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All about “Cabbage”

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Easy to grow because of its great ability to adapt to the cold, vegetable cabbage is one of the illustrious members of the cruciferous family. Very versatile, cabbage can be eaten as well grated in a salad as it is cooked in a stew, without forgetting the famous sauerkraut prepared from fermented cabbage.

Characteristics of cabbage:

  • Rich in fiber;
  • Rich in antioxidants;
  • Rich in vitamin C;
  • Stimulates intestinal transit;
  • Reduces the risk of developing cancers.

Cabbage, what is it?

Cabbage identity card

  • Type: Vegetable;
  • Family: Cruciferae;
  • Origin: East of the Mediterranean basin;
  • Season: October to April;
  • Color: White, green or red;
  • Flavor: Sulfur.

Characteristics of cabbage

During its harvest the cabbage can weigh up to 7kg. It grows above the ground and is made up of large overlapping leaves.

Cabbage: understand everything in 2 min

Word from the nutritionist

To make the most of the benefits of cabbage, you can eat it raw, including red cabbage and white cabbage.

Nutritional values

For 100g of white cabbage:

Nutrients                                                             Quantities                                                            
Protein 1.25 g
Fat 0.2g
Carbohydrates 4.25 g
Water 90.5g
Fibers 2.3g
Vitamin C 45.8 mg
Vitamin B1 0.049 mg
Vitamin B6 0.16 mg
Vitamin B9 77 µg
Iron 0.31 mg
Manganese 0.24 mg


9 benefits of cabbage: why eat it?

  1. Several epidemiological studies have shown that high consumption of vegetables and fruits  lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease , certain cancers and other chronic diseases. Some mechanisms of action have been proposed to explain this protective effect; The presence of antioxidants in vegetables and fruits could play a role. With regard to vegetables from the cruciferous family such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, epidemiological studies suggest that their regular consumption could help prevent certain cancers such as those of the lung, ovaries and kidneys (in the latter case in women).
  2. Antioxidants are compounds that  protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals. These are very reactive molecules which are implicated in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging. Researchers have studied in vitro the effect of phenolic compounds (a large family of antioxidants) in ten vegetables on the growth of human cancer cells. The mixture of phenolic compounds extracted from cabbage has shown one of the strongest capacities to  reduce the growth of these cancer cells.
  3. Among the different varieties of cabbage, red cabbage is distinguished by its higher content of flavonoids, a category of antioxidants. The main flavonoid of red cabbage is cyanidin, an anthocyanin pigment which also contributes to its pronounced color. A review of the scientific literature on anthocyanins demonstrates beneficial properties for the  prevention of cancer.
  4. Cabbage as well as boiled red cabbage are excellent sources of vitamin K. Raw red cabbage, on the other hand, is a good source of vitamin K for women and a source for men, the needs of man being superior. Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis (manufacture) of proteins which collaborate in the coagulation of the blood (as much in the stimulation as in the inhibition of the blood coagulation). It also plays a role in bone formation. In addition to being found in food, vitamin K is manufactured by bacteria present in the intestine, hence the rarity of deficiencies in this vitamin.
  5. Boiled red cabbage is a  source of iron  for men only, the needs of women being greater. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It should be noted that the iron contained in food of vegetable origin is less absorbed by the organism than the iron contained in food of animal origin. However, the absorption of iron from plants is favored when consumed with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.
  6. Boiled red cabbage is a  source of manganese. Boiled common cabbage and raw red cabbage are sources for women only, since man’s needs are greater. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals.
  7. Boiled red cabbage is a  source of vitamin B1  for women only, since man’s needs are greater. Also called thiamine, vitamin B1 is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we eat. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth.
  8. Red cabbage and boiled common cabbage are  sources of vitamin B6. Also called pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is part of coenzymes that participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and allows them to transport more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. This vitamin finally plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.
  9. Cabbage is a  source of vitamin C . The role that vitamin C plays in the body goes beyond its antioxidant properties; it also contributes to the health of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. In addition, it protects against infections, promotes the absorption of iron from plants and accelerates healing.

Choosing the right cabbage

To choose the right cabbage, it must be firm and the leaves must be tightly pressed against each other. He should not have tasks.

The different forms

There are different types of cabbage: green cabbage, white cabbage, red cabbage. They are all from the same family as cauliflower, broccoli or even Brussels sprouts.

Keep well

In the refrigerator, the headed cabbage will keep for a few weeks in the vegetable drawer. Preferably choose very firm and heavy apples for their size. In the cellar, the so-called conservation varieties can be kept all winter.

Milan or Savoy cabbage will keep for a shorter time. It is therefore preferable to prepare it as soon as possible. The same goes for Brussels sprouts which, due to their small size, dry out and wilt quickly. The place of borécoles and cavaliers is certainly in the garden where they can survive severe colds. In the refrigerator, they will keep for a week.

Cabbage preparation

How to cook it? How to match it?

– To prevent discoloration of red cabbage, use a stainless steel knife to cut it. To keep its color during cooking, put only a little water in the pan with a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice.
– If the cabbage you are cooking starts to give off a sulphurous smell, it is because it has already cooked too long. Reduce the cooking time. We can also add to the cooking water a walnut with its shell, a celery stick or a piece of bread wrapped in muslin (to prevent it from coming apart), which would reduce the odor.

  • The inevitable Caldo Verde, considered the national dish of Portugal, is traditionally prepared with cabbage with large ribs, a rare species very close to borécole, which can be substituted for it. Cook potatoes in chicken broth, then add cabbage in strips. This very green soup can be garnished with thin slices of chorizo ​​sausage.
  • In Germany, red cabbage is made with sweet and sour: thin strips of red cabbage are cooked with apple slices, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.
In North America, we make a very popular coleslaw, called cole slaw, with grated raw white cabbage, which we let soften for a few hours in a vinaigrette.

  • In northern Europe, we accompany marinated cabbage meats: the red cabbage is cut into thin juliennes, then put in a deep dish with fine salt where it will macerate for six or seven hours. We will make sure to stir it often, then we will drain it, put it in a pot with a clove of garlic, peppercorns and a bay leaf. Cover with boiled and cooled vinegar, and marinate for a day or two.
  • Braised cabbage is prepared by first blanching the quarters for a few minutes in boiling water. Leaf, remove ribs and core, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and put it in a pan garnished with bacon bards with a carrot cut into pieces, an onion spiced with a clove, a bouquet garni, or chicken broth, a little butter or fat (preferably duck or goose). Cover with bacon strips, boil and braise gently for two hours. The cabbage partridge (guinea fowl or other game bird) is cooked for a long time in the oven set at low temperature. We cut the cabbage into quarters, place them in a thick pot, add the bird which we cover with a few cabbage leaves to prevent it from drying out and put a little water. This dish can be prepared with quail and Milan or Savoy cabbage. Avoid red cabbage which may give an unappetizing color to the flesh of the animal.
  • The Provencal sou-fassum is prepared by cooking a reconstituted cabbage in a muslin. Line the muslin with large blanched and water-cooled cabbage leaves, and place a stuffing on this bed made up of chopped and seasoned inside cabbage leaves, blanched and chopped chard leaves, sausage meat, lean bacon, diced and browned, a chopped onion buttered in butter, two chopped tomatoes, rice and peas. Knot the ends of the muslin to reform the cabbage, immerse the package in boiling water or a meat broth and cook it gently for three or four hours.
  • The cabbage is stuffed whole or by detaching its leaves first (cabbage cigars). Half-cooked rice, garlic, onion and minced meat are the usual ingredients, but you can also replace the meat with nuts or pine nuts. Nutmeg, caraway and marjoram are required. You can coat the cabbage cigars with a tomato sauce before baking them.
The heart of the cabbage, or core, is also full of nutrients. Thinly slice it to make it less fibrous, or use it to make broth.
  • In Ireland, colcannan is prepared, a dish of mashed potatoes, garnished with hash browns, finely chopped cooked cabbage, butter, salt and pepper. On St. Patrick’s Day, we eat corned beef with cabbage and beer … tinted green!
  • Brussels sprouts are eaten simply cooked in water and topped with butter, au gratin, or in a Flemish puree, that is to say cooked, sieved and completed for a third of an apple puree earthen. Be careful not to overcook them.
  • In England and the southern United States, borécole and cabbage are cooked with diced bacon or smoked ham. They are also added to soups and stews made from beans and barley, or spicy sausages.


Vitamin K and anticoagulants

Cabbage, especially green cabbage, contains a high amount of vitamin K. This vitamin, necessary among other things for blood clotting, can be produced by the body in addition to being found in certain foods. People taking anticoagulant drugs, such as those marketed under the names Coumadin®, Warfilone® and Sintrom®, should eat a diet in which the vitamin K content is relatively stable from day to day. Cabbage is part of a list of foods that should be eaten at most once a day and in a maximum amount of 250 ml (1 cup) each time.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Some people with irritable bowel syndrome may experience intolerance to certain foods to varying degrees. Intolerance sometimes happens to cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage. By limiting or avoiding fermentable foods like those of the cruciferous family, people with this syndrome can alleviate certain symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea. When the symptoms are mild, or during periods known as “remission”, it is sometimes possible to gradually reinstate these foods, always respecting individual tolerance (for more information on this functional disorder, see our Intestinal Syndrome sheet irritable.

