Cabbage is one of those tricky vegetables. It looks a little like a head of iceberg lettuce, only larger and with leaves that feel slightly waxy. Most people know how to tackle a head of iceberg lettuce, cutting it up expertly to put on their salads, tacos, sandwiches, and more. What happens when it comes to cabbage?
They, along with you, tend to look at that head of cabbage and wonder just how to begin preparing it for a meal. Well, wonder no more, because here's everything you need to know about how to cut cabbage.
What You Need To Know About Cabbage
Cabbage might look similar to lettuce, but it's closely related to many other vegetables, including broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. A head of cabbage is fairly large, and it comes in a number of different varieties, each of which works in several popular recipes. The most common types of cabbage are:
- Dutch or White Cabbage – This type is often smaller than the other varieties. It has very smooth leaves that range from yellowish green to darker green as you go from the outside of the head to the inside.
- Green Cabbage – The most common varietal, green cabbage is available in, you guessed it, several shades of green. You can find this kind at most grocery stores, and it works in several different recipes.
- Savoy Cabbage – Popular due to its very mild flavor, savoy cabbage has leaves that are curly or crimped. It also is very tender, particularly when cooked, making it a great option for recipes where you don't want it to overpower the other ingredients.
- Red Cabbage – Despite being called "red" cabbage, this type appears to be more purple in color. You see this type of cabbage in coleslaw and similar recipes, and it's great for pickling.
- Spring Greens – Looking for a type of cabbage that you can slice thin and steam before you eat it? You want spring greens. This varietal is characterized by its loose leaves.
The type of cabbage you choose depends widely on the recipe you're making. However, each is sliced the same way when beginning the preparation process.
Popular Cabbage Recipes
Cabbage is a staple of several Eastern European and Asian cuisines. It appears on tables in South Korea in the form of kimchi, a pickled Chinese cabbage. Cabbage and bean curds make an appearance in Chinese cuisine. Stuffed cabbage, sauerkraut, and boiled cabbage are common in Polish cuisine, and the vegetable is one of the many filling options for the tasty dumplings known as pierogi.
In addition, cabbage is included in salads and coleslaw, as well as the British dish bubbles and squeak. It's often included in Indian dishes and appears in spicy salads in Ethiopian cuisine.
With so many different options, it's no wonder that cabbage is so popular. All that you need to know is how to properly prepare it for whichever dish you plan on making.
How To Slice a Head of Cabbage
Cabbage can be tricky to slice because the inner core (which needs to be removed, as it isn't edible) is very dense and hard to cut through. Some recipes, such as stuffed cabbage or golabki need to use whole cabbage leaves, so the head needs to be properly cored in order to prepare the meal.
Other recipes only use parts of the cabbage, making preparation easier. Here's how you cut a cabbage, step by step.
1. Remove the Outer Leaves
Often, grocery stores sell the heads of cabbage with their outer leaves attached. These leaves tend to be tougher and more fibrous than the rest of the cabbage, so they need to be removed. While you can use them in soups and stews, in many cases, they are just composted or otherwise discarded. Just pull these leaves off of the head.
2. Slice the Cabbage in Half
After washing the head of cabbage and drying it thoroughly, place it upside down on a cutting board. Locate where the stem of the cabbage emerges from the bottom of the head, and then using a sharp knife, cut it straight through the stem, slicing the head in half.
3. Cut The Cabbage into Smaller Sections
Take the two halves of the cabbage head and slice each of them evenly in half. This leaves you with four quarters of the cabbage. You can now easily cut the stem away from each piece. Discard the stem.
From here, further slice the cabbage as needed. You can shred it on a mandolin for coleslaw or sauerkraut or cut it into slices for salads and other recipes.
Preparing a Head of Cabbage
After your cabbage has been properly sliced or shredded, depending on whichever version of it your recipe calls for, it's time to prepare the vegetable. Cabbage can be shredded and mixed with carrot shreds and other vegetables for coleslaw, or it can be sliced and placed on a sandwich.
In general, the recipe will instruct you on the preparation process. You might find that it needs to be steamed or braised, or even boiled for a few minutes before you wrap it around a mixture of seasoned ground beef, rice, and tomato sauce (also known as stuffed cabbage).
Since there are so many different possibilities when it comes to adding cabbage to your meals, the methods of preparation are seemingly endless as well. All that matters is the fact that you end up with a healthy, tasty meal on your plate that includes cabbage.