It’s Spring Time……
And cooking with the seasons means choosing fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of freshness and flavor and for the purposes of freshness, April is a fabulous month for choice! Buying locally grown produce is the best: local produce is less likely to be damaged, uses less energy to transport, ripens more naturally. In fact, when fruits and vegetables have been allowed to ripen on the vine for consumption — they taste sweeter and have significantly more intense flavor.
And, locally sourced produce helps the local economy as well.
April Fruits and Vegetables
Leeks (end of season)
Lettuce (leaf and head)
This Month’s Featured Vegetable: Cabbage
Cabbage is in season all year long and is more abundant during the beginning of Spring.Cabbage is a low-calorie, fiber-rich, leafy vegetable that boasts plenty of health benefits, which include: treatment for constipation, headaches, obesity, arthritis, and vitamin C deficiency. An unsung hero of the vegetable crisper, this versatile veggie can be used in everything from slaws and salads, to fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, to soups and stews and Indian curries.
Photo Credit: Produce Made Simple, 2018
Cabbage comes in a variety of kinds – green, red, Savoy and Napa.
Green and red cabbages are identical with the exception of their colour. Both are quite heavy for their size due to their density and are smooth and spherical in shape.
Savoy cabbage has crinkly and flexible green leaves that are looser than a green or red cabbage. Savoy is also milder in flavour (with the exception of the stems, which are slightly bitter) and very tender.
Napa cabbage is long with oblong leaves and pale green in colour and tastes milder than green cabbage and is common in Asian cuisine.
How to Select and Store Cabbage
Select cabbages with compact heads and that feel heavy for their size with good colour and nice crisp leaves. Avoid cabbages that have brown and/or blemished spots, or loose or yellow leaves. Cabbage generally keeps for a pretty long time and can be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for up to two weeks. That quality along for most cabbages makes it a good ingredient to keep on hand. However, Napa cabbage has a shorter shelf life and will only last approximately four days.
How to Prepare Cabbage
A cousin to broccoli, this potent anti-cancerous cruciferous vegetable can be a part of many healthy meals. It cab be great raw, in slaws, roasted in pieces, or chopped and sautéed with olive oil and garlic. It cab also be the best comfort foods of all times – cabbage rolls.
To prepare your cabbage, first remove the outer leaves and run it under cold water. To core the cabbage, use a small sharp knife and cut a cone shaped section from the bottom of the cabbage. Or, you can cut the cabbage into quarters starting at the stem end. Be sure to cut the core out of each piece.
You can also freeze cabbage for future use. Start by first chopping it into slices or chunks, depending on how you choose to use it in your recipes. Blanch cabbage for about a minute or two in boiling water, then drain and submerse into an ice bath to shock the cabbage and stop the cooking process. Spread the leaves or pieces out and pat dry. Transfer to a baking sheet to flash freeze, and then place in an airtight container and use within 9 months.
Important to note: One pound of cabbage will yield approximately four cups of shredded raw cabbage or two cups cooked cabbage.
- Red cabbage tends to turn pale blue when cooked so if you want it to retain its vibrant purple colour, add a little vinegar or lemon juice (or something slightly acidic like apples or wine).
- Shredded cabbage is a great addition to any salad, soup or stir-fry and cooked shredded cabbage is a terrific filling in wraps and casseroles.
- Try cooking cabbage until it’s just tender. This way it will retain its sweetness and crunch.
- If you find it difficult to slice cabbage thinly, try peeling a few leaves off the head of the cabbage and stacking them on your cutting board. This makes it much easier to finely slice to your desired thickness.
- Said to aid digestion, fermented foods including sauerkraut made from cabbage are on trend. It’s also very easy to do yourself at home. This recipe is a good starting point for those who would like to give it a go.
- Speaking of foods that are on trend, Kimchi, another fermented cabbage-based side dish, is having a much–deserved moment and can also be made at home.
Produce Made Simple: Cabbage. (2018) The Ontario Produce Marketing Association. Date Accessed March 18, 2018. https://producemadesimple.ca/cabbage/