Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cabbage - a year of food by the season

I grew red cabbage in the garden for the second year in a row and it did really well.  It is a cold weather crop (don't get me going!) and can survive some early frosts.  I like that it is a ready to harvest this time of year when most of the other vegetables have come and gone. The photo here is taken mid-July amongst early onions.

Slugs eventually move in and start eating the cabbage so I pick what we haven't yet eaten around the third week of October. 

Split open my pretty red cabbage reminds me of pagan goddesses at a moon worship ceremony. I know, I have an active imagination!


You can benefit from eating more cabbage. I noticed in Mexico that they serve tacos and many dishes with finely shredded cabbage, and not lettuce, as we do here. I also saw Jamaicans eat a lot of raw shredded cabbage as salad with meals.

Cabbage is high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable as are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. The cruciferous are rich in a variety of compounds which may slow cancer growth and development in humans. The indole-3-carbinol (indoles) are linked to the anti-carcinogenic effects. It may also protect against oxidative stress in the brain and Alzheimer's disease. Red cabbage also contains polyphenols and anthocyanins which give added antioxidant properties.

Cabbage is low in calories and high in vitamins K and C and is a good source of fibre, vitamin B6, folate, and manganese. Red cabbage has 3 times as much vitamin C as its green sister.

Fermented foods, like sauerkraut and Kim chi are both made from cabbage. They are all the rage these days and add healthy probiotic bacteria to your digestive tract.  I have had requests to offer a course on making healthy probiotic foods and I hope to do this in 2010.


I find red cabbage sweeter and prettier to look at compared to green cabbbage. All cabbage goes well with apples, onions, leeks, parsley and potatoes. Condiments such as horseradish, mustard and vinegar go well with the distinct flavour of cabbage.  I especially like it in coleslaws and tossed into salads. Cooked cabbage is great in soups, casseroles and stir-fries. In fact, shredded cabbage is a great substitute for bean sprouts in Asian recipes like Pad Thai. You can make a simple cabbage stir fry with olive oil, minced onion, shredded apple and some caraway seed. I sometimes add grated potato. Finish it with freshly ground black pepper and a generous splash of apple cider vinegar.

Boiling cabbage releases sulfur compounds and the odour which many people find unpleasant.  Eat raw or cook quickly for less smell.  To prevent red cabbage from turning blue during cooking add vinegar, apples, wine or other acids. Stir-frying cabbage quickly will also eliminate the odour problem.

Our next cooking class is "La Cucina Italian" Saturday November 7th from 2-6 p.m.  For menu and registration visit me on the web. Our 2010 calendar is under construction and I have added new theme dinner classes and gluten free cooking classes.
© Nancy Guppy, RD, MHSc
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