Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
Cabbage, a staple in numerous global cuisines, is known for it’s adaptability in everything from sauteed to steamed dishes. It is a staple but it is more than just a humble vegetable—it’s a culinary powerhouse. Plus, it’s affordable and packed full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It can even promote digestive health and strengthen your overall well-being. And you don’t have to stick to the same boring one. In fact, there are loads of different types of cabbage available, from crispy napa cabbage to savoy, and everything in between.
Let’s explore a variety of common and exotic cabbage types all over the globe and discover a world of possibilities with this versatile cruciferous vegetable.
Table of contents
- The Different Types of Cabbage
- Green Cabbage
- Red Cabbage
- Savoy Cabbage
- Napa Cabbage
- Dutch White Cabbage
- Bok Choy
- Conehead Cabbage
- Tuscan Cabbage
- January King Cabbage
- Portuguese Cabbage
- Brussels Sprouts
- Earliana Cabbage
- Golden Acre Cabbage
- Red Acre Cabbage
- Late Flat Dutch Cabbage
- Danish Ballhead Cabbage
- Cannonball Cabbage
- Copenhagen Market Cabbage
- Deadon Cabbage
- Choy Sum
- Gonzales Cabbage
- Parel Cabbage
- Bilko Cabbage
- Charleston Wakefield Cabbage
- Mammoth Red Rock
- Rubicon Cabbage
- Nutritional Value and Health Benefit
- Regional Recipes: Cooking with Cabbage
- Wrapping it up
The Different Types of Cabbage
Cabbage is a versatile cruciferous vegetable. The term ‘cruciferous’ refers to vegetables characterized by the four-petal flowers which look like a cross or crucifix shape. Cabbage comes in several varieties, from common to exotic. Here are 27 of them:
Green cabbage is the most recognizable and widely consumed cabbage variety. Its dense, round head features smooth, vibrant green leaves. Its mild, slightly peppery flavor makes it a staple ingredient in coleslaw, stir-fries, and various European and Asian dishes.
Red cabbage, with its vibrant purple hue, is another popular and common choice. Beyond its striking color, red cabbage offers a slightly spicier and earthier taste compared to the green variety. Its sturdy leaves are commonly used in salads and pickled dishes, adding both flavor and visual appeal.
Savoy cabbage is known for its crinkled leaves and pale green color. It adds a delightful touch of texture to dishes. Its leaves are tender and more delicate, making it perfect for stuffing, wrapping, or using in lighter salads.
Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, boasts long, pale-green leaves with a crisp texture and a mildly sweet flavor. Its versatility shines in Asian cuisine, where it’s used in stir-fries, kimchi, and spring rolls. Its elongated shape and ruffled leaves set it apart, making it a favorite choice for slaws and wraps.
Dutch White Cabbage
Dutch White Cabbage, often simply called “White Cabbage,” is a well-known cabbage variety. Originating from Europe, it thrives in temperate climates and has dense, pale green leaves. It also offers a mild, slightly sweet flavor. This versatile cabbage plays a prominent role in European cuisines, particularly in dishes like sauerkraut, coleslaw, and hearty winter soups.
Bok Choy, with its white stems and dark green leaves, is a type of Asian cabbage. Its crispness adds a satisfying crunch to dishes, and its mild, slightly peppery taste complements stir-fries, soups, and salads. Recognizable by its small, compact size and spoon-shaped leaves, Bok Choy brings an Asian flair to dishes like stir fries and noodle soups.
Conehead Cabbage, known for its distinctive cone-shaped head, has a mild, sweet flavor. While its origins are not tied to a specific region, this cabbage variety has become a global favorite. Whether incorporated into salads, stir-fries, or pickled creations, Conehead Cabbage works really well in a variety of different dishes and cuisines.
Kohlrabi is a classic variety of cabbage originating from Northern Europe, where it thrives in cool climates. Its bulbous, knobby appearance sets it apart from more common cabbage types. Kohlrabi has mild, slightly sweet flavor and a crisp, juicy texture. This crunchy texture makes it a great addition to salads, slaws, and stir-fries.
