When Life Gives You Cabbage

Back in spring I was an innocent lamb. I planted and I planted — with nary a care for what weeds might rear their ugly heads come June.

I didn’t think about yield or much else, I just wanted to tuck little baby plants into healthy soil.

As far as cruciferous vegetables, I had a real hay day! I planted six late green cabbages, and six red ones for good measure.

Then I turned around and got exotic, planting one of the most underrated vegetables on planet Earth, the ethereal looking but wholly down-to-earth tasting kohlrabi.

But I still wasn’t done! I planted six broccoli and six cauliflower.

As the season went on, the broccoli went off first, giving us a beautiful supply of sweet and tender stalks. Mental note: do that again! 

I didn’t worry too much about the cabbage moths (loupers) or slugs (cheeky bastards) this go-round, figuring they can have their share — not anything to fret about.

Then I started to notice the cauliflower, rising higher. They were curling their leaves inwards, self-blanching the succulent white flowers that would soon find themselves on my plate. Incredible and worth admiration.

But the cabbages. They giveth.

On the last day of August, I cut one (takes some elbow grease and the magical curved knife) and admired it for a time.

Sidestepping a bunch of berries that needed to be made into jam (again), I got to work.

Did you know that just one good-sized cabbage can make four full quarts of sauerkraut? Now you do.

Using the nifty fermenting lids I adore, I made a batch to be put in the downstairs produce refrigerator. It only takes four or five days to ferment your way to happiness. (The beautiful old sauerkraut crock is currently holding up some mega houseplants and has earned her retirement anyway.)

As for the other cabbages, next up is red cabbage with caraway, my favorite. 

And I’ve also on to cauliflower — three ways so far! Easy coconut-cauliflower stew (credit for that one to Glenn), cauliflower delight, cauliflower steaks and another one I altered that involves roasting the cauliflower. Delicious!

Oh, and if you’re like one of those 18th century sea-faring adventurers with weak knees from scurvy, you can get your vitamin C a la sauerkraut. 

Sometimes the humblest vegetables are the ones to really knock your socks off — and remind you again that the old timers had it right. 


adjective, Botany relating to or denoting plants of the cabbage family (Brassicaceae, formerly Cruciferae). 

ORIGIN: mid 19th century: from modern Latin Cruciferae (plural), from Latin crux, cruc- ‘cross’ + -fer ‘bearing’ (because the flowers have four equal petals arranged crosswise), + -ous.