Cabbage is a super versatile ingredient. It makes a star turn in coleslaw, but it can also be used in soups and casseroles and even as a substitute for bread. But it’s only harvested once a year, in the fall. So if you want truly fresh cabbage, it’s smart to freeze some when it’s in season. That stuff on the grocery store shelves in April was likely picked a while ago and isn’t as fresh as you might think.
If you learn how to freeze cabbage, you can use it all year long.
- What You Need to Freeze Cabbage
To freeze cabbage you just need a cutting board, sharp knife, bowl, stockpot, cookie sheet, and freezer bags.
- Wash and Soak the Cabbage
If you grew the cabbage yourself or bought it directly from the farmer, remove the tough outer leaves, rinse thoroughly, and soak it in cold water for 30 minutes to rid it of any cabbage worms or grit. Then shake off the excess moisture and pat dry. If you bought your cabbage at the grocery store, giving it a thorough rinsing after you remove the outer leaves is all you need to do.
- Cut Up the Cabbage
Cabbage can be frozen in shreds, leaves, or wedges, whichever works best for you. If you don’t know how you’re going to use your cabbage yet, it’s best to freeze it in wedges. That will allow you to cut it into whatever size you need later. Once you’ve decided how you want to freeze your cabbage, go ahead and cut it. If you decide to go with wedges, leave the cores intact. They’ll keep the leaves together until you’re ready to use them.
- Blanch the Cabbage
Fill a large stockpot with water and heat over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, drop your cabbage in to blanch it. This will kill any bacteria that are present and stop the enzyme action so it keeps well in the freezer. Blanch shredded cabbage or leaves for 1.5 minutes and wedges for three minutes.
- Cool the Cabbage in Ice Water
Pull the cabbage out of the boiling water as soon as the recommended blanching time is up and submerge it in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Flash Freeze the Cabbage
Once the cabbage has cooled, pull it out of the ice water and shake off the excess water; the drier it is, the less likely it will develop freezer burn. Then place the cabbage on a cookie sheet and flash freeze it. When it’s frozen, transfer the cabbage to freezer bags, squeeze out all the excess air, seal the bags, and return the cabbage to the freezer.
- How to Use Frozen Cabbage
When you are ready to use the frozen cabbage, allow the leaves or shreds to thaw in the refrigerator if you plan to use them to make cabbage rolls, coleslaw, or something similar. Otherwise, just drop the frozen cabbage directly into soups and casseroles. There’s no need to thaw it first.