- How to Blanch Kale for Freezing
- How to Cut Cabbage Very Finely
- How to Steam Cook Cabbage
- How to Steam Cabbage on the Stove
- How to Juice a Daikon Radish
Brief boiling, called blanching, softens crisp cabbage while improving the color and tenderness of the leaves. Cabbage requires blanching before you can freeze it because the process slows flavor and color loss. Blanching also makes the leaves easier to handle when you are making cabbage rolls or other recipes that require whole leaves. The leaves develop a brighter color and wrap more easily around the filling after a short dunk it the boiling water.
Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage head and dispose of them. Cut heads into wedges or a coarse shred for freezing, or remove the individual leaves whole for using in cabbage rolls and wraps.
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Set a bowl of ice water near the cooking area.
Add up to 1 pound of cabbage wedges or shredded cabbage to the boiling water. Boil wedges for 3 minutes and shredded cabbage for 1 ½ minutes. Use tongs to hold whole cabbage leaves and submerge them individually in the water for only 30 seconds, or just until they begin to wilt.
Remove the cabbage from the water, using a slotted spoon if necessary, and immediately submerge the cabbage in the ice water. Add more ice, if necessary, and allow the cabbage to cool completely.
Drain the cabbage and pat the leaves dry with a towel. Use immediately or transfer to a freezer-safe storage container and store in a 0-degree Fahrenheit freezer for up to 12 months.
Cabbage is one of those incredible vegetables that is featured in some of the world’s most famous cultural dishes. Polish stuffed cabbage or golabki is a delicious comfort food made with ground pork and beef and rice rolled up into cabbage leaves. Cabbage is also featured prominently in Chinese cuisine as one of their top three greens.
Cabbage is right up there when it comes to being one of the healthiest foods in the universe. There are so many varieties of this cruciferous veggie, and they all contain amazing nutrients for the body. For example, a head of cabbage is packed with good stuff inside, including vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and K and full of potassium and fiber. In addition, cabbage also offers benefits in protein and niacin, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, iron, pantothenic acid, choline and magnesium.
Buying cabbage in bulk when there’s a sale is smart shopping, but how do you keep it from wilting? Is there a way to stretch the shelf-life?
We offer wonderful cabbage tips here and everything you need to know.
Can you freeze (shredded) cabbage?
Freezing shredded cabbage is another simple option, and you can achieve it with or without blanching. Many chefs use boilable bags for this method. For example, fill your shredded cabbage into boiling bags, press out the air, and seal them. Pop the bags into boiling water for about 1 1/2 minutes for blanching. Cool the bags in ice water, pat dry and freeze.
If you’re lazy, and sometimes we all are, shredded cabbage can put in boilable bags without blanching. Just place the bags in the freezer.
Can you freeze raw cabbage without blanching it?
Yes, you can freeze raw cabbage without blanching it if you follow some key steps. First, when buying a head of cabbage at the grocery store, choose those with denseness and green leaves. Don’t purchase any cabbage with yellow leaves. You want as fresh as you can get.
Next, wash the cabbage head and remove any old outer leaves. In this process, do not remove the core as you would when preparing it for eating. The core will help preserve the cabbage during the freezing process, according to food experts. Cut your cabbage into sections for storing. You can slice wedges if you choose, one of the more popular shapes used in cooking. Or you could separate in quarters or even by leaves.
Your next step is to quick-freeze the cabbage, and it’s not a difficult technique. All you have to do is arrange your cabbage pieces on a baking sheet, and place it in the freezer. It might take up to 12 hours to have the cabbage frozen solid. After that, place the cabbage pieces into a large freezer bag, seal it, and store it in the freezer for a later time. Your cabbage will be perfect for adding to soups, casseroles, etc.
Can cabbage be frozen after it is cooked?
Yes, cabbage can be frozen after it is cooked. There is nothing wrong with enjoying these tasty left-overs in the future. Let’s say you have left-over cabbage rolls; just place them in a plastic air-tight container, or lay them flat in a large freezer bag, and place them in the freezer. They will be delicious the next time you thaw them and re-heat them.
If you have cooked cabbage that is alone without any other foods or sauces, make sure to dry the cabbage on paper towels first. Then place the cabbage on a cookie sheet to sit in the freezer for about 20 minutes to harden. After that, store your cabbage in a large freezer bag for another time.
Can you freeze cabbage soup?
Yes, you can freeze cabbage soup without any problem. It’s so easy; just remember to cool it down, and then find a large air-tight plastic container with a reliable lid. Then pour your cabbage soup in, seal it, and place it in the freezer.
