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What is a Savoy Cabbage?

By A. Gabrenas
Updated Feb 20, 2024
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A savoy cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable with crinkly leaves and a mild flavor. It is typically thought to have originated in a region of the Alps, but is now grown in many places around the world. In general, it may be used in both raw and cooked dishes, and is often considered a good substitute for other types of cabbage.

Savoy cabbage is generally said to have originated and gotten its name from the Savoy region of the Alps that encompasses parts of modern day France and Italy. Today, it is grown not only in this region, but around the world. It is particularly suited to being grown in temperate and colder climates, such as the United Kingdom and the northeastern United States.

A typical head of savoy cabbage is usually oval shaped and weighs around 1.5 to 2 pounds (0.68 to 0.9 kg). The leaves are usually crinkled and curly, ranging in color from light to dark green, depending on the variety. In general, the tougher outer leaves, which protect the cabbage as it grows, can be removed to reveal more delicate inner leaves.

When purchasing a savoy cabbage, it’s generally recommended to look for a head that weighs more than would be expected based on its size. Choosing a head with crisp, undamaged leaves, as opposed to wilted and/or torn ones, is also generally recommended. Due to its delicate nature, savoy cabbages do not always ship well, so finding one that is in good shape in a typical grocery store can be difficult. Local stands and farmers' markets can sometimes yield better results, as the heads generally do not have to travel as far.

Unlike green cabbage, a smooth-leafed variety that is one of the more familiar forms found in many areas, savoy cabbage has a mild flavor and is less prone to putting off sulfurous odors. The leaves are also more tender, making them quicker and easier to cook. For example, when making cabbage rolls out of green cabbage, the leaves often need to be boiled before being stuffed and baked. Leaves from a savoy cabbage, on the other hand, can usually be stuffed raw and will cook to the desired consistency during baking alone.

Savoy cabbage is suited to a variety of recipes beyond cabbage rolls. It may also be used raw in dishes such as coleslaw or salad, or as a topping for tacos in place of lettuce. Cooked recipes that incorporate savoy cabbage may include chicken stir-fry, savoy cabbage soup and pasta with braised savoy cabbage. In general, it may be used in place of most other types of cabbage. For example, it can replace the napa cabbage often used in the Korean pickled cabbage dish commonly known as kimchi, as well as the red cabbage called for in many German slaw recipes.

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