Food Information
Cabbage Family


While there are countless varieties of head cabbage, they can be divided into three groups: green, red, and Savoy (curly). Nearly all cabbage falls into the first group.

Green cabbage is available twelve months of the year. Barring unusual weather conditions, supplies are always ample and prices are always reasonable. Along with carrots, green cabbage is almost always the least costly, yet one of the most nutritious, fresh vegetables at the produce counter. It is grown in every state, the top producers being Florida, Texas, California, New Jersey, and New York. Most of America's sauerkraut is canned in upstate New York.

Cabbage isn't one of our most elite vegetables because it gives off a strong odor during the cooking process. There are many old wives' tales about checking the odor of cooking cabbage. One is to drop a walnut (shell and all) into the boiling water. However, the best bet is to open a couple of windows or, if you have one, turn on the exhaust fan. Cabbage is not only used as a cooked vegetable but is the main ingredient in making cole slaw.

Green cabbage is also known as new cabbage because it arrives at market with all of its green outer leaves. The fresher the cabbage, the greener the leaves. New cabbage is available twelve months of the year. In Grandma's era, during the winter and spring in the northern half of the United States, new cabbage was out of season. However, since cabbage keeps for months without spoiling, Grandma used cabbage that had been stored in barns. This was called old cabbage, was white rather than green in color, and was usually as hard as a rock. Old cabbage is still used by the makers of the commercial cole slaw sold in supermarkets. You can recognize it because it is white rather than pale green.

Red cabbage, except for its color, is identical to the green type, but usually sells at a higher price. Savoy cabbage has lacy, curly leaves. The head is never quite as hard as that of green or red cabbage, but it has a more delicate flavor and texture. Savoy cabbage usually sells for about the same price as red cabbage.

When purchasing cabbage, select solid, heavy, fresh-looking heads. Avoid those that have flabby yellow leaves.

Deamer 5/97