white cabbage (nam albus brassica)
origin of cabbage
Cabbage is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables known, consumed already by the Egyptians in 2,500 B.C. Although there is still no real evidence for the origin of Cabbage, it is very likely that they come from the coastal areas around the Mediterranean Sea.
The ancient Celtic tribes, of what is now Europe, played an important role in the distribution and popularisation of cabbage as a food plant and have influenced its Latin name, brassica, coming from the Celtic word "bresic", meaning "cabbage". It seems very probable that the Celts introduced the Cabbage to Europe, long before the Romans established an Empire. Hard-heading cabbages were developed in the cooler parts of Europe by the Celtic and Nordic peoples. But White Cabbage was apparently unknown in Europe until the time of Charlemagne (Karl der Große A.D. 747 - 814). Today White Cabbage is produced all over Europe, Asia and North & South America. The main consumers are Russia, Germany and Japan.
Although there is today a large variety of dishes and recipes containing White Cabbage, this vegetable was originally developed to produce "Sauerkraut". Germans are said to have developed Sauerkraut and many people think as one of the German attributes, that they are the "Sauerkraut Eaters". This thinking my have its origin coming from World War I & II, in which the German soldiers were called "Krauts" (especially by the British and American armed forces), because the German Reichswehr ration included large amounts of Sauerkraut, cooked and sealed in tins.
However, I think it necessary to shed some light on the claim that Sauerkraut is a purely German achievement and that every Sauerkraut eater is therefore automatically a member of the German community. Sauerkraut traditionally originates not from Germany but from Alsace. The Alsatians are descendants of the Alemanni tribe, that gave its name later to a whole people, because in France, Germans are called "Les Allemands”. It was the Alsatians who made Sauerkraut with sausage and bacon their national dish and whom the Germans have to thank today for Sauerkraut being one of their favourite dishes. Although the Germans took over Alsace from 1871 to 1918 and again from 1940 until 1945, today the region belongs to France, which has the highest per-capita consumption of fermented White Cabbage worldwide.
Sauerkraut contains a quite miraculous substance, called "lactic acid", which gives the cabbage its sour taste and preserves the cabbage for a long time. When lactic acid is present in sufficient concentration, decomposition bacteria, have no chance to work. It is known that people, who eat larger quantities of food containing lactic acid, reach an old age; which would be reason enough for making Sauerkraut a national dish.
White Cabbage is an abundant source of vitamin C (richer than oranges), thus a good antioxidant to reduce free radicals in our body. It helps in repairing the wear and tear of the body through the course of our life. Therefore, White Cabbage is very helpful in treating ulcers, certain cancers, depression, and is boosting our immune system.
Cabbage is recommended for people who want to lose weight. White Cabbage is packed with vitamins C, B and E, important minerals, and other nutrients. It is a healthy dietary option and quite filling, since it has high levels of fibre and is extremely low in calories. Eating White Cabbage protects from elevated blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, because it opens up the blood vessels and eases the flow of blood. Overall, cabbage is a great shield against many types of dangerous conditions!
One more recommendation before you go to the Supermarket. Cooking White Cabbage actually causes a loss of many of the valuable nutrients, particularly the high levels of vitamin C. So, the best option is to eat White Cabbage raw as a salad!
The fact sheet below gives an overview about the ingredients and nutritional values of raw White Cabbage. In the upcoming post I will present some healthy recipes.