Read here what's important for cabbage cooking and how to avoid the special cabbagey odour.
When choosing cabbage for a soup, stir-fry or another dish, keep in mind one question "Is it good enough to eat raw?" If not, put it back. A fresh cabbage will be firm with a clean stalk.
A slimy stock is a good indicator that the cabbage is going bad.
The leaves should not have bruising or be crushed. They should be nice and green. Also, look for bug damage. If bugs have taken over the cabbage at some point, you obviously will want to keep looking for that fresh head of cabbage.
Other warning indicators that the cabbage you’re looking at is less than perfect are wilted and yellowing leaves. Also dried out and decayed leaves are a definite warning sign. If you avoid the wilted, discoloured and slimy, you will find plenty of fresh, tasty cabbage. A great alternative longterm is to plant your own cabbage. Read here our article on cabbage seeds.
Start by washing your head of cabbage. You will need to remove the outer leaves. Go ahead and trim the stalk and then cut the head into manageable pieces. The cabbage is then ready for cooking. Depending on your recipe you may be called to stem, simmer or stew the cabbage.
Cabbage has a definite odor. And, once accustomed to it, most people do not mind its characteristic odor. But, if the waft of cabbage throughout your home doesn’t delight you and your beloved, there are ways to lessen the smell.
If the head of cabbage is boiling away before you realize that you want to mask the smell, quickly drop a stalk of celery in with the cabbage. A drop or two of vinegar is also helpful for cutting down the aromatic vapors.
When cabbage is cooked, the sulphur that it contains actually multiplies! The longer it is cooked, the more it multiplies. It is this sulfer smell that causes some to wrinkle their nose.
You have to watch cabbage. Depending on the sections placed in the water, the cooking time will vary. Cabbage is cooked in the span of 5-12 min. Faster than most people cook it for. You may even find a recipe that calls for several hours of simmering. This is actually counterproductive. All this will do is drain the cabbage of its vitamins and delicious flavour. This is especially bad if you cook cabbage for the cabbage soup diet.
That's why I recommend to let the soup simmer only ten minutes...
In a cool, dry place, a head of cabbage will store for up to one week. If you wish to keep your cabbage longer, wrap the head in a plastic bag or a light humid towel and it will stay good for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Now, once you cut into the cabbage the storage rules change. Freshness is rapidly lost. You really should use the entire head within 24 hours of the first cut. Not everyone needs to use an entire head of cabbage, what to do then? If you must store part of the cabbage head place it in a plastic bag with a few drops of water poured onto the cut portion. Refrigerate. This will keep your left over cabbage for a few extra days.
Do not freeze fresh cabbage. Just as any other vegetable needs preparation before freezer storage, so does the cabbage. First you will want to blanch the shreds of cabbage for about 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, chill and then store in sealed containers. Frozen cabbage can be stored up to one year in a deep freezer.
To maximize nutritional value from your cabbage, cook it in stainless steel, enamel or glass. It is a little known fact that aluminium and copper react with the already sulfur-rich cabbage. Not only does this heighten that "cabbagey smell," but it destroys the natural vitamin C, vitamin E and Folic Acid that are found in cabbage.