< Vegetables



The cabbage has ever been distinguished from other members of the Cole family by its firm heard; its name derived from the Latin term for head, caput. Classical mythology explained the genesis of the plant in an allegory in which Zeus, sweating from the exertion of explaining contradictory proclamations, had droplets coalesce into cabbages. If it was created by the sweat of a God, it was sustained by the sweat of humankind, for the culture of the cabbage requires substantial effort.[1] The ancient Romans revered the vegetable for its health-giving qualities, and claimed their ancestors used it in lieu of medicine when they expelled all physicians from their city. The philosopher and dietician, Pythagorus, composed a now lost book on the plant,[2] as did the Roman agriculturist, Cato. The surviving classical writings repeatedly testify to its popularity, its nutritional benefit, and its palatability. Consumed raw, it counteracted the stupefactions of wine. Cooked, it prevented head-ache, sharpened eyesight, and aided digestion.[3] Every locale in the ancient Mediterranean sported its own variety—curled, tall, ground-hugging, dwarf, huge. The Romans brought several forms of the vegetable to England during their occupation. Its variability of type continued through the centuries. The English Renaissance herbalist, Gerard, noted the white, red, curled, and ‘Savoie’ in cultivation, and the presence of the curdled Savoy as a specimen plant. At the end of the 18th century the favorite English cabbages were Battersea, early Dwarf, York, imperial Penton, Sugar-loaf, Drum-head, red Dutch, Savoy, purple Turnip, green Savoy and yellow Savoy. Americans also cultivated several kinds of German cabbages, including the huge forty-pound head.[4]

In antebellum America market gardeners attempted to make cabbage a year round vegetable. To do this, they had to import seed for the early season varieties from England, “as the seed of the early varieties, saved in this country grow later by our culture, soil and climate.” Demand for cabbages never flagged, for besides being a favorite item of human consumption, it fed cows and pigs. The Red Dutch cabbage enjoyed brisk sales and wide cultivation for pickling. In northern climates where winter crop cabbages could not be grown outside of greenhouses, preservation of autumn crops proved a ticklish problem, particularly because putrid cabbage had a noxious odor. William Cobbett recommended bedding heads, root up, loosely in straw. Pickling also preserved that portion of a crop meant for human consumption, with kegs of sauerkraut stocking winter larders.

Growing cabbages required much labor. Invariably cultivators planted seeds in germination beds and transplanted the strongest plants into the field. Soil had to be well plowed, salted to counteract root maggots and cutworm, and frequently hoed. It prospered when intercropped with other greens. European farming tradition held that it harmed grape vines, so cabbages never grew near vineyards. Because of genetic cross-pollination, cabbages and turnips intended to supply seed would never be bedded close to one another. Market gardeners who serviced high end culinary clients often blanched the head by folding over the broad outer leaves to protect it from the sun. Insects troubled cabbage beds terribly, and a host of farmer nostrums were tried, including regular sprinklings of tobacco tea and Pride of China berry juice. If farmers grew giant headed cabbages a sacrifice leaf would be plucked and laid over the head at night. The green worms would attack this leaf instead of the head, and the field hands drowned the worms in soapsuds every morning.

While nurserymen and experimental gardeners developed varieties boasting a profusion of qualities over the 19th century, certain types retained durable reputations as fine culinary cabbages: the Early York, the Early Flat Dutch, the Marblehead, the Green Globe Savoy, and the American Savoy. Resistance to insects made the Green Glazed cabbage a favorite in some areas.

Henry Phillips, History of Cultivated Vegetables 2 Vols (London: Henry Colburn & Co., 1822), 1:92. Pliny, Nat. Hist. 24.158 Marcus Cato [Cato the Elder], De Agricultura (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Loeb Classical Library, 1934), chapters 156-157. See the list of varieties gleaned from the Virginia Gazette by the researchers at Colonial Williamsburg: http://www.history.org/history/CWLand/resrch3.cfm William N. White, Gardening for the South; or the Kitchen & Fruit Garden (New York: C. M. Saxton, 1857), p. 162. William Cobbett, The American Gardener (London: C. Clement, 1821), [p. 148].