The interaction between crucifers and certain drugs

Indoles, compounds found naturally in cruciferous vegetables, can in particular reduce the action of certain analgesics such as products containing acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Atasol®, Tempra®, etc.) and other drugs combining a mixture of active ingredients (Benylin®, Contac®, Robaxacet®, etc.). People who eat a large amount of cruciferous vegetables should take this into consideration.

Cabbage history

The term “cabbage”, which comes from the Latin caulis, appeared in the French language in the 12th century. Cabbage has been designated as “caboche”, then “cabus”, words borrowed from the Italian capoccia or cappuccio, which mean “with a big head”.

The Brussels sprout, which is, after all, a small headed cabbage growing in the axils of the leaves, takes its name from the fact that it was created in this city around 1650 in order to make the cultivable area profitable, which was becoming scarce due to the increase in the urban population.

The Latin name for the species Brassica is derived from a Celtic word, bresic, which rightly meant “cabbage”, while oleracea means vegetable garden. A Brassica oleracea is a cabbage from the vegetable patch.

The types of cabbage commonly eaten in the West all come from a single wild ancestor, Brassica oleracea var. oleracea, some of which date domestication to 2,000 years ago in the countries of the eastern Mediterranean basin or in Anatolia, south of the Black Sea; others believe that there was a much older ancestor, now extinct, which was already cultivated 8,000 years ago on the coasts of northern Europe. This wild ancestor would have been introduced in the countries of the Mediterranean basin, in Eastern Europe, and even in the Near East and in the East. One thing has been proven: the wild species Brassica oleracea oleracea still grows today on the rocky coasts of the Mediterranean, northern Spain, south-western France,

Over the centuries, Brassica oleracea has given rise to subspecies with extremely diverse characteristics depending on whether we wanted to develop the leaves (borécole, collard greens or collard greens, cabbage with large ribs), the leaves forming the apple ( Milan or Savoy cabbage, white cabbage, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts), flowers (broccoli, cauliflower) or stems (kohlrabi).

The first cultivated cabbages were probably borécoles (kale in English), cavalier cabbages (collards) or large-ribbed cabbages (Portuguese cabbage), species that have been selected over the centuries for their leaves, significantly larger than those of their wild ancestor. These cabbages did not ooze, as evidenced by the Latin name of borécole, Brassica oleracea var. acephala, which literally means “headless cabbage from the vegetable patch”. It was around the 5th century BCE that this first variant of wild cabbage took its final form. Then, tastes changing, we took an interest in the bouquet of young tender leaves found in the heart of the cabbage plant and we began to choose preferably the subjects in which this characteristic was well developed. This selection helping, cabbage will appear around the 1st century AD, and it will be given the name of Brassica oleracea var. capitata, or, literally, “cabbage with the head of the vegetable patch”.

Over time, varieties will be created with pointed, conical, flat or round apples, the color of which will range from creamy white to purple red, each giving rise to the appearance of local culinary specialties.

For further

Organic garden

Very demanding for the soil, cabbage requires good manuring. In addition, to reduce the incidence of certain diseases, a four-year rotation is required. Remember that radish, turnip and mustard are part of the same family and should not be part of the rotation.

Between the first early plants they will put in the ground in mid-April until the harvest of Brussels sprouts in late November, early December, gardeners have access to an incredible number of cultivars. By counting the so-called conservation cabbages and the borécoles which bravely face the cold in the garden, they will be able to eat fresh cabbage practically all year round.

The main problem in our climates is the white cabbage, an innocent little white butterfly, cabbage like everything, with wings spotted with a black eye, which swirls continuously over the square of brassicas to deposit its tiny eggs on their appetizing leaves fleshy. There are three natural ways to get rid of it.

Here they are, starting with the most ecological:

  • By temporarily transforming into a butterfly hunter. Catching the adults before they lay their eggs will significantly limit the damage;
  • By spraying, at the time of the appearance of the larvae, a natural insecticide based on Bacillus thuringiensis; it will probably be necessary to treat a few times during the season;
  • By sprinkling the larvae with rotenone. Although natural, this solution is the last to consider, because while being safe for humans, mammals and amphibians, rotenone is not selective and attacks all insects, desirable or not, including trajectory goes through the cabbage square.

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