Tuscan Cabbage, also known as “Cavolo Nero,” is a common yet distinguished variety of cabbage. Originating from the Mediterranean region, it is celebrated for its long, dark leaves and earthy, slightly peppery flavor. While not as widely known as green or red cabbage, it adds a unique touch to Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Tuscan Cabbage shines in soups, stews, and sautés, contributing a robust texture and a bold, hearty taste.
January King Cabbage
Originating in Northern Europe, January King Cabbage is a very pretty vegetable! It has striking blue-green leaves and a robust, earthy taste. This winter cabbage variety thrives in colder climates. Its leaves, tender and slightly peppery, make it a good base for hearty soups, stews, and coleslaw.
Portuguese Cabbage, also known as “Couve Portuguesa,” is yet another classic and common cabbage variety. Originating in Portugal, as you might expect, it flourishes in the Mediterranean climate and is prized for its vibrant green leaves, tender texture, and mild, earthy flavor. Couve Portuguesa is a staple in Portuguese cuisine, often featured in traditional dishes like Caldo Verde soup.
Brussels sprouts are one of those things you either love or hate! They’re small cruciferous gems that deliver a delightful burst of flavor and texture. These tiny cabbages, with a mild, nutty taste and a tender-yet-slightly-crisp texture, have won hearts around the world but are best known for their place on the British Sunday roast table. In Europe, they’re often paired with bacon for added richness, while in Asia, they shine in stir-fried recipes. Their versatility extends to salads, slaws, and even as a pizza topping.
Earliana Cabbage comes from North America, and is also known as “Early Jersey Wakefield.” This type of cabbage is celebrated for its early harvest, making it a sought-after choice for gardeners. With crisp, pale-green leaves and a mild, slightly sweet flavor, it’s a versatile addition to salads, slaws, and stir-fries. Earliana Cabbage’s unique appeal lies in its ability to grace early-season dishes, so you can enjoy cabbage salads and sides sooner than you think!
Golden Acre Cabbage
Golden Acre Cabbage, often known as simply “Golden Acre,” is a classic cabbage which originates from the United States. It has round, compact heads, vibrant green leaves, and a mildly sweet flavor. Thriving in temperate climates, Golden Acre is an ideal choice for coleslaw, stir-fries, and pickled dishes.
Red Acre Cabbage
The Red Acre Cabbage, also sometimes called “Purple Acre,” has a deep, vibrant purple-red hue. Originating in Europe, it thrives in temperate climates and is now cultivated worldwide. The leaves have a slightly peppery flavor with a hint of sweetness. Its dense texture and rich color make it look visually appealing in dishes which you want to photograph or just eat with your eyes first! Common in European cuisines, the Red Acre Cabbage also finds favor in Asian stir-fries.
Late Flat Dutch Cabbage
Late Flat Dutch Cabbage, also known as simply “Flat Dutch Cabbage,” has its roots in Europe, notably the Netherlands. These days, however, it can be found in gardens and markets across the globe. Renowned for its mild, sweet flavor and tender, dense leaves, the Late Flat Dutch Cabbage is a popular choice for coleslaw, sauerkraut, and stir-fries.
Danish Ballhead Cabbage
Danish Ballhead Cabbage, true to its name, forms dense, round heads, making it a classic cabbage choice. This type of cabbage has a crisp texture and mild, slightly sweet flavor. It thrives in cooler climates, and it shines in coleslaw, sauerkraut, and hearty winter soups. Its sturdy, compact structure makes it ideal for pickling without going mushy or falling apart.
The Cannonball Cabbage, also known as “Round Cabbage,” comes from Europe. As you might guess, it’s round and shaped like a cannonball. It grows particularly well in the cool climates of Northern regions of Europe, but is widely available.
It has pale green leaves and a mild, earthy flavor with a subtle sweetness. Coupled with its crisp texture, cannonball cabbage is an excellent addition to salads, coleslaws, and stir-fries. In European cuisines, its often found in hearty stews and comforting casseroles. Cannonball Cabbage is a versatile kitchen staple, known for its ability to retain its shape and flavor even when cooked.
