Storage cabbage comparison

First, I apologize that I don’t know the exact varieties of these cabbages. I bought them at the market and didn’t/couldn’t find out the specific varieties. It’s obvious they have different keeping qualities, though. These were kept in the garage until it got below freezing, then moved to the breezeway (~50 degrees).

Cabbage comparison

The one on the left is still fresh and cabbage-y; the one on the right is quite papery. I think if I peel back the outer leaves, there will still be decent cabbage in there, but it’s definitely going to require a bit of creative trimming.

I’m glad I bought 2 different kinds. Usually, I just buy the big ones because I want to store a lot of cabbage, and the big variety is way cheap. It’s a little hard to tell due to the perspective, but the cabbage on the right is at least twice as big as the one on the left. These cabbages are a steal – they usually weigh in at 7-8 pounds and cost $2. They are fabulous fresh – crunchy and juicy – and they make great kraut. They aren’t perfectly round, more like a slightly flattened ball, and they are fairly white inside. You can see they also lose their green color in storage. They do, however, appear to sprout! Look closely – this is trying to bloom. The bud looks like a broccoli floret.

Sprouting cabbage

The smaller, greener cabbage was rock-hard when I bought it. I think it was $2 as well, but weighed far less than the flat cabbage. However, see how much better it held up over the winter? I made slaw out of this one today, and while it’s not garden-fresh, it’s certainly acceptable. And at least somewhat green. It’s amazing how all winter food turns up white: cabbage, potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, pork…

So this year, I’m trying to grow some of my own cabbage. Some will be kept in the greenhouse (I know, El, it’s the only way to go! *wink*) and some will go in the root cellar.



  1. Ed Schenk said,

    March 5, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    The cold weather crops are important because they can keep far into the cold weather. If you grew it it means more than if you bought it. Most folks settle for a summer tomato and expect no more.
    I remember last season when I was able to pick English cukes ( in Michigan) early into November ( The tomatoes were done in late October). Cabbage, Squash etc… can all last a couple of weeks in the fridge or in storage. The inportant thing is to not waste food.

  2. varmentrout said,

    March 6, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    There is a huge qualitative difference among cabbage varieties and some are bred specifically for storage, others as early cabbage. I made a very small experiment with two heads of “Kaitlin” (sold as a kraut cabbage, yes, white), which were kept in the garage where minimum temperature so far has been 30° (I have a min/max thermometer, which I recommend highly for trying out storage options). I made a mistake in harvesting them and placing them into the garage while temperatures were still reaching 45-50° briefly and the outer one or two leaves had to be discarded. But the rest was still excellent by January.

    This year I am trying a variety called “Storage”. I’ve also grown some early cabbages that tend to bolt (as your one specimen is attempting to do). When this happens the nitrogen is withdrawn from the non-floral stalk leaves, so your papery covering is probably a result of cycle-related senescence rather than temperature storage problems. I harvested all my Tendersweet by late summer (it was a wonderful fresh cabbage but I doubt would store well since it is thin and tender).

    I have found cabbages to be a very worthwhile crop. They require little care other than a mid-season hit with Bt to prevent cabbage looper damage and are very productive.

  3. varmentrout said,

    March 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Because my political blog is WordPress, the prior comment displayed that address. My gardening blog is Voltaire’s Garden (

  4. Thistle333 said,

    March 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    My grandmother always insisted that cabbage for her canned kraut be harvested after the second heavy frost. We bought the cabbage at the farmer’s market, but she always quizzed the farmers most carefully on this point. She felt cabbage harvested too early would not make acceptable kraut.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: