Cabbage Basics: Picking, Storing, Nutrition and Healthy, Oil-Free Vegan Recipes

Here are Cabbage Basic Essentials: How to pick, store, and cook healthy, oil-free vegan recipes.  When to choose organic. Plus, nutrition information on this delicious fresh vegetable.

Fresh Cabbage is a delicious, healthy vegetable. Braise, steam , or enjoy it raw for your favorite oil-free vegan recipes

Fresh Cabbage is a delicious, healthy vegetable. Braise, steam , or enjoy it raw for your favorite oil-free vegan recipes

Chef's Budget Tip: Besides potatoes, cabbage is the cheapest vegetable.  The USDA has found it to have the lowest cost per edible cup .

Chef's Budget Tip: Besides potatoes, cabbage is the cheapest vegetable.  The USDA has found it to have the lowest cost per edible cup .

Chef's Plant-Based Tip:  Braise red cabbage with apple and a touch of cider vinegar for a tangy-sweet, plant-based side dish.  It's the ultimate easy recipe, packed with antioxidants, for staying healthy over the winter

Chef's Plant-Based Tip:  Braise red cabbage with apple and a touch of cider vinegar for a tangy-sweet, plant-based side dish.  It's the ultimate easy recipe, packed with antioxidants, for staying healthy over the winter

Chef's Slow Cooker Tip: For an easy, healthy cabbage soup, combine cabbage, carrot, canned tomatoes, red beans, and vegetable stock in the Slow Cooker.  This is a healthy, satisfying, plant-based dinner.  Perfect for cold winter nights

Chef's Slow Cooker Tip: For an easy, healthy cabbage soup, combine cabbage, carrot, canned tomatoes, red beans, and vegetable stock in the Slow Cooker.  This is a healthy, satisfying, plant-based dinner.  Perfect for cold winter nights

Chef's Cabbage Slaw: Toss shredded cabbage with carrot, apple, and a Poppyseed dressing for a creamy, crunchy coleslaw recipe.  This oil-free salad works great over veggie burgers, in tacos, or just served at a healthy summer picnic

Chef's Cabbage Slaw: Toss shredded cabbage with carrot, apple, and a Poppyseed dressing for a creamy, crunchy coleslaw recipe.  This oil-free salad works great over veggie burgers, in tacos, or just served at a healthy summer picnic

Chef's Napa Cabbage Tip: Napa cabbage has a sweeter, more mild flavor.  It works great in a light Detox Soup recipe.  Great for anyone trying to kick start their healthy eating

Chef's Napa Cabbage Tip: Napa cabbage has a sweeter, more mild flavor.  It works great in a light Detox Soup recipe.  Great for anyone trying to kick start their healthy eating

 

Quick Reference Pin:

Cabbage 101 - Healthy Infographic Pin for Season, How to Choose, Store, Cook, and Nutrition

Cabbage Basics

Seasons:  

  • Fall to Winter: Technically October - February is Cabbage season, but you can usually get it year-round

Choosing: 

  • Firm, Colorful: Cabbage heads should be firm and have a bright color
  • Avoid the Brown:  Avoid cabbage with bruises or browning on the outer leaves.  This is a sign that even the inner leaves are spoiled.
  • Varieties:  The most popular cabbage varieties include green, red, Napa, Savoy
  • Organic?  It's up to you.   Cabbage is one of the least-sprayed vegetables when it comes to pesticides and herbicides (ranking #48 out of 51).  It's naturally bitter flavor isn't very appealing to pests.  While organic is always a better choice for the environment, there isn't much flavor difference.  It's up to you and your budget if you want to pay for organic cabbage

Storing:

  • Whole Heads for 2 weeks:  Keep whole heads in an air-tight plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Eat within 2 weeks
  • Cut Cabbage, 5 days:  Cut cabbage can be tightly wrapped in plastic.  It should be eaten or cooked within 5 days.
  • Freezing or Canning:  The most popular way to preserve cabbage is to pickle it, in the form of Sauerkraut.  Cooked cabbage is covered in a salty brine and jarred, preserving it for months.  Cooked cabbage can also be frozen in an air-tight plastic bag for up to 6 months.

How to Clean and Cook:

  • How to Trim: Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage and discard.  These are pretty tough anyways, so you probably don't want to eat them.  
  • How to Clean: Whether you're using whole cabbage leaves or slicing it, it's easiest to first cut your cabbage and then wash. Place cabbage pieces in a large bowl of water and swish around.  The dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl.  Remove the cabbage and drain before cooking. 
  • How to Cook:
    • Steam or boil:  Steam or boil cabbage leaves 5-7 minutes, until tender.  Use as a "wrap" by filling with rice, potatoes, or veggies.
    • Braise: My favorite way to cook cabbage.  In a wide pan, brown cabbage over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring often, until slightly brown.  Add a splash of apple cider or red wine vinegar.  Add herbs like thyme, garlic, sage, or bay leaf.  Add enough water to cover the bottom inch of the pan.  Partially cover and simmer until the cabbage is super-soft, about 20-30 minutes.
    • Cabbage Soup:  Great for the Slow Cooker, combine cabbage with carrots, canned tomatoes, and vegetable broth.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (or simmer over low flame for at least an hour).
    • Cabbage Raw: Use raw shredded cabbage in coleslaw, over salads, or as a crunchy topping for tacos and veggie burgers.
  • Use in Vegetable Stock?  NO.  Cruciferous  vegetables like cabbage release sulfur when boiled or steamed for too long.  Sulfur smells like rotten eggs and does not have an appetizing flavor.  Don't use cabbage trimmings in vegetable stock.

Nutrition (help from the World's Healthiest Foods)

  • Fat Free, Cholesterol Free, Low Sodium
  • Low Calorie: Only 44 calories for cup of cooked red cabbage
  • Excellent Source **: Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6
  • Very Good Source **: Fiber, Manganese, Potassium, Vitamin B1, Folate and Copper
  • Antioxidant Phytonutrient Power:
    • Cancer Prevention - The isothiocyanates (ITCs) that cabbage produces relieve oxidative stress.  This is tied to cancer prevention.
    • Anti-Inflammatory - Cabbage is a great source of anthocyanins, which are linked to cancer prevention and anti-inflammation
    • Cardiovascular Support and Heart Disease - Like other cruciferous vegetables, B-vitamins in cauliflower is linked to reducing LDL cholesterol, risk of stroke, heart attack, and atherosclerosis
    • Digestive Help - Cabbage helps promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut, aiding in digestion and helping to prevent stomach ulcers
    • How much?  For optimal health, it's recommended to eat 3/4 cabbage a day, or about 10 cups a week.  Sounds like a lot?  Do the best you can.  Every little bit helps.
    • Frozen or Fresh?  Frozen cauliflower still retains much of its nutritional benefits, even after a year of freezing 
  • Cabbage Relatives:  Cabbage is part of the Cruciferous (or Brassica) family.  It's relatives include broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli rabe.
  • Budget Bonus: Besides potatoes, cabbage is the cheapest vegetable.  The USDA has found it to have the lowest cost per edible cup .

** FDA definitions for nutrients:
Excellent Source = 20% or more recommended daily value
Good Source = 10-19% or more recommended daily value


Healthy, Oil-Free Plant-Based Cabbage Recipes