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How to Store Cabbage: Expert Tips for Home Gardeners

Published: 09.04.2023

Learn how to store cabbage from the garden and keep it fresh for longer with our expert tips. Discover the best ways to store cabbage in the fridge, pantry, cellar, or root cellar and how to preserve it for future use.

How to Store Cabbage from the Garden

Harvesting Cabbage for Storage

Cabbage is a cool-season crop that can be harvested in the late fall or early winter. It is important to wait until the cabbage head is firm before harvesting. To harvest the cabbage, cut the head from the stem, leaving a few of the outer leaves attached. Be sure to use a sharp knife to prevent damage to the head. If you are not planning on storing the cabbage immediately, store it in a cool, shaded place until you are ready to prepare it for storage.

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Preparing Cabbage for Storage

Before storing cabbage, it is important to remove any damaged or wilted leaves. Remove the outer leaves until you are left with only the firm, healthy leaves that are tightly wrapped around the head. Next, rinse the cabbage under cold water and dry it thoroughly with a clean towel. Once the cabbage is dry, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent moisture from entering.

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Storing Cabbage in a Cool, Dry Place

To store cabbage, place it in a cool, dry place such as a root cellar or refrigerator. The ideal temperature for storing cabbage is between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are storing cabbage in a root cellar, be sure to keep it away from other produce that gives off ethylene gas, such as apples and pears. This gas can cause the cabbage to spoil more quickly.

If you do not have access to a root cellar or refrigerator, you can still store cabbage in a cool, dry place in your home. A basement or garage can work well as long as the temperature stays consistent and does not fluctuate too much.

Keeping Cabbage Fresh for Longer

Removing Outer Leaves

One of the first steps to keeping cabbage fresh for longer is to remove any outer leaves that may be damaged or wilted. These leaves can harbor bacteria and mold, which can cause the rest of the cabbage to spoil quickly. Gently peel off any damaged outer leaves and discard them before storing the cabbage.

Wrapping Cabbage in Paper or Plastic

After removing any damaged outer leaves, the next step is to wrap the cabbage in paper or plastic. This will help to protect it from moisture and prevent it from drying out. You can use plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or even a plastic bag to wrap the cabbage. Make sure that the wrapping is tight and secure, so that air cannot get in and cause the cabbage to spoil.

Storing Cabbage in a Moist Environment

Cabbage likes to be stored in a cool and moist environment, so it is important to keep it away from heat and direct sunlight. The ideal temperature for storing cabbage is between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a root cellar or a cool basement, this would be an ideal place to store your cabbage. You can also store it in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. To keep the cabbage moist, you can place a damp paper towel or cloth over it before wrapping it in paper or plastic.

By following these simple tips, you can extend the life of your cabbage and enjoy it for longer. Remember to remove any damaged outer leaves, wrap it tightly in paper or plastic, and store it in a cool and moist environment. With a little bit of care and attention, your cabbage will stay fresh and delicious for weeks to come.

Best Ways to Store Cabbage in the Fridge

Storing Cabbage in the Crisper Drawer

One of the best ways to store cabbage in the fridge is by keeping it in the crisper drawer. This is because the crisper drawer is designed to maintain humidity levels, which helps keep cabbage fresh for a longer time. To store cabbage in the crisper drawer, wrap it in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag. Make sure to remove any excess air before sealing the bag. This will help create a microclimate that mimics the ideal conditions for storing cabbage.

Using a Plastic Bag or Container

Another way to store cabbage in the fridge is by using a plastic bag or container. If you don't have a crisper drawer, this is a good alternative. Simply place the cabbage in a plastic bag or container and seal it tightly. You can also add a damp paper towel to the bag or container to help maintain humidity levels. Make sure to remove any excess air before sealing the bag or container.

Keeping Cabbage Away from Fruits and Vegetables that Produce Ethylene Gas

Cabbage is sensitive to ethylene gas, which is produced naturally by some fruits and vegetables. Ethylene gas can cause cabbage to spoil faster and lose its crispness. To prevent this, keep cabbage away from fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas, such as apples, bananas, and tomatoes. If possible, store cabbage on its own in a separate drawer or section of the fridge.

How to Preserve Cabbage in the Pantry

Pickling Cabbage

Pickling cabbage is a great way to preserve it for later use. Start by washing the cabbage and cutting it into thin strips. Then, make a pickling solution by boiling water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and any desired spices. Pack the cabbage tightly into jars and pour the pickling solution over it, leaving about half an inch of headspace. Seal the jars and store them in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks before opening.

Fermenting Cabbage

Fermenting cabbage is another popular method of preservation. The process of lacto-fermentation naturally preserves the cabbage while also adding beneficial probiotics to your diet. To ferment cabbage, shred it finely and mix with salt in a large bowl. Press the cabbage down firmly until it starts to release its juices. Pack the cabbage and its juice tightly into a jar and cover it with a lid or cloth. Let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 weeks, depending on your desired level of fermentation.

Freezing Cabbage

Freezing cabbage is an easy way to preserve it for later use while maintaining its texture and flavor. Start by washing and chopping the cabbage into bite-sized pieces. Blanch the cabbage in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then immediately transfer it to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, drain the excess water and pack the cabbage into freezer bags or containers. Label and date the bags before storing them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Storing Cabbage in the Cellar or Root Cellar

Preparing the Cellar for Cabbage Storage

Before storing cabbage in the cellar or root cellar, you need to prepare the storage area. The temperature should be between 32-40°F, and the humidity level should be around 90%. The ideal conditions help to slow down the aging process and prevent the cabbage from wilting.

