When most of us think of cabbage types, we think of the one or two varieties available at our local grocery store.
But, did you know that there are actually more than a hundred different varieties?! To cover each and everyone is beyond the scope of this article, but let’s look at the most common and begin exploring the world of cabbage.
Ever wonder how cole slaw got its name?
Well, COLE is the old English word for cabbage. And we all know that cabbage is the main ingredient of that dish.
If you are interested in growing your own COLE or cabbage types you will first need to decide on what type.
It really isn’t too difficutl to grow. Plus, as any gardner will attest, homegrown cabbage will reward you with a sweeter taste than the variety purchased at a grocery store.
To truly explore the vast variety of available cabbage, one must peruse a seed catalogue. Common green and red cabbage varieties will jump out at you, but also take note of the savoury crinkled leave cabbage and even those able to withstand snow!
With all of this cabbage diversity one may wonder what makes them all cabbages. Most cabbages will have a short, broad stem and flowers that from that distinguished compact head.
Savoy cabbage is distingued by its yellow-green crinkled leaves. It is also noticeable less compact than the common green cabbage.
These cabbage types do well in stew, steamed or just as a garnish. Recently they gained popularity as healthy snack idea in the form of crunchy Savoy cabbage chips.
Common savoy cabbages include the Salarite, Savonarch, Promasa and Wivoy. The Salarite and Savonarch grow up to 2 feet and each head weighs from 3 to 5 pounds. The Promasa and Wivoy are still Savoy, but yield a more compact head.
These popular cabbages are a light green with crinkled leaves. Their head is compact and the stems are white in color.
The Nappa cabbage is one that is tasty even raw. Or more common uses are in stir-fry or steamed. You will find the Napa cabbage in almost all stir-fry dishes. If you enjoy a more delicate and milder tasting cabbage for your recipes, opt for the Nappa cabbage.
Bok Choy is recognized for its dark green leaves and white stems. And unlike traditional white cabbage, the leaves grow loosly together rather than tightly.
Other Chinese cabbages include the Michihli, Pe-Tsai, Tai-sai, Lei-choi and Pakchoi. With most Chinese cabbage both the stem and leaves can be cooked. They also have a taste similar to celery.
Actually, the color is more like a deep purple than that of red. And even though it looks different than the green cabbage, its taste is very similar.
The most common uses for red cabbage are pickling. They are also tasty in slaws and salads.
Western red cabbage varieties include Meteor, Red Rodan, Ruby Ball and Scarlet O’Hara. Each of these has a head from 7 to 10 in in diameter and weigh about 3-4 pounds.
Last, but not least, is the green cabbage. This is the most common cabbage variety. Pale in color and with tight leaves. It is used often in soups (especially in our beloved cabbage soups ;-))and slaws.
Familar green cabbages include Grenadier, Charmant, and January King. Named after its ability to remain hearty even in a cold environment, January King can be seen late in the year.