The not so humble cabbage

Today, I feel inspired to write about the cabbage! Many people think of the cabbage as a bit of a poor relation in the veg world, a dull old veg and one that many of us were presented with at school in a disgustingly overcooked state. This is very unfair as cabbages are versatile, great to grow in your veg plot and good for you.

Cabbages come in many different shapes, sizes and colours and every variety has its own character, texture and flavour. With a little planning it’s possible to pick them fresh nearly every day of the year in your garden. They can be used raw in salad or coleslaw, and as ingredients in soup, boiled, steamed or braised.

The savoy cabbage, a wonderful dark green and heavily textured individual, is wonderful when slowly braised with onion and finished off with a dash of cream. You can also give it a quick plunge in boiling salted water and then toss it with butter and black pepper, simple but so delicious.

Other thick-leaved cabbages, such as January kings, are excellent for using as wrapping and making parcels for meat stuffings.

The pale green pointed spring cabbages have sweet, delicate leaves that are tender enough to stir fry or even char on a griddle.

In contrast, red cabbage is sturdy and tightly packed and traditionally used for pickling. Braised red cabbage has become immensely popular as a Christmas vegetable when cooked slowly with red wine, cinnamon, apples or cranberry. It is also superb for adding some colour to a boring winter salad when shredded finely.

Last, but not least… the classic white cabbage! A tightly packed, football-sized bundle of excellence it is the mainstay of coleslaw, a popular healthy salad at any time of the year and certainly one of my favourites.

Cabbage is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and is a good source of fibre, so it’s a good way to fill yourself up for very little calories. What’s more, it is a good source of vitamin C and vitamin K. We all know how important vitamin C is in our diet, while vitamin K makes bones stronger, healthier and delays osteoporosis. Like other green vegetables, cabbage helps provide many essential vitamins such as riboflavin, pantothenic acid and thiamine that we need for a balanced diet.

So if you tend to think cabbage is a bit of a dullard, please think again and, if you can, try growing some yourself – they taste even better!

5 replies
  1. Rosemarie says:

    Ah I well remember school cabbage, yum yum. My mother in law had the same approach to cabbage and sprouts. She would start cooking them about two days before they were needed resulting in a green slim. You are right though about cabbage and the older I get the more I appreciate it. My favourite is white cabbage. Just on its own. I can happily munch on it all day.

  2. Mary Huggins says:

    I quite often cook my green cabbage this way and many people have asked how I do it.
    Shred cabbage then place in a pan of melted butter and crushed garlic cloves. Turn the heat down really low keep tossing the cabbage every few minutes. When it is soft enough add some soft cream cheese with herb and garlic flavour and cream, stir until mixed all together. Delicious !

  3. Susan says:

    I love it stir fried with caraway seeds. I have some spring cabbage growing on my allotment which I planted in between my blackcurrants in the fruit cage as pigeons love them too. That was back in September – they do take some time to harvest but well worth the wait (if the slugs don’t get them first, of course)!

  4. Sue Collins says:

    All look very tempting. Coleslaw & red cabbage are my favourites & both with walnuts in. Red cabbage is particularly nice at Christmas & not just the taste but the colour as well. A rich burgundy red is always very festive.


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