Savoy cabbage was discovered towards the end of the middle Ages. This head cabbage has a green head, more or less dense, formed by frilled, wavy leaves that due to their waffle like structure are surmounted and folded one on to the other. It has a deformed stem with a small toot. The small yellow flowers bear tiny fruit or siliques containing numerous seeds.
It has a delicate flavor. Savoy cabbage is more tender than most cabbages , It is cultivated the whole year long from seed. When it sown in January/February harvesting takes place before the summer. When grown in the nursery, it is sown in April and harvested from autumn until winter.Savoy cabbage is available during the whole year thanks to the different varieties that exist. It is hardy, but requires a soil rich in nutrients which must be well irrigated in the summer because the plant is not tolerant of heat. Storage should be in a dark, cool place.
Savoy cabbage is best when stewed or used in soups with carrots and potatoes. Its leaves can be used to make a delicious herbal stuffing for meat or cooked and prepared as a gratin. It is also used in stocks and soups, often served with bacon and croutons.
Savoy Cabbage is available year round with a peak season late autumn to early spring.
Oval-shaped and delicate, Savoy cabbage produces wrinkled crisp leaves. The color ranges from light green, gray-green, bluish-green and may show a reddish tint. Mellow-flavored, its taste is mild and sweet.
Savoy cabbage is fat-free, cholesterol-free, high in vitamin C and contains some protein, iron and calcium. Low in calories, one-half medium head has about 25 calories.
Raw or cooked Savoy cabbage is considered the most versatile of the cabbages. It can be added to casseroles, soups, stews, salads, stuffed and baked. It goes well with red wine, sage, thyme, caraway, dill fennel, horseradish, apples, onions, chestnuts, juniper berries, and sour cream. To store, place unwashed cabbage in a plastic bag; refrigerate in crisper drawer. For best texture and flavor, do not store longer than three or four days.
Alsace, the French region located along the Rhine border, is known for its production of cabbage. Even though France is not known as a cabbage-eating country as is Germany, Alsace has been part of Germany as a result of annexations and wars over the centuries at various times. Driving through Alsace in early September, endless fields of cabbages will be seen. With not a machine in sight, farmers will be hoisting cabbages by the hundreds over their shoulders into open wooden wagons just as their ancestors did. The signature dish of Alsace is a plate of “choucroute garnie” which means “garnished sauerkraut”.
Cabbage is one of the oldest vegetable plants and is native to Asia and the Mediterranean. The word “cabbage” is an Anglicized form of the French word caboche that means “head”. The Celts of central and western Europe are credited with introducing cabbage as a food and were apparently influential for this vegetable’s Latin name, Brassica, derived from the Celtic word “bresic” meaning “cabbage”. In 1536 in Europe, the true identity of hard-heading cabbage was recorded. At that time there was also a loose-heading cabbage form called romanos that was later named chou d’Italie and chou de Savoys for the Italian province. This “Savoy cabbage” was favored for its superior qualities and was grown in England in the 1500s. Still a European favorite, the French and Belgians prefer Savoy cabbage over all.
Reference Material: Farmer’s almanac & Specialty Produce guide