1. Henry Phillips, History of Cultivated Vegetables 2 Vols (London: Henry Colburn & Co., 1822), 1:92.
2. Pliny, Nat. Hist. 24.158
3. Marcus Cato [Cato the Elder], De Agricultura (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Loeb Classical Library, 1934), chapters 156-157.
4. See the list of varieties gleaned from the Virginia Gazette by the researchers at Colonial Williamsburg: http://www.history.org/history/CWLand/resrch3.cfm
5. William N. White, Gardening for the South; or the Kitchen & Fruit Garden (New York: C. M. Saxton, 1857), p. 162.
6. William Cobbett, The American Gardener (London: C. Clement, 1821), [p. 148].

Burnell’s King of the Dwarfs    History

Claimed by Mr. Burnell to be the earliest Cabbage grown, but others claim it is identical with Carter’s Superfine Early Dwarf.

Carter’s Superfine Early Dwarf    History

of fine flavor and quality

Dwarf Green Curled Savoy    History

heads small and rather loose, very hardy and excellent; plants may be set 18 inches apart.

Dwarf Green Leaved Savoy    History

leaves wrinkled and dark green; heads round, of a medium size, loose, tender, rich, agreeable flavor, excellent for cooking.

Early Dwarf Ulm Savoy    History

heads round and very solid, and of fine quality; forms its heads very early; Leaves wrinkled, of a fine, deep green color; heads small, tender, finely flavor.

Early Dwarf York    History

small, very early

Little Pixie, or Tom Thumb    History

very early, small, and of delicate flavor

Early Blood Red    History

fine early variety; will make fine winter Cabbage, if sown quite late in the open ground. Sow seed about the middle of May.

Early Flat Dutch    History

largely grown in the vicinity of New York, but also a favorite in the Southern states.

Early Large York    History

about ten days later than the Early York; larger and more robust; a desirable Variety for the South.

Early Schweinfurth    History

an early Cabbage, for summer and autumn use, and of large size.

Early Wakefield (“True Jersey”)    History

the great favorite with market gardeners for the New York market.

Early Wyman    History

a new early variety (as of 1871), popular with Boston-area market gardeners as one of the best and most profitable of the early sort.

Enfield Market    History

fine, large, compact head; very early and superior

Fearnaught    History

a new English Cabbage, said to be the earliest known, and in competition with the American Wakefield in that country, to have excelled this celebrated variety for earliness.

Fottler’s Improved Brunswick    History

an excellent second early variety of Drumhead; comes in just after Early Wyman; popular among market gardeners of Boston area; head often weighs between 20 to 30 lbs.

Kemp’s Incomparable    History

very early, heads are cone-shaped, close, hard; sure to head, most desirable.

Newark Early Flat Dutch    History

one of the best early summer Cabbages in cultivation, producing large, compact heads of excellent quality. Very fine grained, even, and certain heading.

Sugar-loaf    History

a very good early variety, with a conical or sugar-loaf shaped head; a great favorite with many.

Vilmorin’s Early Flat Dutch    History

the French strain of the Early Flat Dutch, the heads being rounder and harder than in the strains of this early cabbage as grown in the U.S.

Wheeler’s Imperial    History

This is the best early variety we (James Vick Seeds) have ever tried.

Chappell’s Red Pickling    History

new (1871), of brighter color and more true to the kind than any other variety of red or pickling Cabbage; fine for salads, too.

Erfurt Large White    History

excellent, flattish, compact, tender; a new variety (as of 1871).

Filderkraut    History

This is comparatively new, but has become the general “crout,” or “kraut” of Germany. I (James Vick) import the seed directly from Stuttgart, where it originated.

Fine Large Red Dutch    History

an old favorite; heads large, roundish and solid. Excellent for salad & pickling.

Green Glazed    History

a favorite Southern variety; said to resist insects best of any.

