Now introducing cabbage: Star of recent Google searches

Looking for some mid-winter local food or St. Patrick’s Day staples? Consider cabbage as a healthy winter vegetable option.

Photo credit: J E Theriot
Photo credit: J E Theriot

According to Google trends, cabbage was one of the top ten United States recipe related searches in 2015. The search data shows that cabbage recipes are popular year round, but have increased interest in December and March. 

Cabbage, prepared in various ways, is a traditional dish for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. This might explain the increased search frequency in the month of March. While cabbage is a staple in Irish cuisine, it is also a key ingredient in cultural dishes from around the world. In fact, cabbage is used in recipes from every continent. Nutritionally, it is a source of potassium and is high in vitamin C. 

Fortunately for Michigan residents, cabbage is in season for the majority of the winter. The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems has developed a Michigan Produce Availability Chart , detailing when various fruits and vegetables grown in Michigan are available. If eating local food in the winter is new to you – cabbage is currently in season because producers are able to store it after it has been harvested. 

Cabbage is harvested in two batches from the field, an early crop from July through mid-August and a late crop from mid-October through November. These ranges may vary depending on where you live in the large state of Michigan. After the end of the harvest in November, when producers store cabbage in appropriate conditions, this vegetable can be purchased locally through the month of March! Including season extension and storage time, local cabbage is available for more than half of the year. That gives plenty of opportunities to experiment with preparing and cooking cabbage with recipes from around the world! 

Another way of storing cabbage is by fermenting it. Lacto-fermentation is becoming more popular, and is a fun and fairly easy process to do at home. An MSU Extension initiative, Michigan Fresh, has a free fact sheet on cabbage which includes a sauerkraut recipe. If the finished product is more appealing, look for some thriving new companies that are selling lacto-fermented sauerkraut locally, including The Brinery and Cultured Love

Look for cabbage at your year round farmers market, grocer stocking local produce, or for value-added products that source from Michigan producers. 

Michigan State University Extension supports the growth and consumption of local produce year round.

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