The Humble Cabbage

The humble cabbage is nutrient dense, rich in fiber, versatile in the kitchen, and has the added benefit of being oh-so-very affordable. It is theorized that the cabbage was domesticated as early as 1000 BC by the Celts in Europe, with world production now over 70 million metric tons each year! With significant servings of vitamins C and K, as well as vitamin B6, folate, and dietary fiber, it is no wonder humanity embraced the cabbage family so long ago.

All those years of cultivation gave rise to cabbages of many shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. The vegetable can be categorized by leaf type: a crinkled-leaf, loose-head savoy or a smooth-leaf firm-head cabbage. Color varies from the usual light green to white, dark green, and the always vibrant red or purple varieties.

Over the course of the cabbage’s long history, humans have concocted plenty of ways to eat it. To name a few, we like to consume this cruciferous vegetable raw, steamed, stewed, sautéed, braised, and pickled. With so many options, surely there’s a cabbage dish for everyone. Try cabbage raw in a flavorful Curried Coleslaw or in Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Or braised in an Indian Braised Red Cabbage recipe. Or stewed in Unstuffed Cabbage or Sausage and Cabbage Stew. Or simply steam or sauté it with a little butter, salt, and pepper. And don’t forget to ferment (or pickle) some cabbage into sauerkraut. Tangy and full of gut-friendly probiotics, a good kraut is good on everything. Learning to make sauerkraut is also an easy and adventurous step into the world of fermentation. If you feel tickled to pickle, check out the book Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey, our neighbors over in Applegate, Oregon.

The humble cabbage hides its wealth of nutrients and culinary applications in layers of unassuming leaves, but don’t let that fool you. Pick up some cabbage, a hearty vegetable staple, on your next visit to the co-op!