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Cabbage – for sauerkraut and more

For some people, especially in central Europe, white cabbage = sauerkraut. But the classic winter vegetable can be eaten in far more ways than this. Sliced very, very finely, raw cabbage tastes delicious in a salad with apples, bacon and a mustardy vinaigrette dressing. Add it to stir fries cooked in your wok, to stews, to fill a wrap or gently braised as a side dish for fish or meat.

Or make cabbage roulades, by choosing the biggest leaves, blanching them briefly in boiling salted water and filling them with spicy rice, finely diced vegetables and feta cheese. Braise them briefly in oil or an oil and butter and then cook them slowly with the lid on. Cabbage soup with a hint of chilli is warming on a cold day. Spices like caraway seeds, aniseed or fennel make cabbage more digestible for people with sensitive stomachs.

Health benefits

White cabbage has a tremendous amount to offer in the way of health benefits – from roughage to vitamin C, provitamin A and B vitamins, plus minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron and iodine. The cabbage has to be cooked in order for vitamin C to be created from its precursor ascorbigen. Health benefits ascribed to cabbage in any form, but especially as sauerkraut, are its anti-cancer effects (especially for stomach and intestinal cancers) and strengthening the immune system, it also helps to reduce blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Origin, appearance and cooking with cabbage

White cabbage (Brassica olaracea) is a member of the cruciferous family and is thought to come from around the Mediterranean. The leaves are pale green and slightly waxy, so that they have a slight sheen. You don’t need to wash cabbage, simply remove the outer leaves, which keep the inside perfectly clean. If you’re eating the whole cabbage, quarter it and cut out the hard stalk. To blanch cabbage, cut it into thin strips and drop into boiling salted water for a minute or two.

Buying, quality and storage

You can buy white cabbage all year round and most of it is grown fairly locally. Look for heads that are tightly closed, crisp and fresh-looking with no dark patches. A whole white cabbage will keep for around two weeks in a cool, dry place. If you cut away a section of the cabbage to cook, cover the rest with film and store in the fridge.

Source: www.aid.de