Ew — that smell. You know what I’m saying?
When someone is boiling it, you definitely know it. Which is part of why cabbage has a bit of an image problem. Blame the rest on Hollywood.
Remember “Willy Wonka & and the Chocolate Factory?” In the memorable early scenes, cabbage is seen as a drab, flavorless food, which the Bucket family has to eat every day because they can’t afford anything else.
“I feel like I’ve eaten nothing but cabbage soup forever,” Grandpa George says.
Charlie chimes in as well, more frustrated: “I’m fed up with cabbage water,” he says. “It’s not enough!”
So, yeah – cabbage occasionally gets a bad rap.
But in reality, cabbage is not only good for you, it’s also quite good.
But first – let’s address the smell:
That pungent odor is caused by sulfur compounds found in the cabbage. When boiled or simmered for an extended period, sulfur compounds in the cabbage are converted into pungent molecules that leave your house smelling like dirty socks.
But fear not – you can have cabbage and a house that doesn’t smell like cabbage. As this story notes, you can avoid Cabbage Smell by quick cooking, steaming and simmering with apple juice.
Cabbage is pretty versatile. It can be cooked with onions in a bath of butter. Stir fried with ginger and apples for a side dish to roast fish, chicken and pork. Sauteed to fillings for pastries, potpies and shepherd’s pie.
And, you know what? Don’t let Willy Wonka turn you off the soup idea — as long as it’s not just “cabbage water.” If you add cooked cabbage to minestrone, bean or vegetable soup right before serving, it makes for a tasty addition that even Charlie Bucket would appreciate.
Cabbage is officially in season! Check out your local farmers’ market for the freshest cabbage available.