slice the cabbage until you are ready to use it; slicing tears cabbage
cells and releases the enzyme that hastens the oxidation and destruction
of vitamin C.
plan to serve cooked green or red cabbage in wedges, don't cut out the
inner core that hold the leaves together.
separate the leaves for stuffing, immerse the entire head in boiling
water for a few minutes, then lift it out and let it drain until it is
cool enough to handle comfortably. The leaves should pull away easily.
If not, put the cabbage back into the hot water for a few minutes.
Happens When You Cook Cabbage
contains mustard oils (isothiocyanates) that break down into a variety
of smelly sulfur compounds (including hydrogen sulfide and ammonia) when
the cabbage is heated, a reaction that occurs more strongly in aluminum
pots. The longer you cook the cabbage, the more smelly the compounds
will be. Adding a slice of bread to the cooking water may lessen the
odor. Keeping a lid on the pot will stop the smelly molecules from
floating off into the air, but it will also accelerate the chemical
reaction that turns cooked green cabbage drab.
Chlorophyll, the pigment that makes green vegetables green, is sensitive
to acids. When you heat green cabbage, the chlorophyll in its leaves
reacts chemically with acids in the cabbage or in the cooking water to
form pheophytin, which is brown. The pheophytin gives the cooked cabbage
its olive color.
cooked green cabbage green, you have to reduce the interaction between
the chlorophyll and the acids. One way to do this is to cook the cabbage
in a large quantity of water, so the acids will be diluted, but this
increases the loss of vitamin C.* Another alternative is to leave the
lid off the pot so that the volatile acids can float off into the air,
but this allows the smelly sulfur compounds to escape too. The best way
may be to steam the cabbage very quickly in very little water so that it
keeps its vitamin C and cooks before there is time for the
chlorophyll/acid reaction to occur.
cabbage is colored with red anthocyanins, pigments that turn redder in
acids (lemon juice, vinegar) and blue purple in bases (alkaline
chemicals such as baking soda). To keep the cabbage red, make
sweet-and-sour cabbage. But be careful not to make it in an iron or
aluminum pot, since vinegar (which contains tannins) will react with
these metals to create dark pigments that discolor both the pot and the
vegetable. Glass, stainless-steel, or enameled pots do not produce this
Other Kinds of Processing Affect Cabbage
Sauerkraut is a fermented and pickled produce made by immersing cabbage
in a salt solution strong enough to kill off pathological bacteria but
allow beneficial ones to survive, breaking down proteins in the cabbage
and producing the acid that gives sauerkraut its distinctive flavor.
Sauerkraut contains more than thirty-seven times as much sodium as fresh
cabbage (661 mg sodium/100 grams canned sauerkraut with liquid) but only
one third the vitamin C and one-seventh the vitamin A.
According to USDA, if you cook three cups of cabbage in one cup of water
you will lose only 10 percent of the vitamin C; reverse the ratio to
four times as much water as cabbage and you will lose about 50 percent
of the vitamin C. Cabbage will lose as much as 25 percent of its vitamin
C if you cook it in water that is cold when you start. As it boils,
water releases oxygen that would otherwise destroy vitamin C, so you can
cut the vitamin loss dramatically simply by letting the water boil for
sixty seconds before adding the cabbage.