How long does frozen cabbage last?
Frozen cabbage lasts up to six months, according to food experts. So, enjoy its optimum flavor within that time frame. As far as frozen cabbage soup, many chefs say that this type of meal is best consumed within 2 months time.
Cabbages, like onions, are made of tightly wound layers. Leaves of cabbage want and need to be softened so that they are pliable enough to be pulled off of the head and rolled up with stuffing.
Here’s the simple blanching process:
Pierce the core of your fresh cabbage, tough outer leaves removed, with a two-pronged fork. Think fondue.
Get a big pot. Fill the pot up half way with water. Bring the water to a boil. Salt the water.
Place a colander over a sheet pan next to the stove.
Place the head of cabbage in the water with the fork and turn it all around to blanch the outer leaves. As the cabbage softens (a minute or two), lift the head from the water. Let the water run out of it. Use a paring knife to cut away the outer leaves over the colander, leaving them in the colander to drain.
Place the cabbage back into the boiling water and repeat, cutting off all of the layers of leaves until you’ve reached the core of the cabbage where the leaves are too small and curly to use.
There will be about 20 leaves, some of them technicolor green, others yellow. All good.
Additional note: During this process, don’t drop your beautiful but demonic camera on the kitchen floor, watching it slam against the dishwasher as it goes down, or else the camera will go dark and you’ll have to stop making cabbage rolls and slam your own head against the dishwasher in disbelief, then drive all the way to Traverse City the next morning to either get it fixed (if you’re lucky) or buy a new one (if you’re not).
Stretch your cabbage with these simple storage tips.
Cabbage is beloved for its versatility and affordability. It’s dirt cheap, and this accessibility has made it an integral ingredient in cuisines from all over the world. You can use it for everything from cabbage rolls to coleslaw to stir fry and more.
But while cabbage is a hero of the produce aisle, it’s not indestructible. This leafy green is bound to go bad sometime, and it’s not always easy to tell when it has. The good news is, cabbage has a relatively long shelf life in comparison to other fruits and vegetables. The better news is, you can take steps to extend that shelf life even further.
Here’s how long cabbage will last when stored properly, and how you can preserve it for future use.
How to Choose Cabbage
Making your cabbage last starts in the grocery store (or the garden). Cabbage comes in a few different varieties, including red or purple cabbage, green cabbage, Napa cabbage, and Savoy cabbage. Green cabbage is by far the most popular, and it’s the kind you’re probably used to seeing in the produce aisle (refer to the picture above).
But regardless of type, cabbage is best when it is heavy for its size and firm to the touch, with leaves that are tightly attached to the head. The tighter the leaves are attached, the less room there is for air to get in the head. You’ll also want to avoid cabbage with any signs of bruising, blemishes, wilting, or discoloration, as these can all be signs of aging.
How to Store a Head of Cabbage
Cabbage is best stored whole and unrinsed until you’re ready to use it. Cutting into it will cause it to lose vitamin C, which will lead to faster spoilage. To store a head of cabbage, place it in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. A head of cabbage will last up two months when stored this way.
How to Store a Partial Head of Cabbage
If you find yourself left with a partial head of cabbage, think twice before you toss it. While it won’t last as long as a whole head, a partial head can still last up to three days after use. To store, tightly wrap the remaining cabbage in plastic wrap and refrigerate in the crisper drawer. Refer to the best-by date for pre-bagged, shredded cabbage.
How to Freeze and Ferment Cabbage
Although cabbage has a relatively long shelf life, you can still extend that life even further with these two basic preservation methods: freezing and fermenting.
How to Freeze Cabbage
To freeze cabbage, you’ll need to blanch and shock it first. This way it will keep its signature color and crunch. Always start by washing the cabbage. Then, cut it into wedges and blanch the wedges in boiling water for about 90 seconds.
Immediately shock the wedges in an ice bath and then dry them off. Lay the wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet and flash freeze before transferring to a freezer safe bag. Freeze for up to nine months. To thaw, leave them in the fridge overnight.
How to Ferment Cabbage
Sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, is a great topping for hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, and more. And making it at home using leftover cabbage is easier than you think. Here’s how to make sauerkraut based on this Easy Homemade Sauerkraut recipe from Allrecipes Community Member Ellie:
- Mix five pounds of thinly sliced cabbage, 1 thinly sliced onion, 3 tablespoons of sea salt, and three cloves of minced garlic in a bowl.
