Suppression

Cabbage

Category: Food

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

grown for fun and a little gentle competition on the allotments of the north of England

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea or variants) is a leafy green or purple/red biennial plant, grown as an annual vegetable crop for its dense-leaved heads.

It belongs to the brassica family

Closely related to other cole crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, it descends from B. oleracea var. oleracea, a wild field cabbage.

Cabbage heads generally range from 0.5 to 4 kilograms (1 to 9 lb), and can be green, red/purple and white. “Under conditions of long sunlit days such as are found at high northern latitudes in summer, cabbages can grow much larger”.  Indeed they can and do.

There are numerous varieties:

  • Curly leaved varieties such as the Savoy cabbage [Brassica oleracea sabauda]
  • Smooth-leafed firm-headed green cabbages – such as the so called ‘Dutch cabbage’
  • Chinese cabbage [Brassica rapa pekinensis]
  • Red Cabbages and White cabbages [Brassica oleracea capitate]

The so called Swamp cabbage is not actually a cabbage.  It is a kind of spinach -  Ipomoea aquatica (water spinach), of the dicot family Convolvulaceae.

There are even decorative cabbages, which are often edible  - just - but bred to be pretty multi-coloured and crinkly leaved.

Nutritionally it does not make a great deal of sense to separate them all, as apart from the red cabbage [which does have some extra properties] they share much of the same nutritional value and medicinal properties.  Thus they are all grouped here with their observations, but the name of the cabbage referred to is saved if it is a specific variety in each observation.

The brassica family includes broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts

 

History

It is difficult to trace the exact history of cabbage, but it was most likely domesticated somewhere in Europe before 1000 BC, although savoys were not developed until the 16th century. By the Middle Ages, it had become a prominent part of European cuisine.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that world production of cabbage and other brassicas for 2011 was almost 69 million metric tons (68 million long tons; 75 million short tons). Almost half of these crops were grown in China, where Chinese cabbage is the most popular Brassica vegetable.

 

Cultivation

Cabbages are not frost tender, meaning they can be extremely hardy. The savoy cabbage in particular is a marvellous plant and in our garden has withstood heavy frosts and snow several feet deep and still come up crisp and tender.

Although cabbages are often grown as a winter crop, because they can withstand quite harsh conditions and provide a lovely winter vegetable, there are spring cabbages and cabbages that will mature in the summer.  Thus it is possible to get a year round supply simply by choosing different varieties.

Chinese cabbage

Cabbages will grow in most well drained soils, but prefer alkaline soils.  This is very important.  My father used to add a small amount of lime every year to the soil to help with his Fenland allotment, the Fenland soil was beautiful soil, friable and stone free, but it was slightly acidic and the plants suffered from clubroot if the soil was too acidic.

Cabbage intensively grown and in an industrial style farming environment  is prone to several nutrient deficiencies, as well as multiple pests, bacterial and fungal diseases.  Grown less intensively, it is an easy hardy crop and its only real enemy is the butterfly – notably the well named CABBAGE WHITE!!!

One of my abiding memories is of my Dad on his hands and knees methodically working his way along a cabbage row picking off the caterpillars from his cabbages and placing them carefully in a bucket.  Being a man of great gentleness and not wanting to kill the caterpillars, he took the bucket away from the allotment by bike and deposited them some miles away. 

spring cabbage

But he might have benefited from knowing that there are companion plants that can help with cabbages.  According to Plants for a Future, who in turn obtained their information from two books -  Companion Plants by H Philbrick and R B Greggand the  A - Z of Companion Planting by P.Allardice. “Cabbages are good companions for dill, camomile, sage, wormwood, mint and other aromatic plants which help to reduce insect predations on the cabbages”. 

Cabbages are usually sown in seedbeds and protected with netting whilst they establish themselves – birds, especially pigeons, like baby cabbages.  Here in the North we sow them in an unheated greenhouse, which avoids the birds but doesn’t avoid the mice.  The seeds must be sown widely apart because if the seedlings are too close together they will soon become leggy and will not make such good plants, they may also get fungal diseases. If your seedlings do get leggy, it is possible to plant them rather deeper into the soil - the buried stems will soon form roots and the plant will be better supported.

savoy cabbage

The plants are moved to their final positions when about 7 - 15cm tall.   Seed of fast-growing summer cabbages can also be sown in a greenhouse in January/February in order to provide an early crop. This is planted out in early to mid-spring as the weather allows and can be harvested in late spring and early summer.

Club root and the cabbage root fly [a parasitic worm] are the bane of the allotment holder and it is essential that the soil is kept in tip top condition and that the plants are not disturbed too much [the smell attracts the fly].  We have found that fleece over the plants as they are establishing themselves protects against the root fly and the fleece can be used over and over again, meaning it is not a huge expense each year.

