If we were to make a list of underappreciated things in life, we’d include a refreshing drink of cold water when you’re thirsty, fuzzy warm socks in the fall, the ability to flip on the radio during a long car ride to blast out your favorite tunes—and just picked, farm-fresh cabbage.
Definitely cabbage. That’s a seriously underappreciated vegetable.
At The Chef’s Garden, ours is tender and mild, juicy and delicious, whether you use it to make sauerkraut, soups or stews, or stir fries or slaws. Plus, there’s something about this vegetable that lends itself perfectly to traditional comfort food recipes, whether that’s stuffed cabbage/cabbage rolls or corned beef and cabbage—while still being the perfect ingredient for flavorful experimentation.
What Does Cabbage Taste Like?
Hundreds of people search for that answer on Google each and every month and answers online range from bitter to bland to a strong cruciferous flavor—which tells us that they haven’t eaten the regeneratively farmed cabbage that we grow in our fields. Varieties we’re growing include:
Arrowhead cabbage: This pea green beauty is also known as “conehead cabbage” for its uniquely cone-shaped leaves. This variety has a deliciously mild flavor, remarkably sweet.
Green napa cabbage: Also mildly sweet, this variety is sometimes called the “celery cabbage” because the flavor is a delicious blend of traditional cabbage, celery, and iceberg lettuce.
Red napa cabbage: This variety is slightly sweeter than its green cousin with notes of pepper. Delightfully crisp, red cabbage is ideal for stewing, grilling, braising, stir frying, and much more.
Savoy cabbage: Milder than traditional green cabbage, this variety remains firm when cooked, which makes it perfect when used in soups and stews, casseroles and more. Savoy is the perfect choice, too, when roasting.
Red savoy cabbage: The delicious flavor of this deep purple cabbage gets even more amazing after a frost. Then, as you work your way into this cabbage head, you’ll reach incredibly tender (yet still crisp) pale green leaves.
Today’s times, Farmer Lee Jones says, “cry out for comfort food”—and cabbage fits the bill. He remembers the autumns of his childhood when his mother would make pigs in the blanket with hamburger, rice, and onion wrapped in the freshest of cabbage.
“This is a vegetable,” he adds, “that signals the changing of the seasons. It’s one that welcomes in cooler nights of September, a signal that it’s time for autumn leaves to begin to change hues.”
History of Cabbage
According to Texas A&M’s horticultural site, cabbage likely originated in Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean with Celts also using it, long ago, in western and central Europe. The Celtic military probably introduced it to people in the British Isles about 2,500 years ago. We know that, by the 1500s, savoy cabbage was being grown in England. In 1570, red cabbage was discussed.
French explorer Jacques Cartier brought cabbage to Canada on his third voyage in 1541-1542. In 1669, there is a written record of cabbage in the American colonies although it was probably in use before that. By the 1700s, Native Americans also grew and ate cabbage.
Rounded headed cabbages were the first ones used—and, in fact, they’re the only type mentioned in the 16th century. In the following century, mentions were made of flat-headed and egg-shaped varieties. In the 18th century, we first see references to pointy/conical varieties.
Farmer Lee’s Memories
As a youngster, his job was to pick up the harvested cabbages, so he’d stand in the middle of the field with four rows on his left side and four rows on his right. As the men placed harvested cabbages in the center of the field, Lee collected them and put them into bins.
“In my memory,” he says,” the days of picking cabbage were always wet. They were always cold. Now that couldn’t literally be true, but there were plenty of days when I’d take along two pairs of gloves. I’d wear one and keep the other on the manifold of our tractor to keep them warm. Steam would rise from them as they were heated up. When my hands got too cold, I’d switch to the other pair.”
Fast forwarding until today, did you know there’s a National Cabbage Day? It’s February 17 and, in 2022, that will fall on a Thursday. So, as you plan your winter dishes, consider featuring cabbage on its special day.
Here are a few to enjoy!
