Hello! Thanks for browsing on down to my cabbage patch. I know we’re not one of the glamour vegies but we’re really interesting all the same and have a fascinating history. Would you like to hear it?
Good. Well, did you know that you probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for us cabbages. That’s right! You see a long time ago humans discovered how good we were to eat, and they also learned to preserve us, so that they could have the benefits of our wonderful nutrients through their famished winter days. Without our vitamins and minerals they would probably have become ill and died...OK...so we may have had a little help from some other foods but we were very important to most societies around the world.
Even though we were so important, we never let that go to our heads - we were always seen as the vegetable of the ‘humble folk’.
There are lots of us in the cabbage family, so let me tell you about us. We have compact heads and come in many sizes, shapes and colours. Our heads can be firm or loose; flattish, conical or cylindrical; and we range in colour from white to green to red. Chinese cabbages are another branch of our family which are different again.
Did you know?
Plain or drumhead cabbage, or rounded head cabbage - We have a roundish, small, soccer ball sized head with smooth, white veined leaves tightly packed together. Some of us are more pointed and called pointed head cabbages. We come in two colours - green and red.
Why Cabbage Are Good To Eat
• We’re a great source of vitamin C, especially red cabbage - 100g of most types of cabbage have more than a full day’s supply of this vitamin
How They are Grown and Harvested
We’re usually planted as seedlings at any time from spring to late autumn. We require lots of water for good growth and can be grown anywhere as long as the soil is rich and firmly packed so we don’t fall over when we grow bigger. The faster we grow the tender and sweeter we’ll be. We need about two cool months in which to mature.
When we’re harvested we’re cut off at ground level by hand just leaving behind our stalk and outer leaves. We’re never grown in the same soil two years in a row as we can easily get a disease called ‘club root’ which affects our growth.
How to Keep Cabbage
Prime Growing Areas
History of Cabbage
As I mentioned in my introduction, whether stored fresh or pickled, we were extremely important as a staple winter vegetable in cold climates when nothing else was available.
Sir Joseph Banks, following his return from his travels with Captain Cook, ensured our seeds were sent to Australia with the First Fleet in 1788. This shipment included large quantities of several branches of our family and in 1788 the earliest maturing varieties were planted on Norfolk Island. By the 1830’s we were Australia’s favourite vegetable and large quantities of us were sold at the Sydney Markets.
Chinese cabbage was recorded as early as the 5th century. As in the colder areas of Europe, Chinese cabbage formed an important part of the Chinese population’s winter diet. Since then many different varieties have been developed resulting in the Chinese cabbage family we know today.
Introduced into Japan in the mid 19th century, and to the USA later in the 19th century, Chinese cabbage probably first came to Australia during the 1800’s with the Chinese workers headed for the gold fields.
Fun Ways to Eat and Cook Cabbage
Do not overcook or we go watery and an unpleasant sulphur odour may develop. Putting a walnut in the water while cooking cabbage is said to minimise that odour. Use us in coleslaw, salads, as a vegietable, in sauces, spring rolls or as an edible ‘wrapper’ as in cabbage rolls.
Try some of these easy cabbage recipes:
Savoury Fried Cabbage
Cabbage And Corn Fritters
Tasty Cabbage Soup
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