Clean the storage area before storing the cabbage. Sweep or vacuum the floor and wipe down shelves with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris. Ensure that there is good ventilation in the storage area. If your cellar is damp, use a dehumidifier to prevent mold growth.

Storing Cabbage in Bins or Crates

To store cabbage in the cellar, you can use bins or crates made of wood or plastic. Line the bottom of the container with newspaper or a layer of straw to absorb moisture. Place the cabbage heads into the container, leaving some space between them. Cover the cabbage with another layer of straw or newspaper to keep them cool and dry.

Stacking cabbage heads on top of each other may cause damage or bruising. To avoid this, it's best to store them individually in containers.

Checking Cabbage for Spoilage

Check your cabbage regularly for signs of spoilage. Inspect for soft spots, brown or black patches, and mold growth. Remove any spoiled cabbage immediately to prevent it from spreading to other heads.

Cabbage can last up to six months in proper storage conditions. However, it's best to consume it within two months for optimal freshness and flavor.

How to Store Cabbage Long Term

Drying Cabbage Leaves

One way to store cabbage for the long term is by drying its leaves. To do this, remove any damaged outer leaves from the head of cabbage and cut it into quarters or wedges. Then, blanch the cabbage by boiling it in a pot of water for about 90 seconds. After blanching, immediately transfer the cabbage to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Once cooled, remove any excess water from the cabbage and lay the leaves out on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in a warm, dry area with good air circulation for several days until the leaves are completely dry and brittle. Once dried, store the cabbage leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Making Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is another popular way to preserve cabbage for an extended period of time. To make sauerkraut, finely shred a head of cabbage and mix it with salt. Pack the mixture into a jar or crock, making sure to press down firmly so that there are no air pockets. Cover the jar or crock with a clean cloth and let it sit at room temperature for several days.

During this time, lactic acid bacteria will naturally ferment the cabbage, turning it into sauerkraut. After about a week, taste the sauerkraut to see if it has reached your desired level of sourness. Once ready, transfer the sauerkraut to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place.

Canning Cabbage

Finally, you can also store cabbage long term by canning it. Start by removing any damaged outer leaves from the head of cabbage and cutting it into quarters or wedges. Then blanch the cabbage by boiling it in a pot of water for about 90 seconds. After blanching, immediately transfer the cabbage to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Next, pack the cabbage into sterilized jars and cover it with boiling water, leaving about 1 inch of headspace. Add salt or vinegar to the jars if desired. Place the jars in a canner and process them according to the instructions for your altitude and jar size.

Once canned, store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Before eating, make sure to check the jars for any signs of spoilage, such as bulging lids or off smells. If you notice any issues, discard the cabbage immediately.

How Long Do Cabbage Last in the Fridge?

How to Tell if Cabbage is Bad

Cabbage is a versatile and nutrient-rich vegetable that can be stored in the fridge for an extended period. However, it's essential to check for signs of spoilage before using it. One of the most obvious signs that cabbage has gone bad is a soft and mushy texture. If the leaves are wilted or discolored, it's best to discard the cabbage. Another way to tell if cabbage is bad is to smell it. If it has an unpleasant odor, it's time to throw it away.

Signs of Spoilage in Cabbage

There are a few other signs of spoilage that you should look out for when storing cabbage. These include brown spots or mold growth on the leaves. If you notice any of these signs, discard the cabbage immediately as it could be harmful to consume. It's also essential to inspect the cabbage thoroughly before cutting into it. If you notice any slimy or discolored parts, it's best to cut them off and use the remaining parts.

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Safe Storage Times for Cabbage

Cabbage can last for several weeks in the fridge if stored correctly. To store cabbage, wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in a plastic bag and seal it tightly. This will help keep it fresh by preventing moisture from getting inside. You can also store cut cabbage in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. It's important to note that storing cabbage for too long can cause it to lose its nutritional value and flavor.

Final Tips for Storing Cabbage

Labeling and Dating Cabbage for Storage

When storing cabbage, it's important to label and date each head. This will help you keep track of how long the cabbage has been stored and ensure that you use the oldest cabbage first. Use a permanent marker to write the date on the cabbage before storing it in a cool, dry place. If you are storing multiple heads of cabbage, consider using different color markers to differentiate between them.

Using Cabbage in Different Recipes

Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of recipes. From coleslaw to stir-fry, there are endless ways to incorporate cabbage into your meals. One of my favorite recipes is stuffed cabbage rolls. Simply boil the cabbage leaves until they are soft, fill them with a mixture of ground beef, rice, and seasonings, and bake in the oven until they are cooked through. Another great recipe is sauteed cabbage with bacon. Cook chopped bacon in a skillet until it is crispy, then add sliced cabbage and cook until it is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sharing Cabbage with Friends and Family

If you have an abundance of cabbage from your garden, consider sharing it with friends and family. Not only will this help reduce food waste, but it will also allow you to share the fruits of your labor with others. You can give away whole heads of cabbage or use it as an ingredient in homemade gifts such as pickled vegetables or sauerkraut. Sharing your garden harvest is a great way to connect with others and spread joy.

Author: Michael Chen
Bio: I'm gardening specialist with a mission to empower people to grow their own fruits and vegetables. With my background in Plant Science from the University of California and experience working with farmers and community gardens, I'm dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture practices and helping individuals achieve bountiful harvests. Let's get growing!