Cabbage has been consumed by mankind for thousands of years, it is one of the oldest vegetables in the world.
Don’t you have the best memories of her from the school canteen?
Maybe it’s time to rethink your relationship with cabbage.
Few vegetables offer as many health benefits as this one.
What beneficial effects does it bring to our organism?
Discover its secret and learn to prepare it in a tasty and interesting way.
Cabbage and its species
Like cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi or broccoli, cabbage is an example of a cruciferous vegetable. In Moravia it is usually called kél or kelp, which resembles the English name kale. All types of cabbage that we encounter today were originally bred from cruciferous cabbage. The most common types of cabbage include:
- Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. sabauda)
- Kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica)
- Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera)
- Black cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. lacinato)
- Ornamental cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)
- Fodder cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala)
How to know your way around cabbages
Each type of cabbage is grown today in many varieties, which are distinguished into early and late. Let’s take a closer look at the most famous types of cabbage, which differ in appearance and, as you will learn further, in some of the specifics of their use.
The most typical type of cabbage for most of us is cabbage. As the name already reveals, it is cultivated for its head, which consists of spirally growing wavy leaves with many veins. Unlike cabbage, the leaves in cabbage are more loosely arranged. The leaves are most often dark green, but there are also yellow-green varieties, in the case of ornamental varieties we can even meet purple, red or yellow leaves.
Unlike head cabbage, it does not form a head, its dark green and strongly curled leaves grow freely on the stalk. This is the species that probably most closely resembles the original wild species. An interesting fact is that this type of cabbage has the most delicious taste in the winter months after it has passed through the frost.
Because the starch in the plant is transformed into sugar due to the frost, which not only softens the taste of the cabbage, but also makes it more digestible. In addition to the classic curlew, there is also the Siberian curlew, whose leaves are flatter and have a white-green color, or the Russian curlew with red leaves.
This species was only bred in the 18th century in Belgium. Its bark is overgrown with leaves, in the axils of which small firm rosettes are formed, the size of the rosettes varies depending on the variety. The color of the rosettes is most often light to dark green, but it can also be reddish.
Some grow this species for its interesting appearance, and others for its special taste. It partially resembles curly cabbage. The thick, wrinkled leaves have an unusual dark blue-green color, sometimes even black. It is mainly used in Italian cuisine, especially Tuscan.
Ornamental cabbage is related to traditional cabbage, but it has been bred to have an open rosette of leaves with a distinctly colored center. The leaves can be slightly or strongly wavy, the center of ornamental cabbage is most often colored red, pink or white. It is interesting that its coloring occurs only when the night temperatures drop below 10 o C. In addition to the flower bed, it also does very well in a flower pot on the balcony or on the terrace.
Fodder cabbage is mainly used as a source of green fodder for farm animals. In addition, if necessary, it can also be ensiled with straw or corn.
What does cabbage contain?
Cabbage is rich in many different nutrients, all types of cabbage are rich in fiber and protein. It contains abundant amounts of vitamin C, group B vitamins and vitamin K. It is also full of minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. It is interesting to compare cabbage with other representatives of cruciferous vegetables.
Nutritional values in cabbage
| Brussels sprout|
|Energy||25 calories||36 kcal||25 calories||26 kcal||22 kcal|
|Carbohydrates||2.4 g||3.3 g||4.2 g||2.5 g||2.3 g|
|Proteins||3 g||4.5 g||1.4 g||3.3 g||2.5 g|
|Fats||0.4 g||0.3 g||0.2 g||0.2 g||0.3 g|
|Fiber||2.5 g||4.4 g||3 g||3 g||2.9 g|
Vitamins and minerals
| Brussels sprout|
|Vitamin A||7.5 µg||94 µg||12 µg||114 µg||2 µg|
|Vitamin B1||0.05 mg||0.13 mg||0.05 mg||0.1 mg||0.1 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.07 mg||0.13 mg||0.05 mg||0.2 mg||0.11 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.5 mg||0.7 mg||0.3 mg||1.1 mg||0.6 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.2 mg||0.3 mg||0.19 mg||0.28 mg||0.2 mg|
|Folic acid||90 µg||101 µg||31 µg||114 µg||88 µg|
|Vitamin C||50 mg||112 mg||47 mg||115 mg||69 mg|
|Vitamin E||2.5 mg||0.6 mg||1.7 mg||0.6 mg||0.1 mg|
|Potassium||236 mg||450 mg||255 mg||256 mg||328 mg|
|Magnesium||12 mg||22 mg||14 mg||24 mg||17 mg|
|Calcium||64 mg||31 mg||45 mg||58 mg||22 mg|
|Iron||0.5 mg||1.1 mg||0.5 mg||0.8 mg||0.6 mg|
Why include cabbage in the menu?
Due to the content of many vitamins, minerals and fiber, the consumption of cabbage has a number of positives for our health. What specific effects do we mean?
- Immune system – all types of cabbage are very rich in vitamin C. For this reason, eating cabbage strengthens our immune system and prevents various diseases and inflammations in our body.
- Cardiovascular disease – everyone who has problems with cholesterol or hardening of the arteries should regularly include cabbage in their diet. The reason is the high content of essential fatty acids. Otherwise, due to the higher content of vitamin K, people who take blood thinners such as warfarin should be careful about consuming an excessive amount of cabbage. Cabbage reduces their effectiveness.
- Joints, bones and teeth – due to the high content of some minerals, especially calcium, potassium and phosphorus, and the vegetable’s considerable amount of protein, cabbage has positive effects on our bones, joints and teeth.
- Antioxidants – cabbage is also rich in various antioxidants that fight against dangerous free radicals in our body. At the same time, free radicals are associated with a whole range of diseases, including cancer, diseases of the heart and blood vessels, as well as Parkinson’s disease.