- Pack the mixture into a food-grade plastic bucket ($24, Amazon). You’ll notice the cabbage will start to make its own brine as the salt draws out the water.
- Fill a large, plastic bag with water and place it on top of the mixture. This will keep the cabbage from being exposed to air.
- Allow your cabbage to ferment in a cool, dry place for anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on how tangy you like your sauerkraut. The temperature of the room should not go above 70 degrees F.
- Once your mixture has fermented, keep it refrigerated in an airtight container for up to six months.
Refer to our guide on canning to learn how to can your sauerkraut for even longer use.
How to Tell if Cabbage Is Spoiled
This is one of the rare instances where a sniff test is helpful. Cabbage with an off smell should be discarded immediately. You’ll also be able to tell when cabbage has spoiled if the leaves have become soft and discolored. It’s best to refer to the old adage: when in doubt, throw it out.
Cabbage isn’t just for coleslaw. It’s the cool versatile comeback veg—equally as great for low-cal tortilla-less burritos(!!) as it is on its own. How do you cook it? There’s no right way. You can:
- Blanch it: This is the first step when you want to use the cabbage as a low-carb wrap. Boiling it very quickly cooks it just enough so that the cabbage is just pliable.
- Boil it: Think corned beef and cabbage or cabbage soup. In this cooking method, you’ll use the crunch almost completely.
- Roast it: This one is our go-to. Baking the cabbage at a high heat (425°) caramelizes the outsides of the cabbage. If you’re feeling fancy, wrap cabbage wedges in bacon for a rockstar side.
- Sauté it: Quick and easy, this is one of the fastest ways to cook cabbage. Pro tip: Cook the cabbage in bacon fat!
Follow our cabbage commandments below, and the unassuming green ball will be in your weekly rotation soon enough.
- Buy it colorful: There are four major varieties: Napa, savoy, green, and red, all of which are economical and nutritious (yay fiber!). When shopping, go for the brightest or richest in color, and pick one that feels heavy for its size. The leaves should also feel like they’re packed tight!
- Clean it up: First, you’ll want to discard the tough outer leaves (similar to how you clean up brussels sprouts). Then rinse the inside leaves.
- Get rid of that core: It’s super tough and annoying AF to eat. It’s also hard to just cut out from the whole head. Instead, cut the cabbage into quarters, then carve out thick end piece of each with a chef’s knife.
From there you’re ready to blanch (to make Mongolian Meatball Cabbage Cups), boil, sauté (for Egg Roll Bowls), or roast.
Have you tried these recipes? Let us know how it went in the comment section below!
Spend More Time Stuffing Than Separating
The Spruce Eats / Brianna Gilmartin
Stuffed cabbage rolls exist in almost every cuisine, but are especially prevalent in Central and Eastern Europe. No matter the origin of your recipe, to make stuffed cabbage rolls you need to soften and separate the cabbage leaves leaves first, which are very firm and tightly bound to the head. This usually requires a separate step, adding time and effort that you may not have budgeted for. Luckily, there are some easy methods for removing the leaves of a head of cabbage that will save you time and aggravation.
The traditional technique for removing cabbage leaves is blanching the whole head of cabbage, but there are two easier and safer ways to do it, including freezing and microwaving. Each method has its pros and cons, so once you learn the processes you can decide for yourself what will work for you.
Traditional Blanching Method
One of the most tedious aspects of making cabbage rolls is blanching the cabbage head in a pot of boiling salted water.
- First, you need to have a pot large enough to accommodate the size of the head of cabbage and fill halfway with water (since the cabbage head will displace the water). Test the amount of water needed by placing the cabbage head in it before you heat the water; you need enough water to cover the head but still leave an inch or two of free space at the top of the pot. Otherwise, you could end up with boiling water overflowing, or not have enough to cover the cabbage.
- Next, you need to stab the core of the cabbage with a large serving fork so you can safely move it in and out of the pot, which you will do several times. It takes a minute or two for the outer leaves to soften, but the inner leaves will take longer.
- Once the outer leaves have become soft, remove the head from the water and trim off these leaves and set aside; return the head to the boiling water to soften the next layer. You need to repeat this until all layers of leaves have softened and you reach the core.
If the whole idea of removing and replacing a large head of cabbage into and out of hot, boiling water doesn’t appeal to you, there is a much easier method. With the help of your freezer, you can put the boiling pot away and have rollable cabbage leaves as soon as you defrost the frozen head.
- The first step is to remove the tough outer leaves of the cabbage; then rinse and core the cabbage.
- Pat it dry and place the head in a zip-top plastic bag and freeze. (If you have more than one head of cabbage, place each in a separate zip-top bag.)
