April 12, 2015
Red cabbage consists of layers of thick, leathery leaves that grow around each other from the stem. This cabbage is more mild and sweet flavored than other cabbage. It has a round, solid head and is popular for adding color to salads, coleslaws and stir-fries. The leaves on the red cabbage are tougher than those on the green cabbage because of its longer maturity time.
Red cabbage is also known as purple cabbage, red kraut or blue kraut. The plant changes its color according to the pH value of the soil. Acidic soil – reddish leaves, neutral soil – purple leaves, alkaline soil – greenish-yellow leaves. On cooking the cabbage will turn blue. To retain the red color you need to add vinegar or acidic fruit to the pot.
The cabbage is found in Northern Europe, throughout America and in China.
Red cabbage is seeded in spring and harvested in late fall. But you will probably be able to purchase it year round.
SHOPPING + STORAGE
Choose only heads that are compact and firm. They should have fresh, bright, crispy leaves that do not contain any markings or browning [could be an indication of worm damage]. The head should only contain a few loose outer leaves. The stem should be trimmed and look fresh, not dry and cracked. Avoid purchasing precut or shredded cabbage.
Red cabbage keeps rather well [in comparison to ‘white’ cabbages that need to be converted to sauerkraut to last the winter]. But once the cabbage is cut it begins to lose its Vitamin C content, even if it is tightly packed or well wrapped. So keep the cabbage uncut in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge [for up to two weeks]. If the cabbage is cut, wrap the remainder of the head tightly in plastic wrap but use within a couple of days. Cabbage stored for a longer time will have the tendency to have a very strong smell.
Red cabbages are easy to prepare. Strip off the outer leaves, wash, then slice into quarters, cut out the hard central core on each, then chop or shred. When preparing red cabbage – use a stainless steel knife. If the knife is carbon steel – the cut edges of the cabbage will turn black. Cut the cabbage just before using to avoid Vitamin C loss.
If there are signs of worms or insects after the head is cut open – rid the cabbage of them by soaking it in salt water for 20 minutes.
Raw – The cabbage is often used raw for salads and coleslaw [sliced very finely]. For cabbage dishes/salads that are served cold, incorporate enough time into your planning to allow the dish to cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Cooked – Red cabbage can be boiled, steamed, braised, sautéed, stir-fried and microwaved. Cooked red cabbage is a traditional side dish to German meals [Sauerbraten, roast goose, …] It should be cooked until just tender – overcooking will result in limp, pasty cabbage with a very unpleasant smell. Add vinegar or lemon juice [or other acidic fruit] to keep the cabbage from turning blue while cooking. Use only very little water for cooking – water will cause the cabbage’s color to fade, nutrients and flavor to be lost and the cabbage to become soggy and limp.
Microgreen – the young red cabbage plant [2-3 weeks] has a strong cabbage taste and is very decorative. The microgreen is eaten raw in salads or used as decoration for savory dishes.
Tip – the leaves are very strong, leathery and keep their shape. They make cute bowls for dips or salad if you are looking for something special for your dinner party.
Red cabbage has 10 times more vitamin A and twice as much iron as green cabbage. Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, and vitamin B6. It is also a very good source of manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B1, folate and copper. Additionally, cabbage is a good source of choline, phosphorus, vitamin B2, magnesium, calcium, selenium, pantothenic acid and protein.
Ancient healers declared it contained ‘moon power’ because it grew in the moonlight. Modern nutritional science understands its power comes from its high sulfur and vitamin C content. Chinese scrolls form 1000BC declare cabbage as a cure for baldness in men.
Either way – cabbage is good for you:
Nutritional value per 100g [% of Daily Value]