Cabbage (red)

Red cabbage, a member of the large family of cruciferous vegetables, is rich in nutrients. Along with significant amounts of nitrogen compounds known as indoles, and dietary fibre, red cabbage is a rich source of vitamin C (supplying almost twice as much vitamin C as green cabbage).

Look for solid, heavy heads of cabbage, with no more than three or four loose "wrapper" (outer) leaves. These wrapper leaves should be clean and flexible but not limp, and free of discolored veins or caterpillar damage, which may penetrate the interior of the head. The stem should be closely trimmed and healthy looking, not dry or split. The inner and outer leaves should be tightly attached to the stem.

Cabbage keeps well, and retains its vitamin C, if kept cold. Place the whole head of cabbage in a perforated plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator . An uncut head of red cabbage will keep for at least two weeks.

Once a head of cabbage is cut, cover the cut surface tightly with plastic wrap and use the remainder within a day or two. Rubbing the cut surface with lemon juice will prevent it from discoloring.

Don't wash cabbage until you are ready to use it. The interior is nearly always clean, but if you want to rinse it, do so after cutting or chopping. Avoid cutting cabbage in advance (it will lose vitamin C). If you must prepare cabbage an hour or more before cooking or serving it, seal it tightly in a plastic bag and refrigerate.

When cutting cabbage into wedges, leave part of the core intact to help hold the leaves together. However, when cabbage is to be cut up into smaller pieces, the first step is to quarter and core it: Cut the cabbage in quarters through the stem. Then cut out a wedge-shape section from each quarter to remove the stem and core.

To slice or shred cabbage, place a quarter wedge on the cutting board so that it's resting on its side. Slice the wedge vertically, gauging your cuts to produce wide ribbons or fine shreds, as desired. Or, grate cabbage by hand on the coarse side of a grater, or shred it in the food processor, using the grating disk.

Use a stainless steel (not carbon steel) knife when cutting cabbage; the vegetable's juices react with carbon steel and will turn the cut edges of red cabbage blue. To further preserve its bright color, red cabbage should also be cooked in a non reactive vessel, not an aluminium or cast-iron pan.