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History and Information about the humble cabbage

  • There are literally hundreds of cabbage varieties from the savoy type to the ordinary round types cabbages can be grown all the year round if you select the right varieties 

A History of the cabbage

Although cabbage has an extensive history,it is difficult to trace its exact origins owing to the many varieties of leafy greens classified as "brassicas" The wild ancestor of cabbage, Brassica oleracea, originally found in Britain and continental Europe, is tolerant of salt but not encroachment by other plants and consequently inhabits rocky cliffs in cool damp coastal habitats,] retaining water and nutrients in its slightly thickened, turgid leaves. According to the triangle of U theory of the evolution and relationships between Brassica species, B. oleracea and other closely related kale vegetables (cabbages, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) represent one of three ancestral lines from which all other brassicas originated.

Cabbage was probably domesticated later in history than Near Eastern crops such as lentils and summer wheat. Because of the wide range of crops developed from the wild B. oleracea, multiple broadly contemporaneous domestications of cabbage may have occurred throughout Europe. Nonheading cabbages and kale were probably the first to be domesticated, before 1000 BC, by the Celts of central and western Europe.

Unidentified brassicas were part of the highly conservative unchanging Mesopotamian garden repertory.

It is believed that the ancient Egyptians did not cultivate cabbage] which is not native to the Nile valley, though a word shaw't in Papyrus Harris of the time of Ramesses III, has been interpreted as "cabbage". Ptolemaic Egyptians knew the cole crops as gramb, under the influence of Greek krambe, which had been a familiar plant to the Macedonian antecedents of the Ptolemies; By early Roman times Egyptian artisans and children were eating cabbage and turnips among a wide variety of other vegetables and pulses

The ancient Greeks had some varieties of cabbage, as mentioned by Theophrastus, although whether they were more closely related to today's cabbage or to one of the other Brassica crops is unknown. The headed cabbage variety was known to the Greeks as krambe and to the Romans as brassica or olus; the open, leafy variety (kale) was known in Greek as raphanos and in Latin as caulis.

Chrysippus of Cnidos wrote a treatise on cabbage, which Pliny knew, but it has not survived. The Greeks were convinced that cabbages and grapevines were inimical, and that cabbage planted too near the vine would impart its unwelcome odor to the grapes; this Mediterranean sense of antipathy survives today.

Brassica was considered by some Romans a table luxury,] although Lucullus considered it unfit for the senatorial table. The more traditionalist Cato the Elder, espousing a simple, Republican life, ate his cabbage cooked or raw and dressed with vinegar; he said it surpassed all other vegetables, and approvingly distinguished three varieties; he also gave directions for its medicinal use, which extended to the cabbage-eater's urine, in which infants might be rinsed. Pliny the Elder listed seven varieties, including Pompeii cabbage, Cumae cabbage and Sabellian cabbage. According to Pliny, the Pompeii cabbage, which could not stand cold, is "taller, and has a thick stock near the root, but grows thicker between the leaves, these being scantier and narrower, but their tenderness is a valuable quality".The Pompeii cabbage was also mentioned by Columella in De Re Rustica. Apicius gives several recipes for cauliculi, tender cabbage shoots. The Greeks and Romans claimed medicinal usages for their cabbage varieties that included relief from gout, headaches and the symptoms of poisonous mushroom ingestion. The antipathy towards the vine made it seem that eating cabbage would enable one to avoid drunkenness. Cabbage continued to figure in the materia medica of antiquity as well as at table: in the first century AD Dioscorides mentions two kinds of coleworts with medical uses, the cultivated and the wild, and his opinions continued to be paraphrased in herbals right through the 17th century.

At the end of Antiquity cabbage is mentioned in De observatione ciborum ("On the Observance of Foods") of Anthimus, a Greek doctor at the court of Theodoric the Great, and cabbage appears among vegetables directed to be cultivated in the Capitulare de villis, composed c. 771-800 that guided the governance of the royal estates of Charlemagne.

