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Like many vegetables, it is nutritious raw, but loses many nutrients when cooked. It is popular pickled, especially in the Alsace area of France ("Choucroute"), Germany ("Sauerkraut") and in Eastern Europe. Our photograph is of a white cabbage, but other varieties include, green, savoy and red.

Cabbage was despised by the Ancient Greeks and Romans (who's favourite vegetable was the root of the beet), but the vegetable known to them bore little resemblance to the one we know today. The forms tolerant to their warm climates were leafy, non-heading varieties, the kinds we now call kale and collards. Aristotle, among others, followed the Egyptian practice of eating cabbage before banquets, in the belief it would keep the wine from fuddling his wise head. Indeed, the word cabbage comes from the Latin word "caput" - meaning head. There is no word for cabbage in Sanskrit or other ancient Eastern languages, which leads plant historians to think that Eastern peoples didn"t have cabbages.

Hard-headed cabbages are thought to have arrived in Europe with the Celts in around 600 BC, but could only be developed in cooler parts of the continent. the vegetable as we know it not being developed until the Middle Ages. See our Recipe Section

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards.

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