A vegetable consisting of layers of thick leaves that grow around each other from the stem. The leaves of some varieties form dense, solid heads and others have leaves that grow more loosely around each other. Some varieties have smooth leaves and some have crinkled leaves. Their outer leaves are generally darker green than the inner leaves. Some varieties are dark purplish red and some are white. Among the varieties, savoy with green leaves, Napa, which has pale green to white leaves, red cabbage, and bok choy (Chinese cabbage) with white stems and dark green leaves. Cabbage is a good source of nutrients and contains a fair amount of soluble and insoluble fiber. When cooked, cabbage gives off a very pungent odor.

How to use: It can be used cooked or raw in dishes from corned beef and cabbage, soups & stews, to cold dishes such as coleslaw. Another popular use of cabbage is to allow it to ferment to produce sauerkraut. Cabbage leaves are also used as a wrap for other foods.

How to buy: When selecting, choose only the heads that are compact and firm. They should have fresh, crispy leaves that do not contain any markings or browning, which may be an indication of worm damage. The head should only contain a few loose outer leaves. The coloring of the leaves should reflect the variety you are purchasing. In general, the darker green the leaves the more flavor they have. The stem should be trimmed and look fresh, not dry and cracked. Avoid purchasing precut or shredded cabbage. Once the cabbage is cut it begins to lose its vitamin C content, even if it is tightly packaged or well wrapped.

Storage: Store the cabbage uncut to prevent vitamin C loss. Place the uncut head in a perforated plastic bag and store up to two weeks in the refrigerator crisper drawer. If the cabbage is cut, wrap the remainder of the head tightly in plastic wrap but use within a couple of days.