- Eyes – one of the important antioxidants found in cabbage is lutein. It has a very beneficial effect on our eyesight. It protects the eyes from the formation of cataracts and other degenerative diseases.
- Weight control – cabbage contains very few calories, so it is one of the recommended foods for various reduction diets. Unlike some other vegetables, however, thanks to the high fiber and protein content, they are more filling.
Cabbage and flatulence
Many people avoid eating cabbage for fear of bloating. Like other cruciferous vegetables, cabbage contains raffinose. The problem is that this trisaccharide is only digested by bacteria in the colon, which causes gas. Raw cabbage puffs up the most, the longer you cook it, the less it should cause this problem. In addition, it is recommended to add cumin, sage or thyme to cabbage in dishes, which, on the contrary, reduce flatulence.
How to cook cabbage
Cabbage offers many different ways to prepare it. Various heat treatment methods are most often used, but it can also be consumed raw, for example in the form of a salad.
Blanching mainly serves to soften the hard texture of cabbage and also to improve its digestibility. Blanched cabbage is much more tender and also sweeter and crunchier. Another advantage is that blanched cabbage retains its typically green color during further heat treatment, and the dishes look beautiful. Blanching actually means rapid scalding and subsequent cooling of vegetables. Drop the leaves, whole or chopped, into salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes and then cool them quickly under cold water.
Blanched cabbage leaves can be further heat-treated or used in various green smoothie recipes . They go well not only with other green vegetables, such as spinach or Swiss chard, but also with avocado, kiwi or apple. Last but not least, it is advisable to blanch the leaves that you want to use in the preparation of cabbage rolls , the resulting dish will retain its deep green color.
Steaming is one of the most common ways to prepare cabbage. Longer slow cooking makes it possible to soften the structure of the cabbage leaves, which become fragile and absorb the taste of the other ingredients that you put in the pot together with the cabbage. By the way, this is also often used when cooking cabbage soups . In them, the cabbage is often first stewed in broth together with other vegetables and spices and then possibly blended into a smooth cream.
Cabbage can also be baked or baked in various ways, for example with minced meat, tomatoes and cheese, and a very tasty casserole is created. Baking is very often used in recipes with brussels sprouts , which can of course also be stewed, steamed or fried.
Do you like chips? Try using cabbage to make a much healthier delicacy – crispy cabbage chips. All you need is a little oil, salt and possibly other spices or a small amount of parmesan cheese. Chips can be made from either chopped cabbage leaves or curly cabbage. Bake them in an oven preheated to approximately 120°C for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the chips and the type of cabbage used. And do you know how to bake cabbage as cutlets , which you can use as an original side dish?
Last but not least, cabbage can also be fried. You can prepare coated cabbage cutlets from cabbage, but before cutting the cabbage into slices and frying it, it is necessary to boil it in water until semi-soft. Recipes for cabbage meatballs are a fried classic that combines the taste of cabbage and minced meat. If you prefer healthier ways of preparing food than frying, you can also bake the meatballs in the oven.
The best storage methods
Compared to leafy vegetables such as lettuce or spinach, kale has the advantage that it can be stored in the refrigerator for a longer period of time. It can last up to two weeks in a plastic bag or airtight container. In contrast, Brussels sprouts are recommended to be consumed within five days. If you store curly cabbage or individual leaves of cabbage, do not stack too many leaves on top of each other. A little trick is to wrap the leaves in a damp cloth or immerse them in a bowl of water.
How to freeze cabbage?
If necessary, the cabbage can also be frozen. Wash the cabbage from dirt, remove damaged leaves. It is recommended to freeze the individual leaves or florets individually on a tray first to keep them separate, before placing them in an airtight bag. If necessary, the leaves can be cut into smaller pieces.
A little trick is to boil cabbage leaves or florets in salted water for a few minutes before freezing them and then quickly cool them down. Cabbage prepared in this way will have a sweeter and milder taste. Cabbage can be stored in the freezer for up to one year.
Cultivation and origin of cabbage
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) is a biennial cruciferous vegetable from the cruciferous family, which is why it is sometimes called cruciferous vegetables. It is an ancient vegetable that is now widespread all over the world. It originally comes from the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, while the first mentions of its cultivation come from the period of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. On the territory of the Czech lands, its cultivation is documented since the end of the 16th century.
The hardy nature and versatility have made this vegetable very popular. The largest producer of cabbage in general is currently China, followed by the United States of America and Spain. In Europe, in addition to Spain, it is also widely cultivated in the Netherlands and Italy, and of course we can also find it in our fields.
How to grow your own cabbage?
If you want to grow cabbage in your garden, you will surely be pleased that it is a relatively undemanding and resistant plant that does not require any specific conditions. It tolerates the cold well, if you want to protect it from frost, especially if the temperatures drop below zero, just cover it with straw. We can grow it either from pre-grown seedlings or from seeds that we sow at the end of February in a greenhouse or in a flower pot at home.
Early varieties of cabbage are planted in outdoor beds at the beginning of April and harvested, depending on the weather, in June or July. Late varieties are planted in May or June and harvested from August to October. However, they can stay outside for longer if necessary.
In terms of soil, medium-heavy loamy soils with sufficient humus and moisture generally suit cabbage best. Water the plants regularly, but make sure the soil is not too wet. At planting, give the cabbage a high-nitrogen fertilizer. It is advisable to continuously supply the fertilizer even during the vegetative period.
As for head cabbage, it forms a head already in the first year. During the second year, a simple inflorescence with anther flowers grows through the head. The fruit is a pod containing round black seeds.