Cabbages are a member of the brassicas group of vegetables relatives include kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and of course the various types and colours of cabbage.
Their origins are difficult to isolate as they tend to be an amalgam of plants developed from the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean stock. The Greeks, Romans and Egyptians all enjoyed the benefits of the humble cabbage. Cabbages have been cultivated for thousands of years; there is much reference in Roman times with a wide variety of uses including wound wrapping, hair of the dog after a heavy nights drinking or taken in various forms prior to a heavy nights drinking.
It is generally accepted that the Romans introduced the Europeans to cabbages; the French call it caboche which translates into head. English speaking people are known to talk in terms of a head of cabbage; the Danish are generally accepted as the developers of coleslaw and their name for cabbage kool and the Danish name for salad is sla hence the word coleslaw.
Cabbage keeps without refrigeration and may last as much as a month or two, though as they age they lose their green or red colour and tend to go cream and white with time. It was recognised by the masters of ancient sailing vessels that cabbage was a worthwhile addition to ships stores to maintain crew health; a single serving of cabbage would provide the crew with half of their daily requirements of vitamin C and boost levels of manganese and vitamin B6. Cabbage is also a rich source of dietary fibre.
Cabbages tend to grow better in rich moist soils and temperate climates spaced 300 to 400mm apart. The health benefits of consuming cabbage include being used as a medicinal herb for a variety of ailments, ancient Greece recommend cabbage as a laxative and used cabbage juice as an antidote for mushroom poisoning, the treatment of bruises, the bathing in urine from those who frequently eat cabbage, the Romans and the Egyptians used cabbage in relation to drinking and alcoholism and was used in WW1 for trench foot, a poultice for ulcers and abscesses.
Cabbage is a rich source of vitamin C and a good source of fibre also magnesium, lupeol, sinigrin, sulforaphane and potassium. Red cabbage like beets contains betalains and betalains have anti-inflammatory properties.
8 cabbage leaves
500g minced beef or pork
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic (or to taste)
1⁄2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp capers, chopped
1 egg, beaten
425g canned tomatoes drained, chopped and reserve juice
Blanch cabbage leaves in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then drain and plunge into cold water.
Drain again and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine all remaining ingredients except butter and tomato juice.
Divide into 8 portions and place one portion on the stem end of each cabbage leaf. Fold sides over filling and roll up into a cylinder.
Place stuffed rolls close together in a buttered casserole dish, seam side down. Dot with butter and pour tomato juice over. Cover tightly and bake in a preheated moderate oven for 1 hour or until rolls are very tender.