Cabbage and its cross section
|Mediterranean, 1st century|
|Cultivar group members|
|Many; see text.|
The plant is also called head cabbage or heading cabbage, and in Scotland a bowkail, from its rounded shape. The Scots call its stalk a castock, and the British occasionally call its head a loaf. It is in the same genus as the turnip – Brassica rapa.
Cabbage leaves often have a delicate, powdery, waxy coating called bloom. The occasionally sharp or bitter taste of cabbage is due to glucosinolate(s). Cabbages are also a good source of riboflavin.
Historywild mustard plant, native to the Mediterranean region, where it is common along the seacoast. Also called sea cabbage and wild cabbage, it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans; Cato the Elder praised this vegetable for its medicinal properties, declaring that "It is the cabbage that surpasses all other vegetables." The English name derives from the Normanno-Picard caboche (head), perhaps from boche (swelling, bump). Cabbage was developed by ongoing artificial selection for suppression of the internode length.
UsesThe only part of the plant that is normally eaten is the leafy head; more precisely, the spherical cluster of immature leaves, excluding the partially unfolded outer leaves. Cabbage is used in a variety of dishes for its naturally spicy flavor. The so-called "cabbage head" is widely consumed raw, cooked, or preserved in a great variety of dishes. It is the principal ingredient in coleslaw.
"Cabbages are extremely windy, whether you take them as meat or as medicine, as windy meat as can be eaten, unless you eat bag-pipes or bellows, and they are but seldom eaten in our days; and Colewort flowers are something more tolerable, and the wholesomer food of the two."soups or stews. Cabbage soup is popular in Central and eastern Europe, and cabbage is an ingredient in some kinds of borscht. Garbure (from Provençal garburo) is a thick soup of cabbage or other vegetables with bacon. Cabbage may be an ingredient in kugel, a baked pudding served as a side dish or dessert. Cabbage is also used in many popular dishes in India. Boiling tenderizes the leaves and releases sugars, which leads to the characteristic "cabbage" aroma. Boiled cabbage has become stigmatized because of its strong cooking odor and the belief that it causes flatulence. Moreover, boiling reduces the cabbage's anti-cancer properties. It is often prepared and served with boiled meat and other vegetables as part of a boiled dinner. Harold McGee has studied the development of unpleasant smells when cooking brassicas and reports that they develop with prolonged cooking. According to Corriher's Compendium smell doubles when prolonging cooking from 5 to 7 minutes; for best results cabbage should be sliced thinly and cooked for 4 minutes.
Cabbage rolls, a type of dolma, are an East European and Middle Eastern delicacy. The leaves are softened by parboiling or by placing the whole head of cabbage in the freezer, and then stuffed with a mixture of chopped meat and/or rice. Stuffed cabbage is called holishkes in Yiddish. A vegetable stuffed with shredded cabbage and then pickled is called mango.
The largest cabbage dish ever made was on 19 December 2008 in the Macedonian city of Prilep, with 80,191 sarmas (cabbage rolls) weighing 544 kg (1,221 lbs). Bubble and squeak consists of potatoes and cabbage or, especially formerly, potatoes, cabbage and meat fried together. Potatoes and cabbage or other greens boiled and mashed together make up a dish called colcannon, an Irish Gaelic word meaning white-headed cabbage, grounded in Old Irish terms for cabbage or kale (cāl), head (cend or cenn) and white (find). In the American South and Midland, corn dodgers were boiled as dumplings with cabbage and ham.
Fermented and preservedCabbage is the basis for sauerkraut. Chinese suan cai and Korean kimchi are produced using the related Chinese cabbage. To pickle cabbage it is covered with a brine made of its own juice with salt, and left in a warm place for several weeks to ferment. Sauerkraut (colloquially referred to as "kraut") was historically prepared at home in large batches, as a way of storing food for the winter. The word comes from German sauer (sour) and kraut (plant or cabbage) (Old High German sūr and krūt). Cabbage can also be pickled in vinegar with various spices, alone or in combination with other vegetables (turnips can be cured in the same way). Korean baechu kimchi is usually sliced thicker than its European counterpart, and the addition of onions, chiles, minced garlic and ginger is common.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||103 kJ (25 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.5 g|
|Thiamine (Vit. B1)||0.061 mg (5%)|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||0.040 mg (3%)|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||0.234 mg (2%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.212 mg (4%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.124 mg (10%)|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||53 μg (13%)|
|Vitamin C||36.6 mg (61%)|
|Calcium||40 mg (4%)|
|Iron||0.47 mg (4%)|
|Magnesium||12 mg (3%)|
|Phosphorus||26 mg (4%)|
|Potassium||170 mg (4%)|
|Zinc||0.18 mg (2%)|
|Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Along with broccoli and other brassica vegetables, cabbage is a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. The compound is also used as an adjuvant therapy for recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a disease of the head and neck caused by human papillomavirus (usually types 6 and 11) that causes growths in the airway that can lead to death. Boiling reduces anti-cancer properties.
