The humble cabbage belongs to most consumed vegetable anywhere in the world: Sturdy, abundant and cheap it is cultivated in remote valleys of the Himalayas, plains in Bavaria and huge fields in the US. It stores so well that we can buy it throughout the year. Groups of Celtic wanderers probably brought wild cabbage to Europe around 600 B.C. From there it spread throughout the so-called civilized world. Sauerkraut, a dish made from fermented cabbage, has led to a curious nickname for German people. It was consumed by Dutch sailors during long sea voyages to prevent scurvy. Early German settlers introduced the traditional sauerkraut recipe into the United States. As a result German soldiers and people of German descent were often referred to as "krauts."
Although we have eaten cabbage for thousands of years, the real value of this vegetable came to light only in recent years. New studies show that cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage contain a lot of phytonutrients which give a good protection against cancer. These phytonutrients activate the production of enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodies eliminate harmful compounds. Cruciferous vegetables lower our risk of cancer more effectively than any other vegetables or fruits. Studies suggest that just by eating 3 to 5 cups of cabbage a week you can lower your risk of cancer around 30 per cent. In addition cabbage provides plenty of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from harmful free radicals.
To make the most of your cabbage, chop it and then let it sit for around 10 minutes before cooking it lightly, or in my recipe, before eating your salad. You can keep cabbage in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for about 2 weeks. If you need to store a part of a head, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.