Which Part Of A Plant Is Cabbage And Which Parts Can We Eat?

You cannot help but admire the magnificent cabbage plant, with its robust leaves and unique texture. However, a lack of understanding of how to cook and consume this vegetable can prove to be a challenge for many keen chefs and home gardeners.

Cabbage forms the head of the plant, and it is made up of densely packed leaves. The vegetative bud is the edible part of the cabbage, consisting of the leaves and stem. This cruciferous vegetable is extremely nutritious, versatile, and affordable.

Would you like to grow or include more cabbage in your diet but don’t know which parts are edible? Not to mention the best way to prepare this peculiar vegetable? Keep reading to discover how you can make the most of the humble cabbage!

Which Part Of Cabbage Plant Do We Eat?

You can eat the whole of the cabbage head:

  • Inner leaves
  • Outer leaves
  • Core
  • Stem (less common)

The edible part of the cabbage plant is called the vegetative bud, which includes a dense head of tightly packed leaves and the stem. You can eat the whole cabbage head, but the most common is the inner and outer leaves as they have the best taste and texture. Often the ribs/stalks of the leaves are cut out to leave the tender part of the leaf.

Taste and texture-wise, the cabbage’s outer leaves, core, and ribs are tough yet edible if prepared correctly. There is a wider demand for the inner cabbage leaves since they are usually more tender and sweet. The very inner leaves can start to get bitter.

Want to get more cabbage in your diet? Check out my post 8 Ways To Eat Raw Cabbage – that you’ll actually enjoy.

Inside a Savoy cabbage

Can You Eat The Stem Of A Cabbage?

You can eat the cabbage core and stem which are highly nutritious and refreshingly crunchy. When consumed raw, the stem will have a slightly bitter flavor, similar to radish.

The stem of cabbage is similar to a broccoli stem and doesn’t need to be discarded if prepared well. Thinly slice or shred raw cabbage stems to make a salad or add to coleslaw for extra crunch. This can be a much better way to avoid too much waste.

Cooked cabbage stems are tender, with a mild and slightly sweet taste: 

  • Slice stems into fine matchsticks and add to a stir-fry or curry to boost flavor and texture.
  • Roughly chop the stems or core and roast with olive oil and your favorite blend of spices. Enjoy as a nutritious side dish with some dips.
  • Quick-pickled the stems like any other part of the cabbage.

What Can I Do With Outer Cabbage Leaves?

Next time, hold onto those tough outer leaves. Aside from their great taste, they are also an excellent source of fiber and vitamins A, B, and C. Ensure to wash the leaves thoroughly before preparing.

Ferment the outer leaves to make sauerkraut or kimchi

This can be used to enhance the flavor and nutrition of most dishes.

Fermented Food Lab shares 20 different ways to enjoy sauerkraut

Finely shred the leaves and sauté or add to stir-fries.

Try out this simple yet satisfying Spicy Outer Cabbage Leaves dish by Hiroko’s Recipes

Stuffed cabbage rolls

The outer leaves are fantastic to use when making stuffed cabbage rolls. Once cooked, they maintain their texture and provide a strong seal for the filling.

This authentic Lebanese Stuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe by Feel Good Foodie is comforting and totally drool-worthy!

The cabbage leaves are filled with a mixture of rice, ground beef, and warm spices. They are left to cook in a rich tomato and garlic sauce and served with a generous squeeze of lemon. Yum!

Is Cabbage A Flower?

Cabbage is not a flower but rather a leafy vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, including broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. There are several varieties of cabbage, including green, white, purple, or red. Each variety has a unique taste, appearance, and nutritional profile.

The tightly-packed cabbage head consists of smooth, succulent leaves. If the cabbage head is not harvested once it reaches full maturity, the cabbage will bolt and produce small yellow flowers, marking the end of the plant’s life.

Can You Use All Of A Cabbage?

You can use the entire cabbage – inner leaves, outer leaves, core, and stem. The preparation and cooking method will vary for each component due to differences in taste and texture. 

Raw cabbage has a slightly bitter and peppery taste, with a tough and crunchy texture. Cooked cabbage is tender and sweet but still retains its crunch.

Raw, shredded cabbage will add color and crunch to salads, wraps, burgers, sandwiches, or nourish bowls. Cooked cabbage makes a tasty and wholesome addition to stir-fries, noodles, curries, and pasta.

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Cabbage?

Regular consumption of cabbage may reduce inflammation, enhance bone health and digestion, boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease. Cabbage is rich in fiber, potassium, antioxidants, Vitamins A, B, C, and K.

Have a look at organicfacts.net for a full rundown on all the amazing health benefits of cabbage.

Why Is Cabbage So Cheap?

Cabbage’s affordability is largely the result of the plant’s resilience and shelf life. It is easy to grow all year round and lasts a long time once picked.

Dubbed the unsung hero of the Brassica family, the incredible health benefits and versatility of cabbage often go unnoticed. People tend to ignore this humble veggie in the produce aisle because it isn’t as exotic or celebrated as its cruciferous cousins.

Even though cabbage is a cool-season vegetable, it can adapt to a variety of conditions. As a result, this hardy vegetable is cultivated and widely available all year round, resulting in a constant supply.

Cabbage has a remarkably long shelf-life. With appropriate storage, a whole head of cabbage can last for about two months in the refrigerator!

Top Tips For Preparing Cabbage

  • Always clean the cabbage before cooking. Rinse under running water or soak in saltwater for 10-15 minutes.
  • Keep in mind that cabbage shrinks once cooked, so you may need to use double the amount for certain recipes.
  • Avoid overcooking cabbage as this will give it an unpleasant smell and texture.
  • Red or purple cabbage varieties have the most antioxidants but tend to be less tender. 
  • Savoy cabbage is the most tender and sweet variety.
  • You can easily sneak a handful of shredded cabbage into most dishes, such as soups, stews, pasta, casseroles, and stir-fries. It will add amazing texture and a boost of nutrition without overpowering the meal.
  • Head on over to BBC Good Food for a comprehensive guide on how to cook cabbage in a variety of ways.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, now you know which part of the plant a cabbage is and which parts you can eat. Frugal, versatile, delicious, and packed with goodness, cabbage is worthy of recognition and more appearances on your dinner plate! Since the entire cabbage is edible, you can reduce food waste while making the most of this great vegetable.

Have any questions? Ask me in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.

Tom Hambly

Tom Hambly is the founder of Boss The Kitchen. With a background in cooking and building websites, he enjoys running this site to help other cooks improve. About Tom Hambly.

One thought on “Which Part Of A Plant Is Cabbage And Which Parts Can We Eat?

  1. This was very informative. I was not aware you can eat the wholesome cabbage. I just harvested some red cabbage leaves and before throwing them in the compost pile I thought I’d ask if they were edible. Thank you for standing in the gap with so much information.
    Thanks again

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