What is red cabbage?

Crispy red cabbage can be added to a green salad.

Red cabbage is a ripe cabbage with a strong, peppery flavor and tough leaves. Its color is a response to different acids and bases, and it turns blue or purple after preparation. Red cabbage is also known as blue kraut or red kraut. It is commonly used for coleslaw and salads, and is popularly used as an alternative to green cabbage to add color and presentation to salads and cooked dishes.

A head of red cabbage is rich in fiber and vitamin C and can make many nutritious meals and snacks. Red cabbage is best prepared with a short cooking time, before it starts to smell too much, and is best prepared in stainless steel pots or pans. A medium-sized head of cabbage will serve nearly nine servings, cooked or raw, and can be served in a variety of dishes, from coleslaw and salads to other more adventurous cooked variations. It can be served as a side dish or starter, pickled or boiled, or just as a small, colorful garnish to a well-prepared meal.

The red color of cabbage, when prepared incorrectly, can take on different colors. These color changes are due to the pigments in the soil where the cabbage was harvested and the pH value of the soil. The most common discoloration is an ugly bluish-gray color, although alkaline soil will produce a greenish-yellow cabbage. To avoid color changes, red cabbage must be cooked with vinegar or other acidic products. Stainless steel cookware should also be used to prevent color changes during cooking.

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Red cabbage takes about 70-75 days to harvest, similar to the time period of a green cabbage, but faster than a savoy cabbage. Red meteor red cabbage takes 75 days, harvests firm, and is good for all seasons. Ruby ball cabbage is harvested much larger, is resistant to heat and cold and takes time to burst. Red cabbage is generally smaller and denser than green cabbage.

Red cabbage should be harvested in well-fertilized soil in late winter or early spring. Cabbage is usually planted almost a month before the last frost of the year. The pot of a red cabbage should allow movement and penetration of water and requires a frequent watering diet, although it is an easy plant to care for. They are planted about 1-2 feet (about 30-60 cm) apart and thrive in moist environments.

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