By Mark Mulcahy
Even though this item had its “day of fame” last month on March 17th
, along with corned beef and potatoes…. think for a second; do you ever really have an organic cabbage
craving? Probably not! Cabbage is a vegetable few people really appreciate. Many of us will walk by it during our visits to the produce department unless we’ve been inspired to make coleslaw or cabbage rolls.
Perhaps we should reconsider our view of cabbage. After all, it is hardy and abundant and probably the most inexpensive vegetable worldwide. Cabbage is a dietary staple throughout the world that can be used in so many ways. It is good sautéed, slawed (warm and cold), in soups and stews and much, much more. And now is a great time to try it, as it is best when the cooler temperatures of spring bring out its best flavor.
You’ve heard of many vegetables referred to as “brassica vegetables” – vegetables such as broccoli
, collard greens
, Brussels sprouts
and kohlrabi – and their reputation for having cancer-fighting properties. Well, guess what the word "brassica" in Latin means? It means "cabbage”, which is closely related to all of the above vegetable superstars.
Perhaps cabbage should move to the top of the list. There are three major types of cabbage: the familiar green cabbage, and red cabbage, which can be found in every produce department, and the more tender and curvy-leafed savoy. When choosing Melissa’s organic green and red or savoy cabbage, pick a tight, compact head that feels heavy for its size. It should look crisp and fresh, with no cracks or blemishes. The savoy cabbage variety will not feel as heavy as standard varieties, since the leaves are not as tightly furled. Once you get it home, put the whole head in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator, this will keep your savoy for about 1 week and your red and green cabbage about 2 weeks.
Here are a few other tips for getting the most from this nutritious veggie.
- Though often seen off the cold rack during big in-store promotions, keeping cabbage cold will keep it fresher and help it retain its wonderful vitamin C content. So buy it from the cold rack of the produce department whenever possible.
- If you need to store a partial head of cabbage, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, then refrigerate and use as soon as possible. Cabbage loses its vitamin C quickly after being cut. To preserve its vitamin C content, cut and wash the cabbage right before cooking or eating it.
- Phytonutrients in the cabbage react to carbon steel by turning the leaves black after cutting, so it is best to use a stainless steel or ceramic knife to cut your cabbage to avoid this color change.
- The best way to get the most cancer fighting enzymes is to cook by quick steaming. Recent studies have shown this to be much more effective and were much better than microwaving for preserving some myrosinase enzymes.
- Another important tip is to slice, shred, or chop your raw cabbage and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking to get the most enzyme benefits.
- Lastly if you don’t care for the sulfur smell that comes with cooking many brassica vegetables, use it fresh; the older it gets, the stronger the flavor and odor will be. Also avoid cooking it in an aluminum pan and steam it in a small amount of water for a short time. Shortly after cooking begins, uncover the pot briefly, this will release the sulfur smell and keep it to a minimum.
Now that you are an organic cabbage expert, why not add Melissa’s organic cabbage to your next shopping trip? I know I hear some cabbage topped fish tacos calling me!