Cabbage is one of the oldest and most beloved vegetables in the world. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and significant health benefits, cabbage has been used in many different cultures for thousands of years. It’s perfect for soups, salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, and much more! If you’re looking for a fun way to teach your kids about cabbage, this article is for you. We’ve compiled below a list of fun facts about cabbage that will keep everyone entertained while they learn!
With a little help from these facts, parents will be able to encourage curiosity while simultaneously piquing their child’s interest in all that healthy eating entails. So, let’s get started!
1. The wild ancestors of cabbages were first found in Britain and Europe
Despite the long history of cabbage’s widespread use, historians have still not been able to trace its origins. The closest they’ve come to it is a wild species of Brassica orelacea that originated in continental Europe and Britain.
They believe this wild species to be the ancestor of the domesticated cabbages we eat today, although there’s little evidence to support the claim.
2. There are over 400 different varieties of cabbage in the world
Cabbages are diverse vegetables that come in a variety of colors and textures. Some of them are tight-leaved, while others are loosely packed; besides green, they can also occur in white, red, and purple colors.
This might come as a surprise to some of you, but over 400 different varieties of cabbage are grown around the world, which are roughly divided into 5 groups: Green, Red, White, Savoy, and Spring Greens.
3. Cabbages were first brought to America in the 16th century
While cabbages have been around for quite a long time, it wasn’t until the 16th century that they found their way, or rather were brought into, America. Jacques Cartier, a French maritime explorer, brought the first cabbage to America in 1542.
At that time, only the early English colonists were known to grow it. However, by the 18th century, the cultivation of these vegetables was common to both the English and the Native Americans.
4. Brussels sprouts might appear like baby cabbages but aren’t
Don’t you think brussels sprouts look just like cute little cabbages? Everything from their color to their rounded, leafy structure reflects cabbages, so much so that many call them baby cabbages. But are they an immature form of cabbages? No.
While brussels sprouts do come from the same plant as cabbages, the two are not the same. Brussels sprouts grow in large clusters on a thick, fibrous stem, while cabbages form large heads much closer to the ground.
Therefore, no matter how long you leave a brussel sprout on its stalk, it will never grow into a cabbage.
5. Savoy Cabbages, although named after a French region, were first developed in Germany
Savoy Cabbages are a cabbage cultivar variety with thick, crinkled leaves that are emerald green in color. Do you know how these cabbages have been named? They’ve been named after the Savoy region of France.
Now, we’re certain this might make you think that this variety was first cultivated in that region of the country. But you’d be wrong to think so.
Strangely enough, Savoy, or even France, was not the originating place of Savoy Cabbages. In fact, they were first developed by German gardeners in the 16th century.
6. Cabbages were first called “Caboches” in 14th-century England
It was in the 14th century that round-headed cabbages first appeared in England. And do you know what the people of the country called these vegetables back then? They called them Caboches or Cabaches, terms derived from the Old French language, which, when translated to English, meant a ball of unopened leaves.
7. Eating cabbages before wine was a common practice in Ancient Egypt
Let’s tell you about a practice of Ancient Egypt that might sound strange to you:
There was a time when the Egyptians believed that eating cabbage before wine could help keep the intoxicating effect of wine at bay. For this reason, they often included cooked cabbages in the meals prepared for large gatherings, where people were to drink wine later.
You can find mentions of this traditional practice in many works of European Literature written before the 20th century.
8. Cabbages can do wonders for your skin, nails, and hair
While you must already know which minerals and vitamins cabbages are rich in, we’re certain you wouldn’t know that these veggies also contain sulforaphane. But what is sulforaphane? Well, it’s a compound that, when ingested, can promote the production of keratin in your body.
And because keratin is the protein that plays a key role in the formation of your skin, nails, and hair, a cabbage-rich diet is bound to make your hair and nails stronger and your skin softer.
9. Bok Choy is a cabbage variety that doesn’t taste like cabbage!
A staple in Asian cuisine, Bok Choy is a Chinese cabbage variety that doesn’t have the typical round, bulb-like structure but instead grows in a cluster of large, oval-shaped leaves connected with thick white stems at the bottom.
While the white parts of this Chinese cabbage variety do have a mild cabbage-like flavor, the taste of its leaves has more in common with spinach than cabbages. However, they lack the bitterness of spinach.
10. People with Thyroid shouldn’t eat cabbages!
Is someone in your family who suffers from Thyroid? If yes, then you must make sure they stay from cabbages at all costs.
This is because cabbages, along with other cruciferous vegetables, are goitrogenic in nature. It means that they can interfere with the production of their thyroid hormones and can worsen their hyperthyroidism.
11. Eating too many cabbages can lead to bloating and flatulence
If you’ve ever eaten too many cabbages too frequently, have you noticed how it makes you flatulent later on?
This is because cabbages contain trisaccharide raffinose, a sugar that our small intestines cannot digest and, therefore, remains undigested until the bacteria of the large intestine ferments it. The delayed digestion, in turn, produces gas and can even lead to bloating.
12. Flowering Cabbages are grown solely for ornamental purposes
The Cruciferous family has given us many vegetables that enrich our diet and benefit our health. But did you know not all plants of this family are edible?
Some cabbage varieties do not produce closed vegetable heads at all but open, flower-like growths with large green leaves in the outer layer and white, red, and pink leaves on the inside. These plants are inedible and are grown solely for ornamental purposes.