In European folk medicine, cabbage leaves are used to treat acute inflammation. A paste of raw cabbage may be placed in a cabbage leaf and wrapped around the affected area to reduce discomfort. Some claim it is effective in relieving painfully engorged breasts in breastfeeding women.
Fresh cabbage juice has been shown to promote rapid healing of peptic ulcers.
Effect on the Thyroid GlandCabbage may also act as a goitrogen. It blocks organification in thyroid cells, thus inhibiting the production of the thyroid hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). The result is an increased secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) due to low thyroid hormone levels. This increase in TSH results in an enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter).
Varieties Cabbages grown late in autumn and in the beginning of winter are called coleworts; their leaves do not form a compact head. "Colewort" may also refer to a young cabbage. The word comes from Latin caulis (stalk of a plant, cabbage) and Old English wyrt (herb, plant, root). A drumhead cabbage has a rounded, flattened head. An oxheart cabbage has an oval or conical head. A pickling cabbage, such as the red-leafed cabbage, is especially suitable for pickling; krautman is the most common variety for commercial production of sauerkraut. Red cabbage is a small, round-headed type with dark red leaves. Savoy cabbage has a round, compact head with crinkled and curled leaves. Winter cabbage will survive the winter in the open in mild regions such as the southern United States; the name is also used for Savoy cabbage. Other traditional varieties include white cabbage, "Late Flat Dutch", "Early Jersey Wakefield" (a conical variety) and "Danish Ballhead" (late, round-headed).
ProductionThe most cabbage in the world is produced in China, followed by India and then the Russian Federation.
|Top ten producers of cabbage and other brassicas — 11 June 2008[table 1]|
|People's Republic of China||36,335,000 tonnes (35,761,000 LT; 40,052,000 ST)||[table 2]|
|India||5,283,200 tonnes (5,199,800 LT; 5,823,700 ST)|
|Russia||4,054,000 tonnes (3,990,000 LT; 4,469,000 ST)||[table 2]|
|South Korea||3,000,000 tonnes (3,000,000 LT; 3,300,000 ST)||[table 2]|
|Japan||2,390,000 tonnes (2,350,000 LT; 2,630,000 ST)||[table 2]|
|Poland||1,375,900 tonnes (1,354,200 LT; 1,516,700 ST)|
|Ukraine||1,300,000 tonnes (1,280,000 LT; 1,430,000 ST)||[table 2]|
|Indonesia||1,250,000 tonnes (1,230,000 LT; 1,380,000 ST)||[table 2]|
|United States||1,171,350 tonnes (1,152,850 LT; 1,291,190 ST)|
|Romania||1,120,000 tonnes (1,100,000 LT; 1,230,000 ST)||[table 2]|
|World||69,214,270 tonnes (68,121,140 LT; 76,295,670 ST)||[table 3]|
Sometimes young cabbages are picked early when it is tender and small, and it is eaten as "baby veggies". Those vegetables are more tender and sweet than older picked cabbages, and can be stored for a longer time.
DiseasesAmong the many destructive diseases affecting the cabbage and often other members of the cabbage family are:
- blackleg or black stem, caused by certain fungi (such as Phoma lingam); lesions in the stem near the soil surface become sunken and dark, and may girdle the stem
- black ring or black ring spot, caused by a virus; necrotic, dark and often sunken rings on the leaf surface
- black rot, caused by a bacterium (Xanthomonas campestris)
- cabbagehead, abnormal growth in rutabagas caused by larvae of a gall midge (Contarinia nasturtii) feeding in basal part of the stalks
- cabbage yellows or cabbage wilt, caused by a fungus (Fusarium oxysporum or Fusarium conglutinans); yellowing and dwarfing
- clubroot, common, caused by a protist (Plasmodiophora brassicae), formerly classified as a slime mold; swellings or distortions of the root, followed often by decline in vigor or by death
- wire stem, caused by a fungus (Pellicularia filamentosa or Rhizoctonia solani); constricted, wiry stem; similar to damping-off but attacks older seedlings
Pests(See also List of Lepidoptera that feed on Brassica).
