Last September we started our new spring cabbage patch and over the winter, and boy has that winter been a mild one, folks; we have been harvesting kale through December-February and the spring cabbage due to the mildness has given us lots of greens. Now, we slip painfully into the part of the year known as the hunger gap. That moment between the end of last year's crops and the start of this year's. Yet the hunger gap shouldn't really exist if you have been preserving through the summer and preserving the last of your crops. We often forget that cabbage can be preserved, not just as bloody coleslaw, sauerkraut or red cabbage. You can freeze cabbage but you have to accept that it won't be as fresh as the leaves plucked fresh from the plot, but they will taste great in mash, on the plate beside some good meat or vegetables.
This is the last of our cabbage and we won't eat it fast enough before it runs to seed. So, in this post we will show you how to blanch it and why to boil and blanch it.
The act of blanching a cabbage slows down the chance of your cabbage going rotten in the freezer. It stops enzyme action but does not lessen the nutritional value of cabbage, it does stop any chance of food poisoning as micro-organisms are killed in the boiling process and the rapid cooling. Now we will take through it step by step:
1) Prep your cabbage. This simply means strip off all rotten outer leaves. In the photo above we are mainly dealing with greens - this is the name for loose cabbages, cabbages without a solid heart - if you have solid cabbages you are recommended to still strip away rotten outer leaves and then cut the solid cabbage into quarters. Now wash the cabbage thoroughly under a running tap. Any spoilage at this point should be added to your compost heap.
2) Start a pan on the boil. A great technique is to start a pan off with around an inch of water in the bottom and boil a kettle as the pan comes up to the boil. Then pour in the kettle, you will have a hot pan boiling away quicker than waiting for a full pan of cold water to come up to heat.
3) Add your leaves or cabbages to the boiling water. Loose leaves can be boiled in the water from anything to 30 seconds to 1 minute. The longer you boil it the limper the cabbage will become. If you are boiling cabbage quarters, boil for 1 1/2 to 2 mins depending on the size of the quarters. Scoop out the cabbage into a colander.
4) Immediately plunge into cold, ice water. We use our sink for this but we do give it a thorough clean before use and the ice and metal brings the water down to a very cold temperature. This action will keep the cabbage lovely and green when it is frozen but also will lock in those nutrients which would be lost if you directly freeze the cabbage. Remember any vegetable directly frozen without blanching can carry food poisoning, creep crawlies or in one case, a dead mouse.
5) Finally, bag them up and look into the distance as your husband demands to take a photo of you with them. Think of something else other than the pounds of cabbage ripping your wrists off.
6) Label them and freeze them.