Henderson’s Early Summer    History

This new (as of 1880) Cabbage is much larger than the Early Wakefield, though not quite as early; increasingly popular among the market gardeners, as a second early.

Large French Oxheart    History

a fine heart-shaped Cabbage, coming in use after Early York, and other of

Large Late Blood Red    History

pure; for pickling.

Large York    History

round head, good summer and fall sort

Robinson’s Champion Ox    History

one of the largest grown, sometimes weighing up to 60 lbs. A cattle variety.

Silver-Leaf Drumhead    History

prized among the market gardeners around New York; a late cropper and is considered the best shipping and market kind; very solid head, seldom bursts open when ripe, and is an excellent keeper.

St. John’s Day    History

heads round, compact and of dark green color; a splendid English variety.

Stone-Mason Cabbage    History

distinguished for its reliability for heading, the size, hardness and quality of the heads. Under proper cultivation nearly every plant on an acre will make a marketable head. Heads vary in weight from nine to over twenty pounds. In earliness this variety is upward of a week ahead of the Premium Flat Dutch and makes a hardy head.

Winningstadt    History

a fine tender variety, sugar-loaf in form; one of the best summer sorts; but if sown late, makes a good fall or even winter Cabbage.

Drumhead Savoy    History

one of the very best winter Cabbages; leaves wrinkled, dark green, heads tender and rich.

Flat Brunswick Drumhead    History

fine, late winter variety.

Large Flat Dutch    History

good for fall or winter crop, resembling the Drumhead.

Large Late Drumhead    History

a very superior drumhead variety, grown from choice heads; fall and winter.

Marblehead Mammoth    History

an excellent, very large winter Cabbage; heads freely, and with good soil will grow to an enormous size. Writes James J.H. Gregory in his Seed Circular and Retail Catalogue, 1880: “This [the Marblehead Mammoth] is without doubt the largest variety of the Cabbage family in the world, being the result of extreme high culture. I have had heads, when stripped of all waste leaves, that could not be got into a two-bushel basket, having a diameter two inches greater! In a former circular I quoted from persons residing in fourteen States and Territories, and also in the Canadas, East and West, expressing their great satisfaction with the Stone-Mason and the Marblehead Mammoth Cabbages, in their great reliability for heading, the size, sweetness and tenderness of the heads. They had succeeded in growing the Mammoth to the weight of thirty and forty pounds, and in some instances over fifty pounds!”

Mason’s Premium Drumhead    History

imported, fine winter variety.

Premium Flat Dutch    History

heads well and keeps over finely; a superior variety for fall and winter use; heads large, bluish-green, solid, flattish, crisp, tender, excellent flavor; will make large, marketable heads of very uniform shape and size.

Premium Flat Dutch    History

heads well and keeps over finely; a superior variety for fall and winter use; heads large, bluish-green, solid, flattish, crisp, tender, excellent flavor; will make large, marketable heads of very uniform shape and size.

To Boil a Cabbage (American Cookery 1793)    History

If your cabbage is large, cut it into quarters if small, cut it in halvels; let your water boil, then put in a little salt; and next your cabbage with a little more salt upon it; make your water boil as soon as possible, and when the stalk is tender, take up your cabbage into a cullender, or sieve, that the water may drain off, and send it to table as hot as you can. Savoys are dressed in the same manner.

Boiled Cabbage (Southern Planter 1854)    History

There are more ways to cook a fine cabbage than to boil it with a bacon side, and yet few seem to comprehend, that there can be any loss in cooking it, even in this simple way. Two-thirds of the cooks place cabbage in cold water, and start it to boiling, this extracts all the best juices, and makes the pot liquor a soup. The cabbage head, after having been washed and quartered, should be dropped into boiling water, with no more meat than will just season it. Cabbage may be cooked to equal broccoli or cauliflower. Take a firm sweet head, cut it into shreds, lay it in salt and water for six hours. Now place it in boiling water, until it becomes tender—turn the water off, and add sweet milk when thoroughly done, take up a colander and drain. Now season with butter and pepper, with a glass of good wine and a little nutmeg grated over, and you have a dish little resembling what are generally called greens.