Many insects and other pests infest cabbage plants, among them:
- cabbage worm, any of numerous insect larvae that feed on cabbages:
- imported cabbage worm, the green larva of the cabbage butterfly or cabbage white, any of several largely white butterflies (family Pieridae, type genus Pieris, garden whites); they include a small cosmopolitan form (P. rapae), called also small white; a larger Old World form (P. brassicae), called also large white; a common North American form (P. protodice), called also checkered white or southern cabbage butterfly; and the green-veined white (P. napi), occurring in Europe and North America; larvae eat the leaves, are toxic to animals that consume the infested foliage
- cabbage moth or diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) larva, cosmopolitan of European origin
- cabbage webworm (Hellula undalis), widely distributed, native to southern Europe or Asia, destructive in the U.S. Gulf states
- cabbage aphid, cabbage aphis or turnip aphid, widely distributed and destructive grayish green plant louse (Brevicoryne brassicae); lives on leaves
- cabbage curculio, small weevil (Ceutorhynchus rapae); feeds within stems and on leaves
- cabbage fly, cabbage root fly, root fly or turnip fly (Hylemya brassicae or Delia radicum, family Anthomyiidae), adult of small white cabbage maggot or root maggot that feeds in roots and stems
- cabbage-leaf miner, small fly (Phytomyza rufipes) whose maggot is injurious
- cabbage looper, pale green, white-striped measuring worm (Trichoplusia ni), larva of a moth of the family Noctuidae; feeds on leaves
- cabbage seedpod weevil (Ceutorhynchus assimilis), small, grayish black; related to the cabbage curculio but smaller; feeds on and destroys developing seeds
- cabbage snake, nematode worm of the family Mermithidae, parasitic on insect pests
- gamma moth or silver Y moth (Plusia gamma) larva; migratory European noctuid moth having a bright silvery Y-shaped mark on each fore wing
- harlequin cabbage bug (Murgantia histrionica), black stinkbug in tropical America and the warmer parts of the United States
- serpentine leaf miner, grub that is the larva of a small fly (Liriomyza brassicae); eats out slender, white, winding burrows in the leaves
- striped flea beetle (Phyllotreta striolata); has a yellow line on each elytron
- zebra caterpillar, larva of an American noctuid moth (Ceramica picta); light yellow with a broad black stripe on the back and lateral stripes crossed with white
Related Brassica varieties and speciesBesides cabbage proper, the species Brassica oleracea has many distinctive cultivars that are commonly known by other names. They include: broccoli (Italica Group); Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera Group), whose edible small green heads resemble diminutive cabbages; cauliflower (Botrytis Group), whose flower cluster is used as a vegetable; Chinese kale or Chinese broccoli (Alboglabra Group); kale or spring greens, a very hardy cabbage (Acephala group) that has curled, often finely cut leaves that do not form a dense head, and that some[who?] consider to be the original form of the cultivated cabbage; collard greens, a type of kale; and kohlrabi (Gongylodes Group), having an edible stem that becomes greatly enlarged, fleshy and turnip-shaped. Hybrids include broccolini (Italica × Alboglabra Group), broccoflower (Italica × Botrytis Group) and choumoelliera or marrow cabbage (cabbage, kohlrabi and kale).
There are two species of Chinese cabbage (lettuce cabbage, pakchoi, pechay) from Asia that somewhat resemble cabbage and are widely used as greens: Brassica chinensis, bok choy or celery cabbage, which forms a loose, chardlike head of dark green leaves, and Brassica pekinensis, or pe-tsai (peh-tsai), forming an elongated compact head of broad, light green leaves. Rape, an annual herb (Brassica napus) of European origin but known only as a cultigen, differs from the cabbage in its deeply lobed leaves, which are not hairy like those of the turnip.
Other 'cabbage' plantsA number of other non-cruciferous plants bear the name "cabbage" or are likened to it by their appearance, though many are not food plants with parts for human consumption.