Cabbage with BLiS Gourmet
Paleo BBQ Salmon with Fall Harvest Cabbage Slaw
Charred Cabbage with Sauce Beurre Rouge
Arrowhead Cabbage Salad with Honey Mustard and Rye Crouton
Plus, here is a Root Vegetable Sandwich. Although the original recipe doesn’t include cabbage, Chef Jamie Simpson of the Culinary Vegetable Institute notes how versatile the recipe really is. “I can easily picture,” Jamie says, “using sweet potato, parsnip, cabbage, and celery root. Your teeth could zip right through those textures.”
Continued Comfort Food Trend
In 2020, we reported how food experts predicted a longing for comfort foods, understandable in these challenging times. These included the use of healthy substitutes in traditional comfort dishes with a demand for plant-based alternatives. In June 2020, Huffington Post published an article titled “How Cabbage Became Lockdown's Most Popular Vegetable.”
Then, in March 2021, RestaurantDive.com noted that “Comfort food isn’t going anywhere in 2021.” The two top trends? Comfort food and healthy eating. With cabbage in your dishes and menus, you can easily accomplish both.
Health Benefits of Cabbage
In the same 2020 post where we talked about comfort foods, we also delved into the health benefits of cabbage. Here, we’ll focus on one key benefit: reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to all sorts of serious health conditions, so having the ability to help lower it through healthy eating is powerful.
In one study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the group that was eating the highest amounts of cruciferous vegetable such as cabbage showed the lowest levels of inflammation.
To supercharge the health benefits of cabbage, use fermentation. This culinary technique, originally used to keep food from spoiling in the days before refrigeration, led to the creation of delicious and nutritious sauerkraut, kimchi, and many other incredible dishes from around the world.
For more information about creative uses of fermentation, here’s how the Culinary Vegetable Institute fermented honey into mead.
Regeneratively Farmed Cabbage
“All life,” Bob Jones, Jr. says, “begins in the soil and, without healthy, vibrant soil, nothing else we do matters very much. Healthy soil is at the root of all healthy plants, so everything we do at the farm is meant to regenerative the life in the soil. It’s at the very foundation of our farming practices at The Chef’s Garden.”
Independent testing has shown that crops grown at The Chef’s Garden can have 300% to 600% more minerals than USDA baselines. That happens because of how we grow them as we embrace the techniques of regenerative agriculture. We farm in harmony with Mother Nature, treating our soil as its own treasured crop. We use techniques that our grandparents and great-grandparents did when they optimized and balanced the physical, biological, and chemical health of their soil. In fact, our daily goal is to farm as well as our ancestors—who were so in tune with the Earth—did.
Why is that so important? Well, all life begins in the soil. As we focus on building up healthy soil, we can then grow healthy crops that are bursting with flavor, nutrient dense for healthy people and a healthy planet.
Regenerative farming goes beyond sustainable farming. The latter—sustainable farming—focuses on a stable ecosystem, with leaving soil as healthy as we found it. With regenerative farming, though, we aren’t satisfied with the status quo. Instead, we continue to improve our soil’s health to provide you with the most flavorful and nutritious cabbage (and other crops) possible.
We could talk about regenerative agriculture all day long (and, if you ask our families, they may say that we do exactly that!). To help, here are more links to helpful information to show you why our crops are overflowing with flavor and nutrition:
Power of Regenerative Farming: From the Planet to the Plate
Our Farming Philosophy: Regenerative Farming for Healthy Soil and Crops
2020 Food Trends: Regenerative Agriculture and Much More
Healthy Soil: A Look at How and Why We Rebuild Soil Health
Benefits of Cover Crops: Giving Back to the Land
Benefits of Cover Crops, Carbon Sequestration & Regenerative Farming
National Soil Health Day: Honor Healthy Soil with Us Today
Need more information? Just ask! Farmer Lee and Bob Jones, Jr. will be happy to discuss The Chef’s Garden difference with you.
Choose Fresh Cabbage for Your Dishes and Menus
We invite you to contact your product specialist today to talk about the fresh cabbage varieties that will work best for your needs. Thank you for letting us be your personal farmer!