Stewed Cabbage 1 (American Domestic Cookery 1823)    History

Shred the cabbage, wash it; and put it over a slow fire, with slices of onion, pepper, and salt, and a litte plain gravy. When quite tender and a few minutes before serving, add a bit of butter rubbed with flour, and two or three spoonfuls of vinegar, and boil up.

Stewed Cabbage 2 (American Domestic Cookery 1823)    History

Cut the cabbage very thin; and put it into the stew-pan with a small slice of ham, and half an ounce of butter, at the bottom, half a pint of broth, and a gill of vinegar. Let it stew, covered three hours. When it is very tender, add a little more broth, salt pepper, and a table-spoonful of pounded sugar. Mix these well and boil them till the liquor is wasted; then put it into the dish, and lay fried sausages on it.

Red Cabbage (United States Cook Book 1859)    History

Cut up some red cabbage, as if for sour kraut, pour over it some vinegar and some rich soup-stock, season it with salt and pepper, and boil it slowly for three or four hours. Half an hour before dishing, stir in with the cabbage an onion, cut fine, and friend in butter, with some flour, to a yellow colour, and just before dishing, pour over it some red wine. The addition of a little sugar to the red cabbage is liked by many.

Cabbage a-la-Crème (Virginia Housewife 1838)    History

Take two good heads of cabbage, cut out the stalks, boil it tender, with a little salt in the water,--have ready one large spoonful of butter, and a small one of flour rubbed into it, half a pink of milk, with pepper and salt; make it put, put the cabbage in after pressing out the water, and stew it till quite tender.

Bacon and Cabbage (Common Sense in the Household 1874)    History

This, I need hardly say, is a favorite country dish at the South. The 0ld-fashioned way of preparing it was to boil meat and cabbage together, and serve, reeking with fat, the cabbage, in quarters, soaking yet more of the essence from the ham or middling about which it lay. In this shape it justly earned a reputation for grossness and indigestibility that banished it, in time, from many tables. Yet it is as a savory and not unwholesome article of food in winter, if the cabbage be boiled in two waters, the second being the “pot liquor” from the boiling meat. Drain thoroughly in a cullender, pressing out every drop of water that will flow, without breaking the tender leaves; and when the meat is dished, lay the cabbage neatly about it, and upon each quarter a slice of hard-boiled egg. When you eat, season with pepper, salt, and vinegar.

Kale Cannon [Kohl Cannon] (Widdifield’s Receipts for Cooking 1856)    History

Boil one dozen large potatoes, and one cabbage, separately. When done, put the cabbage in a colander, and press out all the water. Put it in a sauce-pan, pare the potatoes, and mash all together, with a quarter of a pound of butter, one girll of cream, pepper and salt to your taste. Put it on the range, stir well together for a few minutes, and serve hot. This is very nice to eat with cold meat.

Cabbage Pudding (Virginia Housewife 1838)    History

Get a fine head of cabbage, not too large; pour boiling water on, and cover it till you can turn the leaves back, which you must do carefully; take some of those in the middle of the head off, chop them fine, and mix them with rich forcemeat; put this in and replace the leaves to confine the stuffing—tie it in a cloth, and boil it—serve it up whole, with a little melted butter in the dish.

Cabbage Pudding (Housekeeping in Old Virginia 1879)    History

Boil nice, hard, white cabbage with good bacon. When thoroughly done, chop fine and add a large lump of butter, one teacup rich milk, three eggs beaten light, two tea-spoonfuls mixed mustard; pepper and salt to the taste. Pour in a buttered deep dish; put on top dusted pepper, bits of fresh butter, and grated cracker or stale bread. Bake a light brown.

