Cabbage

Such a versatile vegetable, cabbage offers a variety of flavours and textures depending on cooking technique. From the common green cabbage we immediately think of, to vibrant purple to the frilly savoy, and the more tender Chinese varieties, the range of cabbages available from Bidfresh is much larger than may be apparent. There’s more going for cabbage than just its versatility! With its own eco-friendly packaging or its outer leaves which can simply be discarded before using, the cabbage is already doing its bit for the environment.

Cabbage has been cultivated for longer than almost any other vegetable on record. To be precise, more than 6,000 years! It originated in Shensi Province, China, sometime around 4,000 B.C. In ancient China (roughly 1,000 B.C.) scrolls touted cabbage as a magic cure-all for bald men. It’s hard to say if there’s any truth in this claim, but no one can deny cabbage is chock full of nutrients that promote good health.

Cabbage contains a high concentration of vitamin C. That means it cuts out toxins in your body, preventing skin disease, arthritis and rheumatism. Go for red cabbage when you have vitamin C in mind. It contains double the content of regular green cabbage. Healthier hair, skin and nails are just some of the benefits of eating this leafy veggie on a regular basis. Cabbage’s high sulphur content translates to keratin production, and the result is feeling good inside and out.

Grown year round but at their cheapest and best during winter, cabbage is not just good for our health, but also great for our food cost. Densely packed with layers of leaves, a cabbage goes a long way, making it an economical choice. Hardier than lettuce, the leaves hold their form for some time in raw salads, making cabbage a great choice to avoid food waste.

Eat

Sharp and crunchy when sliced raw in salads and slaws, soft and yielding when braised over a low heat, tender and flavourful when quickly cooked in stir-fries, you’ll find cabbage as a key ingredient in many cuisines. Pickled to make sauerkraut in Germany or kimchi in Korea, mixed with potato to make Colcannon in Ireland or blanched and stuffed in Hungary, made into soup in Russia and added to spring rolls in China.
Wedges of cabbage can be roasted to make a delicious vegan ‘steak’.  A key base to any slaw, cabbage can be dressed with a tart vinaigrette or creamy mayo and served with anything from a schnitzel to a burger. Pair with thinly sliced fennel, apple to balance the flavour, or carrot for colour.

From highly unfashionable to a staple in many exciting menus, it’s great to see cabbage finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Varieties

Green Cabbage
These are the most widely grown cabbage and are available all year round with a range of varieties ensuring a continuous supply. With smooth, bright green outer leaves for colour and a deliciously crunchy white heart.

Savoy Cabbage

Like the green cabbage, just with lovely crinkly leaves, perfect for catching flavourful sauces or dressings. The Savoy cabbage also has a slightly milder flavour than its smoother cousin.

Red Cabbage

With their hard, tightly packed dark red or crimson leaves, the red cabbage really adds a pop to many winter salads and dishes. Often braised, it is cooked longer than green cabbages with the addition of lemon juice, wine or vinegar to preserve the red colour.

Bok Choy

Bok Choy (and its youthful friend, baby Bok Choy) has distinct leaves growing from a central stalk. The tender dark green leaves and crisp off-white-coloured stalks provide a nice fresh crunch. The greens have a spinach-like taste with a very mild bitterness. Bok Choy is most often used in stir-fries, but braising brings out its sweet flavour. Baby Bok Choy can be cooked whole if you like, but all Bok Choy is perhaps at its best when the leaves are separated and cooked loose.

Choy Sum

This cabbage has pale yellow flowers on thin green stems with small green leaves. It is very similar to gai lan and suits quick cooking methods. You can use all parts of the cabbage including the flowers, but its best to use them when the flowers are still in bud.

Wong Bok

Known by many different names such as Peking cabbage, Napa cabbage or Chinese leaf to name a few, this variety has crisp, juicy stalks and pale green leaves. It is very compact with an elongated shape. It can be used in many ways, such as raw in salads, or stir-fries.

Store

Chilled cabbages will stay fresh for several weeks, especially if the outer leaves are undamaged.

Grow

Main growing areas include Pukekohe, Horowhenua and Canterbury.