Did you know that red cabbage is a good indicator of how much acid is in the soil? It turns different colors based on how acidic the soil is, which I thought was fascinating. Red cabbage can actually be blue, green, or purple in different environments, depending on what the soil content is like.
Red cabbage makes for a standout addition to a meal, though- usually as part of a larger dish and not often served on its own. You have probably seen red cabbage used in salads, stir fries, and coleslaw, and you may be wondering what to do with red cabbage and how to use it.
Does it need to be cooked first? Is there a special preparation method it has to go through? I will cover all of that and how to use and cook red cabbage in this article. I think it’s a great addition to some of my favorite dishes, and I want to share with you why that is.
What to Make with Red Cabbage
I mentioned a few kinds of dishes already that red cabbage is used for, and one of the main reasons people will use this particular veggie in their food is for its bright and standout color. It has a vibrant hue to it that adds a lot of color to a meal. The way a meal looks has a lot to do with how much we enjoy it.
Poorly presented food that is bland and boring looking will send signals to our brain that what we are eating is not going to taste very good. Red cabbage with its striking color tells the brain that you will be eating something exciting. It prepares the tastebuds for a special experience.
You can make a variety of salads with red cabbage, and it isn’t usually meant to be the salad base. It is often used in conjunction with iceberg lettuce or other kinds of cabbage, usually pairing well with yellows and greens.
What is red cabbage good for? It is also used to add some texture and color to stir fries, and you can use red cabbage in place of traditional cabbage in all sorts of Asian dishes. The texture is the same, and the flavor isn’t going to be so different that most people notice it. You just get a different color, and that can be fun.
How to Cut Red Cabbage
This is one of those questions where the answer depends on what you are going to do with it. For salads and str fry, you probably want long strips. For coleslaw, you would be shredding the cabbage. You can use a cheese grater to do that, actually, and you can run all of your coleslaw veggies through the same grater.
How to prepare red cabbage for your dish? Make sure it washed first, under running water and rubbed with your hands to ensure that all the debris and dirt comes off. Next, peel off any leaves that are turning dark or that have a lot of discoloration. Those are likely going bad.
You can cut the cabbage in half with a large kitchen knife and then slice from one end of the cabbage half to the other to make your strips. It’s okay if not all of your strips turn out the same size. Variety is important in your meal presentation.
How to shred red cabbage? Just use a grate- preferably the large side. Run the cabbage down the grater over and over, lifting it as you reach the end of the grater and then setting it back down on the top for another run. You can shred cabbage just like you shred cheese. That’s how you make red cabbage for coleslaw, tacos, and other foods that require small pieces of the vegetable.
How to Pickle Red Cabbage
You’ll need some apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar to make pickled red cabbage. You also want a few seasonings on hand, like salt, pepper, garlic, and sugar, but you can use a wide variety of spices for this dish.
Shred the cabbage using a grater and then create a brine to mix it in. The brine should be made from vinegar, water, and all of your seasonings. Let the cabbage sit in the brine for about two hours.
There is no need to ferment pickled red cabbage, which is what sets it apart from kimchi, which uses napa cabbage. Instead, you can just place the brined cabbage into the fridge in an airtight jar. The flavors will set in and develop in that environment, creating a wonderfully pickled experience.
How to Grow Red Cabbage
Red cabbage needs firm soil to grow well. Make sure your soil is properly prepared before you try to plant any red cabbage there.
This plant does well when it has lots of sunshine, but that’s not absolutely essential. It can do okay in the shade as well. Try not to choose any soil that dries out a lot or that is constantly damp. Finding that right balance is important for your red cabbage to grow well.
You want the roots of the cabbage to be pretty deep so that they aren’t disturbed. Make sure you pick the weeds out frequently. Otherwise, the weeds will start to affect the tender roots of the red cabbage plant.
When you water your red cabbage plants, be sure they are getting water deep down to the roots but not being overwatered. You should water gently and aerate the soil when possible to ensure the water reaches the roots.
Once you start to see the cabbage heads appear, you can harvest the plant if you like. The longer you wait, however, the bigger the heads will become. Watch out for matured heads that are getting large, though, as a heavy rain can crack them open and require you pick them right away.