Copenhagen Market Cabbage
Copenhagen Market Cabbage from Denmark has a mild and fresh flavor. Ideal for smaller gardens and urban spaces, this cabbage variety forms round heads with crisp, tender leaves. Whether used in salads, stir-fries, or pickled preparations, its mild taste means it can be easily adapted to different cuisines. Copenhagen Market Cabbage’s compact nature and universal appeal make it a prized ingredient for home gardeners and chefs alike.
Deadon Cabbage is easily recognizable by its deep green-bluish curly leaves. Unlike many of the other cabbages which are slightly sweet, the Deaon cabbage has a subtle hint of bitterness in its taste profile. Its most notable distinction is that is is an essential ingredient in kimchi, a cornerstone of Korean cuisine.
Choy Sum, often referred to as “Chinese flowering cabbage,” comes from China. This vibrant vegetable stands out with its tender stems and vibrant yellow blossoms. The stems and blossoms combined offer contrasting textures and a subtly sweet, slightly mustardy flavor. Choy Sum’s adaptability is showcased in Asian cuisine, where it plays a leading role in stir-fries, soups, and salads.
Gonzales Cabbage, also known as “Col de Gonzales,” is a remarkable cabbage originating in the Mediterranean region. It thrives in sun-drenched climates and is celebrated for its tender, crisp leaves and slightly peppery flavor. While less common than its counterparts, it’s an essential ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, gracing dishes like coleslaw and salads.
Parel Cabbage, also known as “Dutch Parel Cabbage,” is considered an exotic cabbage variety. Originally from The Netherlands, it grows well in temperate climates. It’s easy to spot thanks to small, compact heads and striking texture. While less common than other cabbages, Parel Cabbage offers a crisp and slightly sweet flavor. Its petite size and delightful crunch make it a great choice for dishes needing something more delicate, like elegant garnishes and side dishes.
Bilko Cabbage originates from Eastern Europe. Also known as “Bilko Head,” this cabbage has tightly packed, dark green leaves. They’re very crunchy and a have a subtly sweet, earthy flavor. Bilko Cabbage is typically used in to salads, stir-fries, and slaws, imparting a refreshing texture and taste. Found in local markets worldwide, it’s gained popularity across the globe because it’s adaptable and easy to prepare.
Charleston Wakefield Cabbage
The Charleston Wakefield Cabbage is also known as the Brunswick Cabbage or Janus Head. Whichever of the three names you prefer, it’s a type of cabbage that has it’s origins in Germany. Unlike conventional cabbages, Brunswick cabbage offers a subtly nutty undertone, setting it apart from other varieties.
Mammoth Red Rock
Mammoth Red Rock is a remarkable cabbage variety. Originating from Europe, this cabbage’s vibrant hue and colossal size set it apart from other cabbage varieties. It has a strong flavor and tender, crinkled leaves, Mammoth Red Rock excels in coleslaws and pickled dishes, where it doesn’t get ‘lost’ in the other flavors. Whether in Eastern European borscht or Asian-inspired salads, its a great choice for those who want a robust flavor.
Rubicon Cabbage, which also has its roots in Europe, is sometimes referred to as “Red Rubicon” due to it’s color. The leaves of this cabbage variety are deeply colored in a vibrant purple-red hue. Like many of the other purple or red varieties, it has a mild, slightly peppery flavor. This versatile ingredient finds popularity in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines alike.
Nutritional Value and Health Benefit
Cabbage, like most vegetables, is a good addition to a healthy and balanced diet. But how exactly does it help keep your body happy? Here are some of the reasons you should consider adding cabbage to your weekly grocery shop:
- Digestive Health: Cabbage is a rich source of dietary fiber, aiding in digestion and promoting regular bowel movements. The fiber content supports a healthy digestive system.
- Low in Calories: It is low in calories, making it a weight-friendly option to consider as main ingredient in your Light Dinner Meals.
- Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: Cabbage is rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting, and vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports the immune system. It also provides minerals like potassium for regulating blood pressure and manganese for bone health.
- Immune System Boost: All types of cabbages is an excellent source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that strengthens the immune system. This can help ward off illnesses and infections.
- Bone Health: The high vitamin K content in cabbage is beneficial for bone health, aiding in proper mineralization. This can contribute to a reduced risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
- Heart Health: Compounds like phytosterols in cabbage can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Cabbage also contains various phytonutrients and antioxidants that possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can help in reducing inflammation in the body.
- Blood Pressure Regulation: The potassium content in cabbage helps regulate blood pressure levels, contributing to cardiovascular health.
Regional Recipes: Cooking with Cabbage
Cabbage is a versatile and globally beloved vegetable, and its culinary uses vary widely across different regions. Whether you prefer kimchi, stir-fry, or slaw, let’s take a look at some common cabbage recipes that highlight how you can use up that cabbage in your fridge.
|German Sauerkraut||Germany is famous for its sauerkraut, a fermented cabbage dish that is both tangy and savory. To make sauerkraut, cabbage is thinly sliced, salted, and left to ferment. It’s a staple side dish in many German meals and pairs wonderfully with sausages and meats.|
|Korean Kimchi||Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine and comes in various forms, with napa cabbage being a popular choice. The cabbage is fermented with a spicy mix of garlic, ginger, chili peppers, and other seasonings. Kimchi is not only a flavorful side dish but also a probiotic powerhouse known for its gut-health benefits.|
|Indian Cabbage Sabzi||In India, cabbage sabzi is a frequently enjoyed vegetarian dish. Cabbage is sautéed with an array of aromatic spices such as cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric, and green chilies. This uncomplicated yet highly flavorful preparation is commonly served alongside rice or flatbreads like roti, making it a staple in Indian cuisine.|
|Chinese Stir-Fried Cabbage||In Chinese cuisine, cabbage is frequently used in stir-fries. It’s quick to cook and pairs well with a variety of seasonings, including ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. A simple stir-fry with cabbage and other vegetables is a common side dish in Chinese households.|
Europe and America
|Irish Colcannon||Colcannon is a classic Irish dish crafted by blending mashed potatoes and cabbage. While it’s traditionally served on St. Patrick’s Day, it can be eaten anytime through the year.. Variations of Colcannon may involve the addition of scallions or bacon to enhance its flavor profile.|
|Polish Golabki||In Poland, Golabki is a cherished dish in which cabbage leaves are filled with a mixture of ground meat, often pork or beef, and rice. These stuffed cabbage rolls are then simmered in a tomato sauce, resulting in a hearty and comforting meal. Golabki is particularly popular during celebrations and family gatherings, where it brings both flavor and tradition to the table.|
|Southern Coleslaw||Coleslaw is a classic Southern dish in the United States, often served as a side with barbecue or fried chicken. Shredded cabbage is mixed with a creamy dressing, typically made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar.|
The most common type of cabbage worldwide is green cabbage (Brassica oleracea capitata). People around the world widely cultivate and consume green cabbage due to its crisp texture, mild flavor, and versatility in cooking. It is a staple ingredient in dishes like coleslaw, stir-fries, soups, and sauerkraut.
Natural plant pigments, particularly cyanidin and pelargonidin, give red cabbage its red color. These pigments are responsible for the vibrant red and purple hues seen in various fruits and vegetables.
Green cabbage is the go-to choice for making classic coleslaw, known for its crunchy texture and mild flavor.
Wrapping it up
To wrap up our cabbage journey, we’ve explored 27 unique types, ranging from common classics to exotic varieties. These versatile vegetables not only taste great but also pack a punch of health benefits. Furthermore, the different cabbage varieties are key players in dishes worldwide, from coleslaw to kimchi to sauerkraut. Whether you’re enjoying Polish Golabki or an Irish Colcannon, cabbages add flavor and nutrition to your meals. Enjoy the wonders of the different types of cabbage for their culinary charm, and embrace the goodness they bring to our meals worldwide.