Ingredient of the Week: Red Cabbage

Categories: The Basics

redcabbage.jpg
What is it?

Red cabbage is exactly what it sounds like. While it isn't as exotic as a lychee or Chinese broccoli, it wasn't something I ever ate growing up in Southeast Texas, so it is exotic to me. Until later in life when I experienced some tart, sweet and savory red kraut at a German restaurant, I'd never had the urge to experiment with the stuff.

Apparently, red cabbage contains pigments called anthocyanins that possibly have cancer-prevention properties, improve brain function and aid in keeping your heart healthy. Red cabbage has 36 different types of anthocyanins, which equals a healthier cabbage than the green stuff.

The leaves are slightly sweeter than green cabbage and will need to cook longer, because red cabbage is picked at a later stage of maturity than its paler cousin.

How is it used?

Red cabbage is a popular vegetable in Germany, where it's braised with broth, vinegar and sugar to make a sweet and sour dish that goes well with schnitzel, bratwurst, spatzle and potato dumplings. It's also used raw in slaws and salads (sometimes just for the color) and often prepared with apples, pears, applesauce, onions and even spices like cinnamon because of its natural sweetness.

Weird/fun fact - if you add baking soda, the cabbage will turn a bluish color. In Bavaria, Swabia and Franken, Germany, after these ingredients are added, it's called "blue cabbage" (Blaukraut) because of its unique hue.

Where can I buy it?

Any grocery store in the city.

Recipe: Sautéed Red Cabbage: Courtesy of Food Network and the equally-loved-as-she-is-hated, Rachael Ray.



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4 comments
Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Another interesting fact: The color change is due to a change in the PH of the cabbage. Cabbage juice is actually a pretty accurate indicator of PH. I read a recipe for red cabbage kim chee, wherein the authors talk about how the cabbage color change is so predictable, that it alone can be used to determine proper fermentation/acidification of the kim chee.

rubbercow
rubbercow

I always look forward to making a big pile of blaukraut to go with schnitzel and spatzle! Delicious!!

rubbercow
rubbercow

I have only one German Cookbook and it (aptly) called The German Cookbook by Mimi Sheraton (ISBN: 0394-40138-7) and here is her recipe:

Head of red cabbage, 2 or 3 tablespoons butter, lard or minced bacon, 1 T sugar, 1 large apple cored, peeled and chopped, 1 minced onion, 4 T white wine vinegar, salt, 1-2 cups water (or stock), 1/4 cup red currant jelly.

Saute sugar in hot fat until golden, add the apple and onion, cover and braise for 3-4 mins, add shredded cabbage and toss until coated with fat, pour vinegar over the cabbage, cover and braise for about 10 mins. Sprinkle with salt and add water. Continue to braise until cabbage is tender (about an hour).

If you are into German food, I can't recommend this book enough!

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