Cool cabbage

redcabbageCabbage used to get a bit of a bad rap, probably because of those memories we have of it as an overcooked, soggy and lifeless vegetable served to us by our parents or grandparents.

But forget about all that, because like its cousin cauliflower, cabbage is cool again – its popularity fuelled by the massive interest in fermented foods (cabbage being the central ingredient in the famed vegetable ferment, sauerkraut), and by a renewed interest from chefs and cooks who have found a whole host of new and creative ways to prepare it.

Roasted whole in bone broth with onions and bacon is how paleo chef Pete Evans recommends it, while Jamie Oliver has a simple but tasty recipe on his website for braised cabbage, that involves boiling cabbage in a broth with bacon and thyme and serving with butter, olive oil, salt and pepper.

The crunch of cabbage makes it ideal for salads – one of the simplest is to combine shredded red cabbage with julienned carrot and a handful of mint or other chopped fresh herb and a vinegary dressing or try it with shredded apple, local pecans and a creamy dressing.

Cabbage is a winter vegetable on the Northern Rivers and is in season from now until the weather starts to warm up again. You’ll find red and green varieties available at the farmers markets now (try the Everest Farm stall) and Chinese cabbage (wombok) in the coming weeks at stalls including Organic Forrest. Wombok is on of the sweetest varieties of cabbage and is ideal for Asian dishes like stir fries, dumplings and spring rolls. It’s also the variety of cabbage to use in the spicy Korean ferment, Kim Chi (available from the market’s fermented vegetable specialists, Byron Bay Alive Foods.)

Of course no conversation about cabbage is complete without talking about sauerkraut, the fermented form of cabbage that is chock full of good bacteria that are so beneficial for digestion and gut health. It’s also packed with vitamin C and fibre. Sauerkraut is a delicious condiment that’s simple and fun to make at home  – in fact, once you make one batch you might find yourself with a new hobby! All you need to start is fresh cabbage- red or green – salt and a jar to put it in. Just Google sauerkraut and you’ll find a whole host of resources and recipes available. Sandor Katz’s basic sauerkraut recipe is a good place to start

If you don’t have the time or inclination to do it yourself,  visit Alive Foods at the market, who have home made sauerkraut, including a traditional variety and their Earth and Sea Kraut, which includes turmeric, pepper, seaweed, and ginger.

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