Cabbage is a very versatile vegetable. It can be cooked or eaten raw in salads. It can be added to soups, stews or stir-fry’s. You can sauté it – which means to cook it in fry pan with a small amount of oil or butter. Or you can braise it – which means to cook it in a small amount of liquid on the stove top or in the oven. But first, you have to figure out how to cut it!
The photo below shows four of the more common varieties found here in the USA.
The Napa cabbage on the far left is also sometimes known as Chinese cabbage although, technically speaking, Chinese cabbage does have a longer, more cylindrical shape than the Napa cabbage. This cabbage looks somewhat like a head of a Romaine lettuce, with really tightly packed leaves. The two cabbages in the middle are green cabbage (on the top) and Savoy cabbage on the bottom. And finally, on the far right is a red cabbage.
Before cutting cabbage, a few words of caution:
Use a stainless steel knife:
The chemicals naturally occurring in the cabbage will react with metal other than stainless steel, and turn both the knife and the cabbage black.
Stabilize your cutting board:
It can be very dangerous if your cutting board slides around the counter while you are trying to slice something. To stop a slippery board, wet a paper towel and squeeze out the excess moisture. Spread the paper towel out on the countertop and lay your cutting board on top of it.
This will stabilize the cutting board.
To cut the Napa (Chinese cabbage), cut the bottom off and then just peel away the cabbage leaves or leave it whole and slice it into shreds.
The Green, Savoy and red cabbage are a different story. When you cut these round, heavy, firm, dense heads of cabbage, you will discover a very thick core that needs to be removed.
First remove any brown or wilted leaves on the very outside of the cabbage.
Then cut the cabbage in half, right through the stem.
This thick stem needs to get removed.
Cut the “half” in half again.
This is now 1/4 of the head of cabbage.
Place the flat side of the cabbage down and cut the core out.
Once the core removed, throw it out. It is too tough and fibrous to eat.
To shred cabbage, place the flat side of the cabbage down on the board and start making long, thin, slices into the cabbage. Be sure to keep your fingers bent when you are doing any slicing.
The core of the Savoy (shown below) and that of the green cabbage is removed the same way I demonstrated with the red cabbage.
Slicing any of the cabbages is much easier if the cabbage is crisp and cold from the refrigerator.
Green cabbage is the base for many coleslaw recipes. It is available pre-shredded at the grocery store. I used the pre-shredded for my Ramen Noodle Crunchy Coleslaw.
Sweet and Sour Cabbage (shown below) is a great side dish to serve with Roasted Pork, Leg of Lamb or Glazed ham.
Cabbage Soup (shown below) is thick, hearty, full of flavor, and perfect for the beginner cook.
My Apple Crisp Recipe-Video, which serves 6 to 8 people, has turned into a very popular video. I decided the full recipe was too much of a splurge to make for just David and me, so I have adapted the recipe to make just two individual servings.
When making individual servings, it is really important to have the right size dish. A flat, shallow dish, like a Creme Brulee dish is perfect.
These dishes measure about 4 inches wide by 6 inches long and 1 inch high. Be sure the dish you choose is oven-safe!
To make two servings of Apple Crisp, follow the Apple Crisp Video directions.
For the ingredient you will need:
- 1/3 cup of flour
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- A pinch of nutmeg
- 3 Tablespoons of butter
- 2 apples
In the video I mixed the topping either with a pastry blender or two knives. Here I just used my fingers and it worked beautifully!
The topping should end up looking like the photo below.
Peel and core the apples. (The video shows 4 different ways to core an apple!) Then slice the apples and put them in the individual baking dishes.
Sprinkle the topping on the apples. (Yes, I do like lots of topping!)
Many recipes add oatmeal to the topping which does give it a wonderful texture.
Be sure to place the Apple Crisps on a baking sheet before putting it into the oven. Just in case it bubbles over!
It will only take about 30 minutes for the apples to become tender and juicy.
Serve the Apple Crisp right in the individual baking dishes as is or with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
There are a gazillion different varieties of apples. When traveling overseas, I am often at a loss choosing apples as the varieties available in Europe and Australia are often very different from those sold here in the States.
Apples like Granny Smiths and Braeburns are usually available worldwide, but many other varieties are only available locally.
Different kinds of apples vary in taste and texture, which determine what they are used for. Apples are basically divided into three categories:
- Cooking and / or Eating
Many stores have signs telling you how best to use the apples.
If you are unsure which ones to buy ask the Produce Person for help.
When cooking things like apple pie or apple crisp (video) the apples should end up being tender and soft to the bite, but still retain their shape. If you choose to cook with apples that are described just as *eating* apples, the recipe probably won’t come out that great. The apples may turn to a watery mush.
Apples used for cooking versus apples that you eat for a snack, vary considerably in how sweet or tart they are.
Granny Smiths are too tart for me to eat but I love cooking with them. Braeburns are both tart and sweet and crisp and are great for eating and cooking.
Cooking apples, like Bramley, Newton Wonder, and Grenadier (English varieties) are very sour and basically used just for cooking.
Tips for Working with Apples
- Buy apples that are smooth and free of bruises.
- If you are adding apples to fruit salad be sure to coat them with lemon or orange juice to prevent them from turning brown.
- Apples will last longer if you store them in the refrigerator rather then leaving them on the counter top.
- Put an apple in a paper bag with an avocado to help ripen the avocado.
- A vegetable peeler works really well for peeling an apple.
How to Core an Apple
(In my Apple Crisp Video I demonstrate all the various ways one can core an apple.)
There are many ways to core an apple. You could slice around the core with a large knife.
Or you could use a melon baler to scoop out the core.
Or you could use an official apple corer. This odd looking utensil gets pushed down into the apple. (Be sure to leave the apple on the cutting board or you might end up coring the palm of your hand!)
Then you just pull out the core.
While people have preferences for different kinds, everybody loves apples!