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Cabbages

produce-2472015_1920 Evita Ochel from Pixabay crop long
Cabbages, including Chinese or Napa Cabbage are cool season vegetables, but you can find them in southern California markets throughout the year. They are nutritious, very low in calories and a good source of fiber. According to the National Institute on Health, these vegetables contain phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential.

See tips for using and preserving cabbages below.

Fresh Cabbage

Excerpts from University of Illinois Extension, Cabbage

Selection and Storage

Look for tight, heavy heads, free of insects and decay. Fresh, uncut heads of cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Cover loosely with a plastic bag or use perforated bags. Do not wash cabbage before storing, the extra moisture will hasten deterioration.

Preparation and Serving

The top portion of the cabbage head is more tender and shreds easier than the bottom. If it is practical, cut the head horizontal and use the top, raw in salads and slaw and use the bottom half in cooked recipes.

Cabbage is king of the cruciferous vegetable family. Sadly, many think of cabbage as an odoriferous and unpleasant vegetable. Cooked cabbage has been wrongfully accused of smelling-up kitchens and hallways everywhere. But don't blame the cabbage, blame the cook. The notorious odor problem is a result of over cooking... Cook just until tender and use stainless steel pots and pans.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks agrees, saying:

Cabbage is best in flavor and nutrition when eaten raw or cooked for a short period of time in a small amount of water. Overcooking tends to destroy flavor, appearance and vitamins, and it increases the sulfur odor."

Their publication FNH-00169 Alaska Grown Cabbage has more information and lots of recipes for using raw and cooked cabbage, including a Freezer Coleslaw.

Canning Cabbage

We recommend that you follow a research-tested recipe and the USDA-approved procedures when canning.

If you are new to canning or want a review of the principles of home canning or the steps to safely canning at home, read Chapter 1 of USDA "Complete Guide to Home Canning", 2015.

Steam canning is now approved for recipes designed and tested for boiling-water canners. Read the UCANR publication #8573, Guidelines for Safe Canning of Acid Foods in a Steam Canner.

UCANR, Resource for Recipes & Information lists a few of the many sources that we use.

Cabbage is a low-acid food which would require pressure canning. However, Michigan State Extension, preserving tips does not recommend canning plain cabbage "because of the possibility of discolorations and strong flavor".

The following tested boiling-water canning recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation use cabbage and add sufficient acid (in the form of vinegar) to make a high-acid food product. Follow the recipe directions exactly.

 

Freezing Fresh Cabbage

Excerpts from PennState Extension, Let's Preserve: Freezing Vegetables

Freezing is a quick, convenient, and easy method of preserving foods in the home. Frozen foods are easy to serve because most of the preparation is done before freezing. Freezing preserves nutritive quality so that frozen foods resemble fresh foods.

Successful Freezing: The five factors that are responsible for most of the quality losses of frozen foods are enzymes, air, microorganisms, large ice crystals, and evaporation of moisture... proper packaging materials helps prevent freezer burn.

Blanching Directions

  • Bring 1 gallon of water to an active boil. Lower 1 pound of vegetables into the water. Cover. Return to a boil. Start counting the blanching time when the water returns to a boil.
  • Blanching Time for Cabbage
    quarters: 4 minutes; wedges: 2 minutes; shredded: 1½ minutes
  • As soon as blanching is complete, vegetables should be cooled quickly in 3 to 4 gallons of cold water.
  • Chill at least as long as vegetables were blanched.
  • Drain.
  • Package.

Excerpt from University of Missouri Extension, How to Freeze Vegetables

Thawing and Using

  • ... greens will cook more uniformly if thawed slightly and broken apart before cooking. Thaw in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Never thaw at room temperature.
  • When cooking frozen vegetables, bring a small amount of water to boil and add the frozen vegetables. Bring water to a boil again, cover the pan, and lower the heat. Cook until vegetables are fork tender, usually about half the cooking time for the same fresh vegetable. [for] soups or stews. Add them near the end of cooking to prevent texture loss.
  • Prepare only enough frozen vegetables for one meal. Any leftovers could be used in salad. Do not refreeze frozen vegetables that have been cooked.

Fermenting Cabbage

Sauerkraut and kimchi are two condiments that are made by lactic acid fermention of cabbage and Napa cabbage, respectively.

Excerpts from Colorado State Extension, Fermented Foods

Preservation of food products by fermentation has been a part of culinary history long before the science, safety, and nutritional attributes of fermented food and beverages were fully understood.

Evidence is also increasing which indicates fermented foods can favorably alter the microbiota within the human gut, with implications for health and food safety. A number of fermentation-related materials have been developed at CSU to help in understanding the processes involved and health impacts.

Understanding and Making Sauerkraut explains what sauerkraut is and how to make it from red or green cabbage. 

Understanding and Making Kimchi gives information about kimchi and how to make it using Napa cabbage.