Red Cabbage

By Katrin Koelle
Updated on 27. Oct. 2020

The abundant plant dyes in red cabbage provide its characteristic jewel-tone hue and a slew of important nutrients as well. Read up on all you need to know about this popular, delicious and healthy vegetable.

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Red cabbage...

  • ...is rich in vitamins and minerals.
    Whatever the body needs in minerals, red cabbage has just about everything. Selenium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron are all contained in red cabbage.
  • ...helps protect the cells.
    Red cabbage contains large quantities of flavonoids and phenols, substances that have been proven to protect our cells from free radical damage.. Above all, red cabbage contains large quantities of the natural coloring anthocyanin, which can help prevent the development of cancer and even reverse cell damage that has already occurred.
  • ...is heart-healthy.
    100 grams of red cabbage covers about a third of your daily requirement of vitamin K. This vitamin helps make the blood thinner, improving circulation to the heart and helping prevent blood clots.
  • ...is good for dieters.
    Red cabbage is low in calories and fat but high in dietary fiber, which will keep you full for a long time.
  • ...stimulates digestion.
    Red cabbage’s abundant supply of satiating fiber helps stimulate digestion and improve the health of gut bacteria.
  • ...is most nutritious when consumed raw.
    Red cabbage loses its nutrients, especially vitamin C, the longer it’s cooked. Therefore it’s best eaten raw or cooked only slightly.

What You Should Know About Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is one of the most popular and common types of cabbage in the U.S., known for its sweet flavor and slew of health benefits.

Origins

Red cabbage originates in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor.

Season

You can buy fresh red cabbage all year round. Early varieties are harvested from June onwards, while the main growing season for red cabbage falls in autumn. From September to November the so-called "permanent cabbage" is harvested, stored and available into the summer. 

Flavor

Red cabbage has a mild, slightly sweet flavor.

Our Favorite Red Cabbage Recipes

Find all our recipes with red cabbage here.

How Healthy is Red Cabbage?

Just 200 grams of red cabbage packs a big nutritional punch: it cover your full daily requirement of vitamin C requirement and 400 percent of your daily vitamin K requirement, plus plenty of selenium, magnesium, potassium and fiber.

Red cabbage's high content of secondary plant substances gives red cabbage it its characteristic red color and lots of health benefits: so-called radical scavengers such as bioflavonoids, chlorophyll, indole and phenols and the natural coloring agent anthocyanin have a proven cell-protecting effect and studies show might help prevent both the development of cancer and delay the aging process.

With its particularly firm cell structure, red cabbage is not always well tolerated by people with a sensitive stomach, as it can lead to flatulence. The unpleasant intestinal gases are caused by fiber contained in the vegetables, which are difficult to digest by the human intestine.

If you are sensitive to red cabbage, try putting it in the freezer for 24 hours before eating, or blanching slightly before consuming. Cooking red cabbage with spices such as caraway, ginger or fennel, these also make it more digestible.

RED CABBAGE NUTRITIONAL INFO (100 g)  
Calories 21
Protein 1.5 g
Grease 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 3.2 g
Fibres 2.5 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Purchasing

A red cabbage head can weigh between 500 grams and a good 4 pounds. Light-colored coating on the outer leaves is not a sign of poor quality, but typical of red cabbage. However, the leaves should be nice and firm. Red cabbage is often sold without these outer leaves, in which case a gentle pressure test will help: if the vegetable feels firm, it should be fresh.

Storage

Fresh red cabbage can be kept in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for up to three weeks without any problems. Even cut heads stay fresh for weeks if they are covered with cling film. However red cabbage loses its valuable vitamin C content relatively quickly, so its not advised to store red cabbage for long. Do not store red cabbage together with apples or tomatoes, because both contain a gas called ethylene, which will make the cabbage wilt more quickly.

Preparation

First remove the thick outer leaves and any leaves that are no longer quite fresh. Then halve or quarter the red cabbage, rinse briefly, drain and cut out the thick stalk and the thick leaf veins with a heavy knife. Now the red cabbage can be cut into strips - very thin for salads, a little thicker for cooking. Of course, slicing is particularly quick and easy with a slicing machine or food processor!

Red cabbage retains its beautiful color, taste and nutritional content best when cooked as briefly as possible.

What to Make With Red Cabbage

Whether paired with onions, apples, pineapples, chestnuts or, red cabbage is the classic accompaniment to autumn and winter roasts such as duck, goose and pork. However red cabbage is more than just a delicious meat side dish. It's also a beautiful base for vegetarian cuisine, in crisp salads, gratins, or as a star of a vegetarian stew or side dish.

Combining red cabbage with ingredients such as apples, chestnuts or prunes will enhance its sweet flavor profile. However red cabbage also tastes delicious paired with acidic ingredients, such as oranges, lemon or vinegars.

The high nutritional content of cabbage quickly begins to deplete as soon as it's cooked, so try eating red cabbage raw as much as you can. Raw red cabbage makes for a delicious, crunchy base of slaws and salads. 

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