- Several palms called cabbage palm or cabbage tree have a terminal bud (cabbage, palm cabbage or palmito) eaten like cabbage as a vegetable, including:
- assai palm (palmiste, royal palm, sago palm, Euterpe edulis)
- cabbage palmetto (palm cabbage, palm thatch, pond top, pond top palmetto, sabal palmetto, swamp cabbage, species Sabal palmetto), a fan palm with an edible young terminal bud called heart of palm
- Cussonia genus, an araliaceous tree
- Livistona, especially L. australis, from Australia, from whose fibrous leaves the cabbage-tree hat is plaited
- mountain palm (Roystonea oleracea), a tall West Indian palm, the source of partridgewood
- saw cabbage palm (saw palmetto, Paurotis wrightii)
- ti (Cordyline australis), a medium-sized New Zealand tree
- Other kinds of trees seen as bearing a resemblance include:
- cabbage bark (genus Andira), also called angelim or worm bark, whose bark (cabbage bark) is sometimes used in medicine as a vermifuge
- Surinam cabbage tree (Andira retusa), having bark that is used as an anthelmintic and cathartic
- black cabbage tree (Melanodendron integrifolium), with a campanulate involucre about the flower head
- cabbage gum (especially Eucalyptus pauciflora and E. virgata), probably so called from the fleshy leaves
- Still other cabbagy plants include:
- cabbage rose (also moss rose, pale rose or Provence rose, Rosa centifolia), a fragrant garden rose having full white or pink flowers, with a dwarf variety (pomponia) called pompon
- deer cabbage (Lupinus diffusus), a lupine
- dog cabbage (dog's cabbage, Cynocrambe prostrata), a fleshy southern European herb
- head lettuce (cabbage lettuce, Lactuca sativa capitata), distinguished by leaves arranged in a dense rosette, which ultimately develops into a compact head suggesting that of cabbage
- Kerguelen cabbage, a herb (Pringlea antiscorbutica, also called horseradish) in the family Brassicaceae, from the Indian Ocean island of Kerguelen
- Maori cabbage, the wild cabbage of New Zealand
- native cabbage (Scaevola koenigii), a succulent Australian shrub
- poor man's cabbage (Barbarea verna), a winter cress
- Saint-Patrick's cabbage (London pride, Saxifraga umbrosa), a hardy perennial saxifrage native to western Europe
- sea cabbage, also called sea kale, a European perennial herb (Crambe maritima) sometimes cultivated for its large, ovate, long-stalked leaves, used as a potherb (distinct from Brassica oleracea)
- skunk cabbage (fetid hellebore, meadow cabbage, polecat weed, skunkweed; stinking poke, swamp cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus or its relative Lysichiton camstschatcense) (the name is sometimes used for the pitcher plant)
- squaw cabbage (Indian lettuce, Montia perfoliata), a succulent herb; or any of various plants of the family Brassicaceae, especially of the genera Caulanthus and Streptanthus, believed to have been used as potherbs by the Indians
- water cabbage (Nymphaea odorata), a white water lily
- water lettuce (also called water cabbage, Pistia stratiotes), a common tropical floating plant forming a rosette of spongy, wedge-shaped leaves
- wild cabbage, a succulent herb (Caulanthus crassicaulis) of the family Brassicaceae that has edible foliage
- sea-otter's-cabbage (bladder kelp, sea turnip), a brown alga
Linguistic and vernacular associationsDuring World War II, "kraut" was an ethnic slur for a German soldier or civilian.
A thick-witted person may be called a cabbagehead. In Hebrew, the term "rosh kruv" (cabbagehead) implies stupidity.
In Italian, "cavolo" (cabbage) is a mildly impolite expression with a similar connotation to the English "crap."
The French use a term of endearment, "mon chou" or "mon petit chou", equivalent to "darling" but translated literally as "my little cabbage" in school French textbooks in England since the late 1950s. This is still used today, as can be seen in this extract from Shamrocks Falling by P A Matthews:
- “See there ma petite chou, now everything is worked out.”
- Patricia turned and walked back to the desk. “Gérard, why must you call me ma petite chou all the time?”
- “Ma chérie, it is an endearment. If you understood that in French…”
- She cut him off mid sentence. “I know what it means Gérard. Even with my limited French vocabulary I know that it means my small cabbage.”
- “But that is not the endearment. You do not understand…”'
In England, cabbage is a rarely used slang word for cash, especially paper money or bank notes. It is also used vulgarly for a person in a vegetative state, and by extension "cabbaging" means "lazing about". In Russian, 'капуста' (kapusta) is also a widely used slang word for cash.