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Cabbage, Savoy

Why Eat It
Varieties
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

Savoy cabbage, as a member of the large family of cruciferous vegetables, is rich in nutrients. Along with vitamin C, it contains significant amounts of nitrogen compounds known as indoles, as well as fiber--both of which appear to lower the risk of various forms of cancer. Savoy cabbage contains a significant amount of folate (folic acid) and some beta-carotene (five times more than either green and red cabbage). It also has a more delicate texture and milder flavor than other varieties of cabbage, making it a good choice for salads and coleslaw.

Varieties

Savoy cabbage has crinkled, ruffly yellow-green leaves that form a less compact head than other types; it is about as hard as iceberg lettuce.

Availability

Cabbage grows in a variety of climates and conditions; in fact, it is cultivated commercially in almost every state for local markets, and since it also stores well, there is always a good supply. During the winter, most cabbage comes from California, Florida, and Texas. Savoy, less common than other cabbages, is most widely available from September through March.

Shopping

Look for solid, heavy heads of cabbage, with clean outer leaves that are free of discolored veins or worm damage, which may penetrate the interior of the head. The stem should be closely trimmed and healthy looking, not dry or split. The inner and outer leaves should be tightly attached to the stem.

A head of cabbage should not look puffy, although Savoy types are normally looser and lighter than smooth-leaved types. Fall and winter cabbage from storage is usually firmer than the fresh picked types sold in spring and summer.

Storage

Cabbage keeps well--and retains its vitamin C--if kept cold. Place the whole head of cabbage in a perforated plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator crisper. Savoy cabbage is more delicate than other varieties and will keep for about one week.

Once a head of cabbage is cut, cover the cut surface tightly with plastic wrap and use the remainder within a day or two. Rubbing the cut surface with lemon juice will prevent it from discoloring.

Preparation

Don't wash cabbage until you are ready to use it. If you want to rinse it, do so after cutting or chopping. Avoid cutting or tearing cabbage in advance (it will lose vitamin C).

When cutting cabbage into wedges, leave part of the core intact to help hold the leaves together. However, when cutting it into smaller pieces, first quarter and core it: Cut the cabbage in quarters through the stem. Then cut out a wedge-shaped section from each quarter to remove the stem and core.

To slice or shred cabbage, place a quarter wedge on the cutting board, resting on its side. Slice the wedge vertically, gauging your cuts to produce wide ribbons or fine shreds, as desired. Alternately, you can grate cabbage by hand on the coarse side of a grater, or shred it in the food processor, using the grating disk.

Use a stainless steel (not carbon steel) knife when cutting cabbage; the vegetable's juices react with carbon steel and will turn the cut edges of the cabbage black.

For salads other than slaws, the soft leaves of Savoy cabbage can be torn like lettuce rather than cut with a knife.

To remove single leaves for stuffing, cut the base of each leaf with a sharp knife, then carefully peel the leaf from the head to avoid tearing it.

Boiling: The pungent smell for which cabbage is notorious is caused by sulfur compounds released when the vegetable is heated. Cook cabbage quickly, in a large quantity of water, in an uncovered pot (don't use an aluminum pot, which promotes the chemical reaction).

Another advantage to cooking cabbage briefly in an uncovered pot is that it will conserve more of its vitamin C. Adding cabbage to water that's already boiling will also help. After cooking, save the water to use in stock or soup. Cooking times: for quarters or large wedges, eight to 10 minutes; for shredded cabbage, two to three minutes.

Braising: Any type of cabbage can be braised in stock, apple juice, cider, or wine. Thinly sliced onions will enhance the flavor. Place quartered or shredded cabbage and just enough liquid to cover it in the pan, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender. You can also braise the vegetable in the oven. Cooking times: 15 to 30 minutes.

Microwaving: Cut a head of cabbage into wedges and place them in a microwaveable baking dish with 2 tablespoons water, vegetable broth, or chicken stock. For shredded cabbage, add 1/4 cup liquid to 2 cups cabbage. Cooking time: for wedges, five to seven minutes; for shredded, five minutes, stirring halfway through.

Steaming: This is the best way to conserve nutrients, color, and crisp-tender texture. If cabbage is steamed with no added water--that is, cooked in its own moisture--it will retain 68% of its vitamin C content, compared to 44% when cooked in water to cover. Place quartered, sliced, or shredded cabbage in a vegetable steamer over boiling water, or in a pan with 1/2" of boiling water. Cooking times: for quarters or large wedges, 10 to 15 minutes; for shredded cabbage, five to 10 minutes.

Stir-frying: Stir-fry sliced or shredded cabbage on its own, or combined with other vegetables such as red bell peppers. Cooking time: one to two minutes.

Nutrition Chart

Savoy Cabbage/1 cup shredded raw

19
Total fat (g)
0.1
Saturated fat (g)
0
Monounsaturated fat (g)
0
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
0
Dietary fiber (g)
2.2
1
Carbohydrate (g)
4
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
20
Vitamin C (mg)
22
Folate (mcg)
56


Date Published: 04/20/2005
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