CHEW ON THIS: THE ALL-CONQUERING CABBAGE

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By Niel Vaughan

Cold crisp winter mornings mean it’s Brassica season. The Brassica family are a bunch of global culinary all-stars including brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, Asian greens like bok choy, daikon, turnips
and kale.

But the family’s high achiever has to be the humble cabbage. Packed with Vitamin C and K1, folate, calcium and potential anticancer phytochemicals called glucosinolates (bringing on the bitterness), not to mention the kind of dietary fibre our gut bacteria loves. Few veggies are as versatile. Cabbage is eaten every which way humans consume food: raw, fried, steamed, boiled, stewed, pickled, sautéed, braised, pickled and fermented.

Although Rameses III used the word shaw’t for cabbage, the ancient Egyptians didn’t cultivate it along the Nile. The ancient Romans swore by cabbage juice as prevention for drunkenness, as well as a hangover cure in case one forgot to imbibe before an alcoholic binge session. And in the heat of WW1, the cooling properties of cabbage leaves remedied trench foot as the world remade itself into the shapes we know it today. Mothers rejoice! Scientific studies confirm that cabbage leaves can reduce the discomfort of milk-engorged breasts and swollen feet, and even increase the flow of breast-milk.

The historical, agricultural and scientific focus on the humble cabbage has without a doubt enriched our lives. Today, cabbage remains a consistent staple on the dinner tables throughout the world.

So why not find yourself a veggie patch, a farmers’ market or a local grocer, take the time to pick the perfect head of cabbage, chop it up, massage the leaves with salt, and jam it tightly into a jar. And voila – homemade remedy that tastes like a story.

Easy peasy.

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