Cabbage is a member of Brassica oleracea, plus other variants such as Bok Choi (Brassica junica) and some Chinese cabbages (Brassica rapa). Cabbage is a leafy-green biennial grown as an annual vegetable for its dense-leaved heads. It is closely related to other cole crops such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts. Cabbage heads generally range from 1 to 8 lbs, and can be green, red/purple or white.
There are 5 main cultivars of cabbage, each including many varieties:
1. Green: Light to dark green with slightly pointed heads, and the most common.
2. Savoy: Characterized by crimped or curly leaves, mild flavor and tender texture.
3. Red: Smooth red leaves, often used for pickling or stewing.
4. White: Smooth, pale green leaves (also called Dutch Cabbage).
5. Spring Greens: Loose-headed, commonly sliced and steamed.
Cabbage produces densely-leaved heads when grown in well-drained soil in a location that receives full sun. Different varieties prefer different soil types, but all prefer fertile ground with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Temperatures between 40 to 75 °F prompt the best growth, and extended periods of higher or lower temperatures may result in premature bolting (flowering). Plants are generally started in protected locations early in the growing season before being transplanted outside. Cabbage is prone to several nutrient deficiencies, as well as multiple pests, bacteria, and fungal diseases.
Cabbages are prepared in many different ways for eating, ranging from eating it raw or with simple steaming to pickling, stewing, sauteeing or braising. Pickling (creating Sauerkraut) is one of the most popular ways of preserving cabbage while Coleslaw is the most popular fresh use. Cabbage is a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber.