should be tightly attached to the stem. Autumn and winter cabbage
from storage are usually firmer than the fresh-picked types
sold in spring and summer. Don't buy halved or quartered heads
of cabbage, even if well wrapped: As soon as the leaves are
cut or torn, the vegetable begins to lose vitamin C.
Cabbage keeps well and retains its vitamin C if kept cold. Place
the whole head of cabbage in a perforated plastic bag and store
it in the refrigerator . An uncut head of green cabbage will
keep for at least two weeks.
Once a head of cabbage is cut, cover the cut surface tightly
with plastic wrap and use the remainder within a day or two.
Rubbing the cut surface with lemon juice will prevent it from
The interior of a head of green cabbage is nearly always clean,
but if you want to rinse it, do so shortly before cooking the
cabbage, and after you cut or chop it. To conserve its vitamin
C, don't cut up cabbage until you're ready to cook it.
When cutting cabbage into wedges, leave part of the core intact
to help hold the leaves together. However, when cabbage is to
be cut up into smaller pieces, the first step is to quarter
and core it: Cut the cabbage in quarters through the stem. Then
cut out a wedge-shape section from each quarter to remove the
stem and core.
To slice or shred cabbage, place a quarter wedge on the cutting
board, resting on its side. Slice through the wedge vertically
to cut it into wide ribbons or fine shreds. You can also grate
cabbage by hand on the coarse side of a grater, or shred it
in the food processor, using the grating disk.
Use a stainless steel knife when cutting cabbage; its juices
react with carbon steel and the cut edges of the cabbage will
Cabbage should be cooked quickly, then served as soon as possible.