Vegetable of the Month: Cabbage

pfm-market-logoBy Kathleen Yetman

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) is a leafy vegetable grown for its heads of tightly-layered leaves. Modern-day cabbage varieties evolved from the wild cabbage of Europe thousands of years ago. Cabbage is closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and mustard greens, which are also cultivars of Brassica oleracea.

In Yavapai County, cabbages are planted in the spring through early winter for a nearly continual year-round harvest. Depending on the variety, a mature head of cabbage can take anywhere from 70 to 120 days from seed planting. Cabbage heads can be white in color or anywhere on the spectrums of green and purple. The leaves of different varieties are generally placed in one of three categories based on their texture: crinkled-leaf, loose-head savoy and smooth-leaf firm-head. What most people are used to seeing in stores is the light green or purple smooth-leaf cabbage. Napa cabbage originated in China in the 15th century and is widely used in Asian cuisine. It grows into an oblong shape and features crinkly light green leaves with white veins. The texture of the leaves gives Napa cabbage a fluffy effect, making it a great addition to salads.

Photo by Kathleen Yetman.

In the United States, the most common cabbage dish is coleslaw. Cabbage is a versatile vegetable, featured in cuisines around the world and can be prepared in numerous ways. Cabbage is one of the most popular vegetables to ferment; both kimchi and sauerkraut feature cabbage as the main ingredient, which is chopped and immersed in a salty brine until it achieves the desired tanginess. Cabbage is a good addition to soups, stir-fries and salads and makes excellent egg or spring rolls. Cabbage is always a great topping for tacos.

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamins K, C, and B6 and a good source of manganese and fiber. Red or purple varieties provide additional nutrients that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

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The Prescott Winter Market is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through April 29 at the Yavapai Regional Medical Center Pendleton Center parking lot, 930 Division St. The Prescott Valley Market is 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays through April 25 at the Harkins Theatres parking lot, at Glassford Hill Road and Park Avenue.

Kathleen Yetman is the managing director of the Prescott Farmers Market and a native of Prescott.

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