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Mary-Linh Tran

Junior Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we’ll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To market, we go!

Of the hundreds of cabbage varieties out there in the world, white cabbage is perhaps the most widely known one, and yet, it’s one of those ingredients we often gloss over or feel indifferent to. While my memories of shredded cabbage are strongly tinged with creamy mayo and summer potlucks, this is slowly changing as I fine-tune myself to what’s in-season here in Germany, which in December means one thing: white cabbage. Now I find myself dog-earring recipes for steamed cabbage rolls, spicy cabbage stews, crispy cabbage fritters, the list goes on.

Admittedly, I’ve never thought extensively about white cabbage and its incredible potential for vamping up all sorts of dishes until I started writing this article, but I’ve learned a lot, and hope you will, too. From traditional salads and slaws to casseroles, soups, and of course, sauerkraut, white cabbage is an unsung hero that we should all be celebrating this winter.

1. When and how to buy white cabbage

Although it pales in comparison to eye-catching red cabbage or the lacy veins found in savoy, don’t be fooled by this humble vegetable’s appearance. The delicate flavors found in white cabbage make it super malleable, lending it to a wide range of cooking methods: You can eat it raw, steam it, stew it, braise it, sautée it, and to extend its shelf-life, pickle or ferment it. In fact, when we ferment white cabbage, it undergoes a process that unleashes a tsunami of probiotics, boosting its nutritional value. White cabbage is also rich in vitamins C and K, as well as magnesium, potassium, and fiber—all immune system supporters that can help combat winter colds and illness.

These winter-loving vegetables flourish in December and January, but they can often be found in grocery stores beginning September—and in some places, all year long! If you live in an area where it’s available throughout the year, bear in mind it was likely picked and sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, and other preservatives to prevent it from rotting. If freshness is what you’re after, then buying white cabbage in the peak of winter is the way to go.

2. How to store fresh white cabbage

One perk of white cabbage is its endurance after being harvested. Because it prefers cold and moist environments, cabbage will do wonderfully for 3 - 4 weeks in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. To help protect it from the fridge’s dry air, wrap a damp towel over the head and store it in a perforated (or open) plastic bag.

To freeze white cabbage, always remove the outer leaves and thoroughly clean it in cold water. Depending on how you want to freeze the cabbage, whether it’s chopped, shredded, or cut into wedges, go ahead and prep that before moving onto blanching. As with all vegetables, the duration for blanching white cabbage relies on how large the pieces are. Shredded or single leaves only need to sit in the pot for about one minute, while quartered or halved wedges require closer to three minutes. After blanching, throw the cabbage into an ice bath to halt the cooking process and shake dry before flash freezing in the icebox. Once the cabbage has frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag, where they’ll be safe for up to one year.

3. All the ways to enjoy and prepare white cabbage

To reap white cabbage of its health benefits, it’s best to keep tempering this veg to a minimum. Cooking cabbage for long periods of time not only softens the leaves and can make them mushy, but also destroys the nutrients. Besides, you don’t want to lose any of the cabbage’s natural sweetness and earthy flavors! Savor its crunchy texture by grating it over salads, stews, soups, or casseroles. Another fun way to work with cabbage is to use its whole leaves as a wrap for rolling all your favorite fillings into a neat (or messy) bundle of deliciousness.

4. What to make next

If our gentle nudging hasn’t made you inch towards the cabbage box just yet, we’ll also be featuring white cabbage recipes all week long on Kitchen Stories to celebrate this winter veg’s versatility. Check back to see what’s new, then try one for yourself! Here’s where to start:

Stuffed cabbage rolls with creamy tomato sauce

Stuffed cabbage rolls with creamy tomato sauce

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Reuben sandwich with pastrami and coleslaw

Reuben sandwich with pastrami and coleslaw

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German cabbage slaw with caraway

German cabbage slaw with caraway

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Russian cabbage soup

Russian cabbage soup

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Austrian cabbage pasta with caraway butter

Austrian cabbage pasta with caraway butter

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More delicious ideas for you