13. Cabbages have two moths named after them!
Did you know that there is not one but moths out there that have been named after cabbages? Yes, you read that right!
The Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae) and the Cabbage Looper (Trichoplusia ni) are two moths that have been named after these vegetables. Wondering why? Well, it’s because cabbage plants, as well as other members of the cruciferous family, are the main hosts of both these insects.
14. The heaviest cabbage in the world weighs over 130 pounds!
The Guinness Book of World Records has several entries in the Cabbage category, but we’ve decided to share with you the two most important ones: the heaviest green and red cabbages. Let’s start with the bigger one first!
You’d be happy to find that the heaviest cabbage ever grown in the world was cultivated in the United States itself! This cabbage was grown in Alaska by Scott A. Robb, the man who also holds the world record for growing the heaviest turnip.
Robb grew this cabbage in August 2012 and presented it at the Alaska State Fair. The cabbage weighed 138 pounds and 25 ounces (62.7 kilograms), which is more than 90 times the weight of an average-sized cabbage!
Next is the world record for the heaviest red cabbage ever grown. And while it’s roughly half the weight of the heaviest green cabbage, among the average-sized cabbages, it’s still phenomenal.
This cabbage was grown by Neil Hands of Nottinghamshire, UK, in September 2020. Hands presented the cabbage in The Grow Show, a traveling showcase of gardening. The cabbage was of the Langedijk variety and weighed 69 pounds and 10 ounces!
15. Babe Ruth used to wear a cabbage leaf under his cap during matches!
Babe Ruth, the world-renowned baseball player from America, had a special cabbage tradition he followed in his matches. This might sound strange to you, but the player wore a cabbage leaf under his cap during all his matches, changing it between the innings.
When asked about this peculiar habit, Ruth replied that it helped him keep his cool amidst the heat of the match.
16. China is the leading cabbage-producing country in the world
While cabbages might have originated in Europe, a majority of their production takes place in Asia, with China taking the lead as the largest cabbage-producing country in the world.
The country produces about 33 million tonnes of cabbages annually, accounting for 48% of the total global cabbage production worldwide. China is closely followed by India, Russia, South Korea, and Ukraine on the list.
17. California is the leading cabbage-producing state in the United States
We just learned about the top 5 cabbage-producing countries of the world. Does it make you wonder which states of our country are included on the top 5 cabbage producers’ list? Here’s your answer.
California is the leading cabbage-producing state in the United States and is closely followed by Wisconsin, New York City, Florida, and Texas. Together, these states account for 78% of the country’s cabbage production.
18. Russia has the highest cabbage per capita consumption in the world
While China leads the world in the production of cabbages, when it comes to the consumption of these veggies, no country can beat Russia. The leading consumer of cabbages in the world, Russia’s per capita consumption of cabbages is 44 pounds!
19. Shchi, a national Russian cuisine, is a cabbage-based dish
Since Russia consumes the most cabbage in the world, it’s no surprise that the country’s national cuisine uses this vegetable as its main ingredient.
Shchi, a Russian-style cabbage soup, is quite popular throughout the country. It is traditionally made with fresh cabbages, meat, flour, mushroom, and spices. When Sauerkraut is used in the soup in place of fresh cabbages, the resulting soup is called Sour Shchi.
The very name of this soup is derived from an Old East Slavic term, which roughly translates to a satisfying feed in English. Shchi has been a staple food for the Russians since the 10th century.
20. Coleslaw is the most popular cabbage salad in the world!
Although Shchi is a popular Russian dish, many of you might not even have heard of it. Let’s tell you about another cabbage-based side dish that’s popular throughout the world:
Coleslaw is a popular side dish that consists of finely-shredded raw cabbages mixed with condiments or salad dressings. It gets its name from the Dutch term Koolsla, which translates to cabbage salad in English.
While raw cabbages remain a consistent ingredient in this dish, other ingredients vary widely in different parts of the world. In the United States, it is often made with mayonnaise, buttermilk, and carrots.
21. Sauekrat has saved countless sailors’ lives on voyages!
While we’re talking about popular cabbage-based dishes around the world, how could we forget the one that saved the lives of millions of sailors in the Early Modern Period (1500-1800)?
We’re talking about Sauerkraut, which is another cabbage dish made by fermenting freshly-chopped cabbages in lactobacillales. But how did Sauerkraut save lives, you ask?
Well, between the 16th and 18th centuries, when long-distance voyages played a key role in the exploration of new lands and transportation of goods, most sailors suffered from Scurvy, a Vitamin C deficiency disease. It was difficult to combat because any fresh source of this vitamin they’d carry aboard wouldn’t last as long as their sails.
Then, Captain James Cook experimented with carrying Sauerkraut on voyages, only to find out later that no deaths were reported on that voyage. Ever since the revelation came to light, Sauerkraut became a must-have on every ship traveling long distances in the sea.
22. February 17th is celebrated as National Cabbage Day in US
National Cabbage Day is celebrated on February 17th every year to celebrate the simplicity and versatility of cabbages! There are a number of different ways that people can celebrate National Cabbage Day. One way is to cook up a big pot of cabbage soup or cabbage stew. Another way is to make a cabbage slaw or a cabbage salad. And, of course, one can always just enjoy eating raw cabbage as a healthy snack.