In Britain, the Anglo-Saxons cultivated cawel. When round-headed cabbages appeared in 14th-century England they were called cabaches and caboches, words drawn from Old French and applied at first to refer to the ball of unopened leaves,[38] the contemporaneous recipe that commences "Take cabbages and quarter them, and seethe them in good broth" also suggests the tightly headed cabbage.

 

Manuscript illuminations show the prominence of cabbage in the cuisine of the High Middle Ages, and cabbage seeds feature among the seed list of purchases for the use of King John II of France when captive in England in 1360, but cabbages were also a familiar staple of the poor: in the lean year of 1420 the "Bourgeois of Paris" noted that "poor people ate no bread, nothing but cabbages and turnips and such dishes, without any bread or salt". French naturalist Jean Ruel made what is considered the first explicit mention of head cabbage in his 1536 botanical treatise De Natura Stirpium, referring to it as capucos coles ("head-coles"), Sir Anthony Ashley, 1st Baronet, did not disdain to have a cabbage at the foot of his monument in Wimborne St Giles.

In Istanbul Sultan Selim III penned a tongue-in-cheek ode to cabbage: without cabbage, the halva feast was not complete. Cabbages spread from Europe into Mesopotamia and Egypt as a winter vegetable, and later followed trade routes throughout Asia and the Americas. The absence of Sanskrit or other ancient Eastern language names for cabbage suggests that it was introduced to South Asia relatively recently. In India, cabbage was one of several vegetable crops introduced by colonizing traders from Portugal, who established trade routes from the 14th to 17th centuries.[45] Carl Peter Thunberg reported that cabbage was not yet known in Japan in 1775.

Many cabbage varieties—including some still commonly grown—were introduced in Germany, France, and the Low Countries. During the 16th century, German gardeners developed the savoy cabbage. During the 17th and 18th centuries, cabbage was a food staple in such countries as Germany, England, Ireland and Russia, and pickled cabbage was frequently eaten. Sauerkraut was used by Dutch, Scandinavian and German sailors to prevent scurvy during long ship voyages.

Jacques Cartier first brought cabbage to the Americas in 1541–42, and it was probably planted by the early English colonists, despite the lack of written evidence of its existence there until the mid-17th century. By the 18th century, it was commonly planted by both colonists and native /wiki/Native_Americans_in_the_United_States">American Indians. Cabbage seeds traveled to Australia in 1788 with the First Fleet, and were planted the same year on Norfolk Island. It became a favorite vegetable of Australians by the 1830s and was frequently seen at the Sydney Markets.

There are several Guinness Book of World Records entries related to cabbage. These include the heaviest cabbage, at 57.61 kilograms (127.0 lb), heaviest red cabbage, at 19.05 kilograms (42.0 lb), longest cabbage roll, at 15.37 meters (50.4 ft), and the largest cabbage dish, at 925.4 kilograms (2,040 lb).In 2012, Scott Robb of Palmer, Alaska, broke the world record for heaviest cabbage at 62.71 kilograms (138.25 lb)

Three common cabbages: red, green, and savoy

See the difference between cabbages, such as green, Savoy, red, Napa, bok choy, and brussels sprouts, and learn what to do with them.

No matter what type you buy, look for cabbage heads that feel heavy for their size and, except for Napa cabbage, have tightly packed leaves. While you don't want bruised or beaten up vegetables, you can peel off and discard the outer leaves, so they need not be pristine.
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Green Cabbage
Green cabbage with distinctive fanlike leaves

Basic. Solid. Compact. Long-lasting.

Green cabbage is the Toyota (or Honda!) of cabbages. Use it in salads and slaws, stir-fry it, or long-cook it to bring out its essential sweet nature. Look for heads that feel heavy for their size (which can range from softball to almost basketball size), with tightly packed, moist-looking leaves. The queen of slaw, green cabbage can stand up to even the heaviest, creamiest, or spiciest of dressings. 
Savoy Cabbage
Savoy cabbage has textured, wrinkled leaves

Savoy cabbage is also known as curly cabbage. With ruffled, lacy, deeply ridged leaves, Savoy cabbages are perhaps the prettiest cabbages around. The leaves are more loosely layered and less tightly packed than green or red cabbage, although its uses are similar. It is delicious thinly sliced in salads, quickly stir-fried, or braised in butter.