Cabbage Force Maigre (Modern Domestic Cookery 1845)    History

Take fine white-heart cabbage, wash it clean, and boil it about five minutes. Then drain it, cut the stalk flat to stand in a dish, carefully open the leaves, and take out the inside, leaving the outside leaves whole. Cut what you take out very fine: then take the flesh of two or three flounders or plaice, and chop it with the cabbage, the yolks and whites of four eggs boiled hard, and a handful of picked parsley. Beat all together in a mortar with a quarter of a pound of melted butter. Then mix it up with the yolk of an egg, and a few crumbs of bread. Fill the cabbage with this, and tie it together: put it into a deep stewpan, with half a pint of water, a quarter of a pound of butter rolled in a little flour, the yolks of four eggs boiled hard, an onion stuck with six cloves, some whole pepper and mace tied in a piece of muslin, half an ounce of tuffles and morels, a spoonful of catsup, and a few pickled mushrooms. Cover it close, and let it simmer an hour. When it is done, take out the onion and spice, lay the cabbage in your dish, until it, pour over the sauce, and serve it to table.

Cabbage Jelly (Godey’s Lady’s Book Receipts 1870)    History

Boil cabbage in the usual way; squeeze it in a colander till dry, and chop very fine. Add a little butter, pepper, and salt. Press all loosely into an earth mould, and bake one hour. Turn out of the mould and serve.

Fried Cabbage (Buckeye Cookery 1877)    History

Cut the cabbage very fine, on a slaw cutter, if possible; salt and pepper, stir well, and let it stand five minutes. Have an iron kettle smoking hot, drop one table-spoon lard into it, then the cabbage, stirring briskly until tender; send to the table immediately. One half cup sweet cream, and three table-spoons vinegar—the vinegar to be added after the cream has been well stirred, and after it is taken from the stove, is and agreeable change. When properly done, an invalid or babe can eat it without injury, and there is no offensive odor from cooking it.

Cabbage Soup (Chadwick 1854)    History

Cut into quarters and boil in clear water, one or two heads of savoy cabbage; when tender drain the water off, and press all the water from them, then put them to as much beef-broth as will cover them, put it into a closely-covered stewpan over a moderate fire for two hours; then set on the fire a large frying pan with a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, shake some flour from a dredging-box into it and let it brown, still all the time, peel and cut up two onions, and stir it well about; as soon as they are nicely colored add it to the soup; soak some rolls or crackers in a quart of boiling milk or water, and add it to the soup. Mutton or veal broth may be used.

Cabbage Soup (What to Eat 1863)    History

Put in a kettle with two quarts and a half of water a pound of salted pork, some breast of mutton; also, if handy, the remains of a roasted piece; set on a slow fire, skim before it boils, and then boil for about an hour and a half; strain, to remove the small bones, if any; put back in the kettle broth and meat, also one middling sized cabbage, which you must have previously thrown in boiling water, and boiled ten minutes; add then, two carrots, one turnip, two leeks, half a head of celery, one onion, with a clove stuck in it, a little salt and pepper, and about half a pound of sausage (not smoked); then boil gently about two hours, strain the broth, pour it on croutons in the soup dish, and serve. The pork, mutton, and sausage, with the cabbage around, may be served on a dish after the soup at a family dinner, or kept for breakfast the next day.

Shaved Cabbage (Young Housekeeper’s Friend 1846)    History

Put a close hard head into fresh water in the morning; just before dinner, cut it open and shave it fine as possible with a sharp knife; dress it with vinegar, salt and pepper, and oil, if approved.

Coldslaw (Skilful Housewife’s Book 1852)    History

Select the hardest, firmest head of cabbage. Cut it in two, and shave it as fine as possible. A cabbage cutter is the best. It must be done evenly and nicely Lay it in a nice deep dish. Melt together vinegar, a small piece of butter, pepper, little salt. Let it scaled and pour over it. Hotslaw is made in the same manner, except it is laid in a sauce pan with the dressing, and just scalded, but not boiled. Send it to table hot.

