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How to cook cabbage

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It is a well-known fact that not everyone likes cabbage! Some, especially the younger ones, don't like the taste. Others can't stand the smell they give off while cooking.
2023-01-16, by ,

#Wellbeing || #Health || #Cabbage ||

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The characteristic bad smell that results from cooking cabbage is due to the high amount of sulphur compounds in the vegetable. The total elimination of sulphides comes after 16 minutes of cooking and several tricks are used to prevent the bad smell from spreading throughout the house: you can add a slice of dry bread or a bay leaf or breadcrumbs soaked in vinegar or lemon to the cooking water. Some people put a coffee cup full of vinegar on the lid of the pot or add half a glass of milk to the cooking water.

Cooking boiled cabbage

If you want to prepare boiled cauliflower for a simple light side dish or to use it as an ingredient in a more elaborate recipe, it is important not to overcook it and leave it firm enough to benefit from its nutritional properties. Cooking time varies according to the size of the inflorescences. Bring a saucepan with plenty of salted water to the boil, plunge the cleaned and washed cabbage florets in and cook them for 10 minutes (pre-boiling), then drain and finish cooking for a further 15 minutes in a pan or in the oven with other vegetables.

Check the cooking time by poking the whole cauliflower, or florets, with the tines of a fork: it should go in without difficulty. The cooking time will obviously be much longer for the whole head, at least 45 minutes for a complete boiling. If you want, you can store it in the fridge for 3 days tightly sealed in a food container.


Fill a pot with about 5 cm of water and bring it to the boil on the cooker over high heat. Place the steamer basket in the pot and make sure it does not touch the water. Place the cleaned cauliflower florets in the basket, head-side up, stems down, and make sure they are distributed as evenly as possible. Put the lid on and let the steam envelop the cabbage. The florets are ready after about 7-10 minutes; check the cooking time after 5 minutes by poking the tines of a fork into the florets. Larger florets take up to 13 minutes.

If you decide to steam the whole cabbage, it will take about 45 minutes. Then switch off and season the cauliflower in a serving dish with salt, pepper and butter as you like, or use it as an ingredient for another recipe.


Place the cabbage, already peeled and divided into florets, in a container suitable for microwave cooking, and form a single layer as even or regular as possible. For a standard-sized cauliflower, add a little water (about 35-45 ml): enough water to create steam, but not too much to boil the cabbage.

Cover the container with its lid or use microwave-safe cling film. Cook the cauliflower at maximum power for 2-3 minutes, then stir, cover again and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes if necessary. Once cooked, the florets should be tender enough to pierce with a fork without splitting. Watch out for steam escaping when removing the lid.


Fry a clove of garlic and, if you like, add a handful of pitted black olives. Add the cauliflower, already cleaned and divided into small florets, and let it season for a couple of minutes. Pour in 1/2 glass of lukewarm water and season with a pinch of salt.

Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. The cauliflower is ready when you stick a fork into the core and it will go in without resistance. Uncover and allow the excess water to dry, remove the garlic and serve with a sprinkling of pepper. If left over, you can store the cauliflower in the fridge for 2 days tightly sealed in a food container.


Boil plenty of water in a high-sided pot. Salt and plunge the washed whole black cabbage leaves, stripped of the central rib, into it. Cook for 10-15 minutes, then drain, squeeze and cut into strips. Dress them with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper as a light side dish or use them as a base for soups, main courses or side dishes.

If you use a pressure cooker, you won't need as much water and the cabbage leaves will be cooked 6-7 minutes after the whistle blows.

Steaming kale

Fill a high-sided pot with a little water and bring it to the boil on the cooker over high heat. Place the steaming basket inside and make sure it does not touch the water. Place the whole black cabbage leaves in the basket and remove the central rib if it is very hard. Cover with a lid and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Serve the leaves on a serving plate or use them as an ingredient in tasty recipes.

Boiled cabbage (white, red or purple)

Cut the cabbage in half so that the leaves remain attached to the central body. Plunge the two parts of cabbage into boiling salted water and put the lid on the pot just long enough for the water to come to the boil again (about 2 minutes); this will not only preserve the colour but also the minerals and vitamins. Remove from the heat, drain and allow the cabbage to cool.

Once cool, cut them into very thin strips and dress them with a vinaigrette made by emulsifying the oil, vinegar and salt. Season the cabbage and serve on a serving plate, topped with freshly ground black pepper if you like.

Pan-fried cabbage - Cut the cabbage leaves into thin strips. Peel and crush a clove of garlic and brown it in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil. Add the cabbage strips and season with salt. Let the vegetables wilt for about 10 minutes, adding a few tablespoons of water if necessary. Wet with a splash of wine and let it partly evaporate over a moderate heat. Continue cooking for about 30-40 minutes, adding hot water as necessary, over very low heat and with the pan covered, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. When cooked, serve the cabbage piping hot.


Ted Jackman

Ted Jackman contributor to
Independent Financial Adviser