- When ready to use, defrost the cabbage and the leaves will peel off easily. This is due to the fact that cabbage holds water, so when it is frozen and then thawed, it releases the water to make the leaves wilt.
Freezing is a far safer method than blanching. You won’t be placing a head of cabbage in a boiling pot of water and removing it every minute or two, which will result in hot water splashes. It also means you can do the entire leaf removal at one time and not in stages.
A disadvantage of this method is that you will need to plan ahead to freeze the cabbage and then allow time to defrost it. It will take a few hours for the head to freeze, which is needed to soften the leaves, and then you will need another couple of hours of defrosting time. You can try to speed up the defrost time using your microwave on defrost setting.
We may just think of the microwave as a quick-cooking method or to simply heat up food. But when food is placed in the microwave with a bit of water, this cooking appliance turns in to a steamer. So, in just 20 minutes or so, you can have a cabbage ready to roll.
- All you need to do is place the head of cabbage core-side down in a microwave-safe dish. Add 1/2 cup of water, cover, and cook for 10 minutes on the high setting.
- Then, using a sturdy fork or tongs, turn the cabbage head so the core is facing up; microwave on the high setting for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from the microwave and allow the head to cool until it is safe to handle.
Depending on the strength of your microwave, something as dense as a head of cabbage may not cook evenly and you might discover some of the leaves aren’t cooking as quickly as others. This will require you to remove a few leaves to test for doneness and then put the head in the microwave for additional cooking time.
Blanching is a must for most vegetables to be frozen. It slows or stops the enzyme action which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture.
The blanching time is very important and varies with the vegetable and size.
- Underblanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching.
- Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.
- Wash, drain, sort, trim and cut vegetables.
- Use 1 gallon water per pound of prepared vegetables or 2 gallons water per pound leafy greens.
- Put vegetables into blancher (wire basket, coarse mesh bag or perforated metal strainer) and lower into boiling water.
- Or steam blanch: boil 1-2 inches of water in a pot, bring to boil and then put a single layer of vegetables in basket.
- Cover. Start counting blanching time as soon as water returns to a boil.
- Or if steam blanching, start counting immediately.
- Keep heat high for the time given in the directions.
- Cool immediately in ice water or cold water (60 degrees F or below) for the same time used in blanching (except for corn-on-the-cob for which cooling time is twice the time of blanching). Stir vegetables several times during cooling.
- Drain vegetables thoroughly.
- Pack the vegetables either by dry-pack or tray-pack.
- Dry-pack: Pack vegetable tightly into containers or freezer bags. Press out air and seal tightly.
- Tray-pack: Put a single layer of the vegetable on a shallow pan and put the pan into the freezer. As soon as the vegetable is frozen, put them into a freezer bag or container. Press out air and seal tightly.
- Frozen vegetables will maintain high quality for 8 to 12 months at zero degrees F or lower.
Vegetable blanching times (water blanching)
|Vegetable||Blanching In boiling water (minutes)||Blanching in steam (minutes)|
|Beans – snap, green or wax||3||5|
|Beans – lima, butter or pinto||Small||2||3|
|Beans – lima, butter or pinto||Medium||3||5|
|Beans – lima, butter or pinto||Large||4||6|
|Broccoli – flowerets||1 1/2 inches across||3||5|
|Brussels sprouts||Small heads||3||5|
|Brussels sprouts||Medium heads||4||6|
|Brussels sprouts||Large heads||5||7|
|Cabbage or Chinese cabbage||Shredded||1 1/2||2 1/2|
|Carrots||Diced, sliced or strips||2||3|
|Cauliflower – flowerets||1 inch||3||5|
|Corn – corn-on-the-cob||Small ears (cooling time is twice the time of blanching)||7||10|
|Corn – corn-on-the-cob||Medium ears (cooling time is twice the time of blanching)||9||13|
|Corn – corn-on-the-cob||Large ears (cooling time is twice the time of blanching)||11||16|
|Corn – whole kernel or cream style||Ears blanched before cutting corn from cob. (cooling time is twice the time of blanching)||4||6|
|Greens – collards||3||5|
|Greens – all other||2||3|
|Mushrooms||Whole (pretreat soak 5 min. in anti-darkening solution: 1 tsp. of lemon juice or 1 ½ tsp. of citric acid to a pint of water.)||–||9|
|Mushrooms||Buttons or quarters (pretreat soak 5 min. in anti-darkening solution: 1 tsp. of lemon juice or 1 ½ tsp. of citric acid to a pint of water.)||–||9|
|Mushrooms||Slices (pretreat soak 5 min. in anti-darkening solution: 1 tsp. of lemon juice or 1 ½ tsp. of citric acid to a pint of water.)||–||5|
|Onions||(blanch until center heated)||3-7||–|
|Peas – edible pod||2-3||4-5|
|Peas – green||1 1/2 – 2 1/2||3-5|
|Peppers – sweet||Halves||3||5|
|Peppers – sweet||Strips or rings||2||3|
|Potatoes – Irish (new)||3-5||5-8|
|Soybeans – green||5||–|
|Squash – summer||3||5|
|Turnips||1/2 inch cubes||3||5|
Fully cook Beets, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash prior to freezing. Add tomatoes to boiling water for 30-60 seconds, cool and remove skin.
