Cabbage

ImageWhile it seems most of us have fond memories of broccoli, it also seems many people have grown up with yucky cabbage experiences and have little idea what to do with it. Maybe a bit of knowledge can help!
All around the world, from the ancient past to present, there are stories of cabbage. I’ll share a few tidbits I discovered. Above all, know that cabbage is very nutritional, easily stored, and has saved many people in hunger crisis from starvation. With karma like that to be eaten, how can any of us say no to giving cabbage a chance?
  • Cato, an ancient Roman statesman, circa 200 BCE, advised one to eat plenty of raw cabbage seasoned with vinegar before a banquet at which one plans to "drink deep." Even the ancient Egyptians advised starting the meal with raw cabbage, including cabbage seeds, to keep one sober. It seemed that the standard treatment of the day for a nasty hangover was more cabbage.
  • On the Scandinavian table from the eighteenth century dating back to the time of the Vikings, cabbage played an important role. Because of the harsh winters they prepared their summer harvests with a focus on foods that could be smoked, dried, or salted. Cabbage along with beets, onions, apples, berries and nuts were some of the staples they stored for winter.
  • In 1984 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations listed cabbage as one of the top twenty vegetables considered an important food source sustaining world population. Many countries of the world have incorporated cabbage as part of their national cuisine.
  • Researchers have learned that foods in the cabbage family inhibit the growth of breast, stomach, and colon cancer due to phytochemicals called indoles. These indoles tend to burn up the female hormone, estrogen. Indoles also tend to ward off cell changes that lead to colon cancer. Some of the phytochemicals seem to produce anticancer enzymes. A University of Utah School of Medicine study on 600 men revealed that those who ate the most cruciferous vegetables had a much lower risk of colon cancer. On the side of caution, however, consuming excessive amounts of cabbage may contribute to thyroid problems, possibly goiter.
  • A well-known remedy for healing peptic ulcers is drinking cabbage juice. A medical study at Stanford University's School of Medicine gave thirteen ulcer patients five doses a day of cabbage juice. All were healed within seven to ten days with the vitamin U contained in the cabbage juice.
  • In its raw state, cabbage contains iron, calcium, and potassium. High marks are given for its vitamin C content. Cabbage is also high in vitamins B1, B2, B3, and D. Lengthy cooking tends to lower the nutritional value considerably.
  • The cultivation of cabbage goes back 4000 years. Between China and Mongolia, horsemen learned to preserve this vegetable in brine and it became the staple food of the builders of the Great Wall of China in the third century BC. Later, pickled cabbage arrived in Europe from the East, carried by Hun and Mongol cavalcades.
  • In an old Scottish tradition called "kaling," the unmarried guests at a wedding would take part in a race to collect a head of cabbage or kale - the first back over the finish line would be guaranteed an attractive spouse in the future.

Storing and Cooking


Keeping cabbage cold will keep it fresh and help it retain its vitamin C content. Put the whole head in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. Red and green cabbage will keep this way for about 2 weeks while Savoy cabbage will keep for about 1 week.

If you need to store a partial head of cabbage, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Since the vitamin C content of cabbage starts to quickly degrade once it has been cut, you should use the remainder within a couple of days.

Even though the inside of cabbage is usually clean since the outer leaves protect it, you still may want to clean it. Remove the thick fibrous outer leaves and cut the cabbage into pieces and then wash under running water. To preserve its vitamin C content, cut and wash the cabbage right before cooking or eating it. Since phytonutrients in the cabbage react with carbon steel and turn the leaves black, use a stainless steel knife to cut.

To cut cabbage into smaller pieces, first quarter it and remove the core. Cabbage can be cut into slices of varying thickness, grated by hand or shredded in a food processor.

Proper cabbage preparation and cooking methods are essential for receiving its cancer-preventive effects.Cabbage's anti-carcinogenic glucosinolates are formed by the activity of myrosinase enzymes, which are released when cabbage is sliced or chopped. Cooking denatures the myrosinase enzyme, thus stopping the production of glucosinolates.

Research has found that the association between frequently eating cabbage and a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer is only seen with raw and short-cooked cabbage foods (steamed cabbage and sauerkraut), not long-cooked cabbage recipes(hunter's stew, cabbage rolls, pierogi). To promote the production of the most glucosinolates, slice or chop your cabbage and let sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking, and cook lightly, steaming or sautéing for 5 minutes or less.

Quick Serving Ideas:

  • Cabbage leaves are a great way to inspire leftovers. Spoon some leftovers such as rice salad or a vegetable mixture onto the center of a cabbage leaf and roll into a neat little package. Bake in medium heat oven until hot. Enjoy your easy and healthy version of stuffed cabbage, a traditional eastern European dish.
  • Braise red cabbage with a chopped apple and red wine. This is a child-friendly dish, since the alcohol (but not the flavor or the flavonoids) will evaporate.
  • Combine shredded red and white cabbage with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings such as turmeric, cumin, coriander and black pepper to make coleslaw with an Indian twist.
  • Sauté cabbage and onions and serve over cooked buckwheat for a hardy side dish.
  • Use shredded raw cabbage as a garnish for sandwiches.
Cabbage Recipes:

Coleslaw

Did you know?

The Center for Disease Control estimates that every year 76 million Americans get sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die from food borne illnesses

Quotes

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."
~John F. Kennedy

CSA 2010 is closed

  • Don't Forget to Read Farm Notes on the Center Page for updates
      • Here's a sample box from October!
      • Celery
      • Celeriac
      • Onions
      • Carrots
      • Beets
      • Cabbage
      • Winter Squash
      • Black Beans
    CSA 2011 is not yet open

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