Even though the inside of cabbage is usually clean since the outer leaves protect it, you still may want to clean it. Wash whole cabbage head under running water or remove the thick fibrous outer leaves and cut the cabbage into pieces and then wash under running water.
We recommend washing cabbage just prior to eating or cooking in order to help decrease the rate of deterioration. To cut cabbage into smaller pieces, first quarter it and remove the core. Cabbage can be cut into slices of varying thickness, grated by hand or shredded in a food processor.
The Nutrient-Rich Way of Cooking Cabbage
From all of the cooking methods we tried when cooking cabbage, our favorite is Healthy Sauté. We think that it provides the greatest flavor. Healthy Sauté similar to Quick Boiling and Quick Steaming, our other recommended cooking methods follows three basic cooking guidelines that are generally associated in food science research with improved nutrient retention.
These three guidelines are: (1) minimal necessary heat exposure; (2) minimal necessary cooking duration; (3) minimal necessary food surface contact with cooking liquid.
However, in some recent studies on cabbage cooking, different cooking methods have been found to produce differing results. For example, when 5-minute boiling was compared to 5-minute streaming, 5-minute microwaving, and 5-minute steaming, boiling came out better than either steaming or microwaving for preserving the anthocyanins in red cabbage. For retention of vitamin C in this same study, however, steaming came out best.
Fermentation of raw cabbage has also been shown in several recent studies to provide some health benefits that heat-based cooking methods cannot. For example, fermentation of cabbage has been shown to result in increased formation of ascorbigen, a well-documented antioxidant formed by the interaction of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) with indole-3-carbinol (I3C). I3C is the isothiocyanate that can be made from glucobrassicin, one of the glucosinolates present in cabbage. The creation of ascorbigen through cabbage fermentation has further been shown to improve oxidative stress and antioxidant capacity in several animal studies.
Finally, several recent studies have point out that raw cabbage can offer greater amounts of certain nutrients that either cooked or fermented cabbage. In one study, the incorporation of fresh, uncooked, chopped red cabbage was recommended as an optimal way to derive nutritional benefits from this cruciferous vegetable.
Slicing Cabbage very thin before cooking and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes helps bring out their hidden flavors and makes them more enjoyable. You can start to smell the complex rich aroma after you cut it. This is similar to the reactions that occur that causes the pungent smell when onions and garlic are cut, although the smell is not quite as intense For more on how preparation methods may impact the benefit of cruciferous vegetables.
To Healthy Sauté cabbage, heat 5 TBS of vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water in a stainless steel skillet. Once bubbles begin to form add shredded cabbage, cover, and Healthy Sauté for 5 minutes. For great Mediterranean flavor, transfer to a bowl and toss with Mediterranean Dressing. (See our 5-Minute Healthy Sautéed Red Cabbage recipe for details on how to prepare this dish.)
Ginger is a great addition to your Healthy Sautéed cabbage; you can also add rice vinegar and sesame seeds.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Braise red cabbage with a chopped apple and red wine. This is a child-friendly dish since the alcohol (but not the flavor or the flavonoids) will evaporate.
- Combine shredded red and green cabbage with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper to make coleslaw with an Indian twist.
Some WHFoods recipes that feature cabbage:
- Asian Chicken Salad
- Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad
- Spicy Cabbage Soup
- Poached Fish with Napa Cabbage
- Sesame Braised Chicken & Cabbage
- Sweet N’ Sour Cod with Cabbage and Broccoli
- Vegetarian Stir-Fry
- Napa Cabbage Salad
- 5-Minute Healthy Sautéed Red Cabbage
- Gingered Cabbage
In case, you will want to include cabbage as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis if you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family. At a minimum, we recommend 3/4 cup of cruciferous vegetables on a daily basis. This amount is equivalent to approximately 5 cups per week. A more optimal intake amount would be 1-1/2 cups per day, or about 10 cups per week. You can use our Veggie Advisor for help in figuring out your best cruciferous vegetable options.
Traditional methods of steaming or boiling make cabbage watery. Traditional methods of steaming or boiling make cabbage watery. To avoid this result and promote optimal flavor, we recommend Healthy Sautéeing cabbage. Slice cabbage into 1/8-inch slices and let sit for 5 minutes to enhance its health-promoting benefits before cooking. For more details see the Nutrient-Rich Way of Cooking Cabbage below.
Our Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad recipe is a great example of how to enjoy the delicate flavor of napa cabbage in your favorite salad. It is a milder tasting variety of cabbage that boasts the highest concentration of folate.
Enjoy the mild flavor of bok choy by using our Healthy Sauté method of cooking. Our 4-Minute Healthy Sautéed Bok Choy recipe will give you great tasting bok choy in a matter of minutes!