Nutrients

The following table comes from the USDA nutrients database.

Full Report (All Nutrients):  11109, Cabbage, raw   Food Group: Vegetables and Vegetable Products :  Scientific Name:  Brassica oleracea (Capitata Group)

 

 

Nutrient

Unit

Per 100g

Water

g

92.18

Energy

kcal

25

Energy

kJ

103

Protein

g

1.28

Total lipid (fat)

g

0.10

Ash

g

0.64

Carbohydrate, by difference

g

5.80

Fiber, total dietary

g

2.5

Sugars, total

g

3.20

Sucrose

g

0.08

Glucose (dextrose)

g

1.67

Fructose

g

1.45

Lactose

g

0.00

Maltose

g

0.01

Galactose

g

0.00

Starch

g

0.00

MINERALS

 

 

Calcium, Ca

mg

40

Iron, Fe

mg

0.47

Magnesium, Mg

mg

12

Phosphorus, P

mg

26

Potassium, K

mg

170

Sodium, Na

mg

18

Zinc, Zn

mg

0.18

Copper, Cu

mg

0.019

Manganese, Mn

mg

0.160

Selenium, Se

µg

0.3

Fluoride, F

µg

1.0

Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid

mg

36.6

Thiamin

mg

0.061

Riboflavin

mg

0.040

Niacin

mg

0.234

Pantothenic acid

mg

0.212

Vitamin B-6

mg

0.124

Folate, total

µg

43

Folic acid

µg

0

Folate, food

µg

43

Folate, DFE

µg

43

Choline, total

mg

10.7

Betaine

mg

0.4

Vitamin B-12

µg

0.00

Vitamin B-12, added

µg

0.00

Vitamin A, RAE

µg

5

Retinol

µg

0

Carotene, beta

µg

42

Carotene, alpha

µg

33

Cryptoxanthin, beta

µg

0

Vitamin A, IU

IU

98

Lycopene

µg

0

Lutein + zeaxanthin

µg

30

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)

mg

0.15

Vitamin E, added

mg

0.00

Tocopherol, beta

mg

0.00

Tocopherol, gamma

mg

0.00

Tocopherol, delta

mg

0.00

Vitamin D (D2 + D3)

µg

0.0

Vitamin D

IU

0

Vitamin K (phylloquinone)

µg

76.0

Fatty acids, total saturated

g

0.034

Fatty acids, total monounsaturated

g

0.017

Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated

g

0.017

AMINO ACIDS

 

 

Tryptophan

g

0.011

Threonine

g

0.035

Isoleucine

g

0.030

Leucine

g

0.041

Lysine

g

0.044

Methionine

g

0.012

Cystine

g

0.011

Phenylalanine

g

0.032

Tyrosine

g

0.019

Valine

g

0.042

Arginine

g

0.075

Histidine

g

0.022

Alanine

g

0.042

Aspartic acid

g

0.122

Glutamic acid

g

0.294

Glycine

g

0.030

Proline

g

0.048

Serine

g

0.053

 

 

Method

stuffed cabbage

Cabbage is an immensely versatile vegetable and if it is freshly picked it has a wonderful sweetness and crunchiness often not found in old shop bought vegetables.

Cabbages can be pickled, fermented for dishes such as sauerkraut, steamed, stewed, sautéed, braised, or eaten raw.

This autumn we have a lot of unripe pears we have had to remove from the trees before the frosts come.  Pears will ripen inside, but there is a delicious recipe which uses onions [first fried], cabbage chopped, unripe or firm pears halved and deseeded, cider or stock, fennel seeds and pork sausages [whole pork] which can be slow cooked in a casserole, which is the ultimate winter warmer.

with feta cheese and mint .............

Coleslaw is much better if it is made with thinly sliced very fresh cabbage folded in to a dressing made of whipping cream [not whipped!], English mustard and sugar and then garnished with chopped chives.

Cabbage is also good ‘gujerati style’.  Black mustard seeds are popped in very hot oil, a pinch of asafoetida is added and then chopped shallots.  At the last minute before serving, the chopped cabbage is added and stirred round in the hot oil so that it is still crisp but slightly cooked.

Bubble and squeak patties ..........

Chopped cabbage goes well with diced apple and nuts such as cashews  in an olive oil or nut oil and cider vinegar dressing.  This salad can be served with cheese as well as plain meats.

Cabbage stir fried in butter and then folded into thick cream can be used as the base for smoked haddock and poached egg, making it a substantial delicious supper dish.

 

 

Related observations