When you think of dehydrating vegetables of any kind, learning to dehydrate cabbage is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. It sure wasn’t for me. As an outdoor guide who provides meals to my clients, I need to plan and prepare a wide variety of offerings, especially when I’m guiding a multi-day climbing, backpacking, or white water rafting trip. One of my main concerns is the weight of the food that I’m packing, along with the rest of the gear, so years ago I quickly learned the value of dehydrating certain foods. To this day, I enjoy having a variety of dried vegetables, berries and fruits on hand to cook with and eat, cabbage being one of my favorites.
Why Dehydrate Cabbage?
Cabbage is one of the unsung heroes of the vegetable world. Part of the dark leafy greens group, it’s rich in vitamins A, K and C, not to mention folate, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and certain trace minerals. A serving has only about 22 calories, while providing 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein.
Did you know that per serving size (one cup), cabbage provides over 50 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C our bodies should get – even more than oranges? Or that one serving of cabbage provides 85 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin K? I had no idea. I just know I love cabbage, especially in soups.
Types of Cabbages
I’ve never met a cabbage I didn’t like, and there are plenty to choose from when adding to your stores of dehydrated vegetables:
- Green – The one most familiar to Americans, especially if you like cole slaw, salads, stir fry or cabbage soup.
- Savoy – Considered the “prettiest” cabbage, it’s often used in salads, especially with baby greens.
- White – Also known as a Dutch cabbage, it’s very similar to the green cabbage in texture and density.
- Red – Great, thin sliced in salads or used in a red cabbage slaw.
- Napa (Chinese cabbage) – Used to make Korean Kimchi.
- Bok Choy – Looks a lot more like Swiss chard. A favorite in stir frys. I like the leafy part in my salads.
- Brussels Sprouts – Looks like a “mini” green cabbage. I’ve called them hamster cabbages since I was a kid; my personal favorite, especially roasted!
As you can see, there is a great variety to choose from when deciding which cabbage to dehydrate.
Prepping this great vegetable for dehydrating is fairly simple:
- Remove the outer leaves from each head of cabbage.
- Stem and core the larger cabbage varieties. Those parts don’t dehydrate or reconstitute that well.
- Clean and wash, then let stand or pat dry.
- Cut or process the head into quarters, and then into thin strips approximately 1/8” wide. Length can vary with no problem.
- Remember, there is no need to blanch the cabbage prior to dehydrating.
- Arrange the the slices onto your dehydrator trays. They can nestle close together, even overlap just a touch.
- Turn on your dehydrator to the recommended temperature. Usually between 125 degrees and 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dry between 8 – 11 hours depending on the thickness of the cabbage leaves. Don’t forget to rotate your dehydrator trays for even drying.
- After your cabbage pieces are fully dry, I suggest letting the cabbage stand at room temp for a night before packaging them for storage.
Storing dehydrated cabbage
There are a wide variety of choices as far as storage containers. For me, it depends on what my goals are. If it is long term storage, then I use everything from canning jars to mylar bags. I make sure to add some type of oxygen absorbers in each container. I don’t suggest using plastic containers of any kind. I have had leakage problems no matter how carefully I store and stack them.
If the dehydrated cabbage is for more immediate consumption, such as on an outdoor adventure of some kind like backpacking, biking, rafting or kayaking, then zip-loc bags will work just fine.
There are so many great ways to include and use dehydrated vegetables, including cabbage, in your meal planning and cooking. It rehydrates quickly, and if your recipe contains plenty of moisture already, there’s no need to rehydrate before adding to your dish. Whether you are crafting a casserole, or simmering a stew or soup, consider adding some flavor, texture, color and nutrition to your next dish by adding some dehydrated cabbage!