Savoy cabbage is a bit more tender than other cabbages and works nicely as a fresh and crunchy wrap; try using it in place of rice paper or tortillas with your favourite fillings. 
Red Cabbage 

Red cabbage looks like green cabbage except, well, it's red. To be more specific, it's a lovely magenta. Red cabbage heads tend to be a bit smaller than green cabbages but look for similarly tightly packed, moist-looking leaves and heads that feel heavy for their size. Red cabbage is delicious thinly sliced in salads like Red Cabbage Slaw or cooked.

Note: Red cabbage turns an odd blue colour when cooked. Mitigate this effect by adding some sort of acid (vinegar or lemon juice are common choices) when cooking it.
 
Napa Cabbage
Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage

Napa cabbage is sometimes called Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage. Napa cabbage doesn't look like head cabbages; it has long, light green leaves that flower off of thick, white stalks. It looks a bit like a cross between romaine lettuce and pale Swiss chard. It has a lovely mild flavour with a peppery kick that is delicious in salads or stir-frys. You can also turn it into spicy kimchi.   

Bok Choy (and its youthful friend, baby Bok Choy) has distinct leaves growing from a central stalk. It looks a fair amount like Swiss chard but with pale green stalks and leaves. It has a mild but bright cabbage-y flavour. Bok Choy is most often used in stir-frys, but braising also brings out its sweet flavour. Baby bok choy can be cooked whole if you like, but all bok choy is perhaps at its best when the leaves are separated and cooked loose.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts are tiny cabbages and are usually sold loose, but if you find them sold on the stalk, know that they will keep for several weeks if chilled.

Trim the ends, peel off any dark green leaves from each sprout, and then you can make roasted brussels sprouts, steamed brussels sprouts, or brussels sprouts with bacon.

Cabbage is generally grown for its densely leaved heads, produced during the first year of its biennial cycle. Plants perform best when grown in well-drained soil in a location that receives full sun. Different varieties prefer different soil types, ranging from lighter sand to heavier clay, but all prefer fertile ground with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. For optimal growth, there must be adequate levels of nitrogen in the soil, especially during the early head formation stage, and sufficient phosphorus and potassium during the early stages of expansion of the outer leaves. Temperatures between 4 and 24 °C (39 and 75 °F) prompt the best growth, and extended periods of higher or lower temperatures may result in premature bolting (flowering) Flowering induced by periods of low temperatures (a process called vernalization) only occurs if the plant is past the juvenile period. The transition from a juvenile to adult state happens when the stem diameter is about 6 mm (0.24 in). Vernalization allows the plant to grow to an adequate size before flowering. In certain climates, cabbage can be planted at the beginning of the cold period and survive until a later warm period without being induced to flower, a practice that was common in the eastern US.
Green and purple cabbages

Plants are generally started in protected locations early in the growing season before being transplanted outside, although some are seeded directly into the ground from which they will be harvested.[15] Seedlings typically emerge in about 4–6 days from seeds planted 1.3 cm (0.5 in) deep at a soil temperature between 20 and 30 °C (68 and 86 °F).[58] Growers normally place plants 30 to 61 cm (12 to 24 in) apart. Closer spacing reduces the resources available to each plant (especially the amount of light) and increases the time taken to reach maturity.[59] Some varieties of cabbage have been developed for ornamental use; these are generally called "flowering cabbage". They do not produce heads and feature purple or green outer leaves surrounding an inner grouping of smaller leaves in white, red, or pink. Early varieties of cabbage take about 70 days from planting to reach maturity, while late varieties take about 120 days. Cabbages are mature when they are firm and solid to the touch. They are harvested by cutting the stalk just below the bottom leaves with a blade. The outer leaves are trimmed, and any diseased, damaged, or necrotic leaves are removed. Delays in harvest can result in the head-splitting as a result of the expansion of the inner leaves and continued stem growth. Factors that contribute to reduced head weight include growth in the compacted soils that result from no-till farming practices, drought, waterlogging, insect and disease incidence, and shading and nutrient stress caused by weeds.

 

 

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