Greens that are more than just good for you
Beloved of Crackerjack fans and often associated with, at best, peasant stews and, at worst, crash diets with dubious side-effects, cabbage might not strike you as a vegetable with much spark.
But you would be wrong. Cabbage has a long association with magic and mystery. As well as being really incredibly good for us, cabbage has some intriguing healing properties, too.
Apparently Cato himself advised eating cabbage soaked in vinegar ahead of an evening of heavy drinking: “If you wish, at a dinner party, to drink a good deal and to dine freely, before the feast eat as much raw cabbage and vinegar as you wish, and likewise, after you have feasted, eat about five leaves,” he advised. “It will make you as if you had eaten nothing and you shall drink as much as you please.” Sounds like a more risky enterprise than a dose of milk thistle and a Berocca the morning after but if it’s good enough for Roman statesmen it’s good enough for us.
Caesar’s armies allegedly carried cabbage with them on the march to dress wounds. We imagine it doesn’t have the stick of an Elastoplast but it’s much more manly, somehow.
And indeed modern studies bear out this theory with cabbages being shown to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Large savoy cabbage leaves have been used by many a breastfeeding mother to ease the symptoms of engorgement, by placing them in the cup of a brassiere. It’s said the effects are strengthened by putting the leaves in the fridge first, though Caesar never confirmed that to our knowledge.
If that hasn’t convinced you that cabbage is the king of the veg patch, we urge you to read Lia Leendertz’s feature on cabbage in our January issue: Today, Tomorrow, To Keep, in which she shares cabbage recipes for today’s supper, something to look forward to tomorrow and another idea for a cabbagey treat to put away. We’ve tried the sauerkraut and can confirm it is a game changer. The issue is in the shops now.