Egg Slaw (Practical Housekeeper 1855)    History

Slaw your cabbage fine with a slaw-cutter. Lay it in your dish and prepare a dressing thus: two beaten eggs, half a pint of vinegar, salt and pepper, a teaspoonful of sugar; stir it until it boils, and then throw it over your cabbage and cover closely. Make it any time in the forenoon, standing does not injure it in the least.

French Slaw (National Cook Book 1856)    History

Shave the cabbage as for other slaw. To one pint of the cut cabbage, have three eggs boiled hard, mash the yolks with a spoon, and add gradually one wine glassful of oil, then pour in one wine glass of vinegar, one tea spoonful of common mustard, or a dessert spoonful of French mustard, salt and cayenne pepper to the taste. Pour the mixture over the cabbage, stir it well, and serve it.

Saur Kraut (American Agriculturist 1848)    History

Take as many drum-head cabbages, or any other kind having a firm head, as you wish to preserve, tear off the outer leaves, quarter them, cut out the stalks, and chop the remainder into small pieces by hand or with a machine. Then, to every one hundred pounds of cabbage take three pounds of salt, one-quarter pound of caraway seed, and two ounces of juniper berries, and mix them together in a dish or bowl. Then procure as many clean casks, strongly hooped with iron, as may be required, and fill t hem with layers of chopped cabbage, about three inches thick, sprinkling each layer, as it is pressed in, with the mixture of caraway seed, juniper betties and salt. When each cask is full, lay over it a coarse linen cloth and a wooden follower or lid, just fitting within the mouth of the cask, upon which must be placed a stone or weight sufficiently heavy to prevent it from rising, and allow it to ferment for a month. The cabbage produces a great deal of water, which floats around the sides of the casks to the top of the follower or lid. This must be poured off, and its place supplied with a solution of lukewarm warm water, whole black pepper and common salt, taking care that the cabbage is always covered with brine. In order to keep the kraut fresh and for a long time, the casks should be placed in a cool situation as soon as a sour smell is perceived.

Sour Krout with Pike (Cook’s Own Book 1840)    History

When the krout is boiled, clean a large pike, scrape and cut it into neat pieces, dip them into the beaten yolk of an egg, then into bread crumbs, and fry them of a nice brown; rub some butter upon a dish, and put into it a layer of krout, and some grated cheese, then a layer of pike and a little sour cream; then krout, and so on till the dish be full. On the top put some bits of butter, and some good broth or gravey; strew crumbs of bread thickly over it, and bake it half an hour.

Fine Pickled Cabbage (Southern Planter 1847)    History

Shred red and white cabbage, spread it in layers in a stone jar, with salt over each layer. Put two spoonfuls of whole black pepper, and the same quantity of allspice, cloves and cinnamon, in a bag, and scald them in two quarts of vinegar, and pour the vinegar over the cabbage and cover it tight. Use in two days after.

Boiled Cabbage Pickle (Queen of the Kitchen 1874)    History

1 peck of cabbage, cut in quarters, and put in layers with salt; let it stand 24 hours, and then drain off the salt and water; take 4 sliced onions, and put them with the cabbage into a kettle; cover them with vinegar, and let them boil for 1 hour. Then add 2 pounds of brown sugar, 2 ounces of turmeric, 1 ounce of mace, ½ ounce of cloves, 1 ounce of allspice, ½ tea-cup of ginger, 2 ounces of celery seed, 4 table-spoons of mustard seed. Then put it on the fire, and let it boil for another hour. After the pickle is made, add whole onions. This pickle will be ready for use in a day or two. It is equal to old yellow pickle, and requires little trouble in its preparation.

Chopped Cabbage Pickle (Queen of the Kitchen 1874)    History

2 gallons of cabbage, not chopped very fine, 5 table-spoons of mustard, 3 gills of mustard seed, 2 table-spoons of ground pepper, 2 of allspice, 2 of cloves, 1 gill of salt, 1 quart of onions, chopped fine, 1 ½ pounds of sugar, 3 quarts of vinegar, and a little turmeric. Boil them all until they are tender; stir frequently.