Can You Freeze Cabbage?
Whether green or red, napa or Savoy, cabbage is one of the most versatile, delicious and good-for-you vegetables—it's high in fiber, low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. The only problem with cabbage is that each head is quite large, so using an entire cabbage up in one meal or recipe can be a challenge. Thankfully, you can freeze cabbage, so none of those tasty leaves go to waste. Read on for everything you need to know about how to freeze fresh cabbage—plus, learn how to thaw cabbage.
How to Freeze Cabbage
With all those leafy layers, cabbage requires thorough cleaning. Start by removing any tough or wilted leaves, then give the cabbage a good rinse or—even better—soak it for about 30 minutes to remove any grit.
Next, think about how you plan to use your cabbage and cut it accordingly. Wedges are always a good option as they are easy to store and can always be broken down further, but you can also cut cabbage into quarters, separate the leaves or cut it into strips. For wedges and quarters, try to keep the cores intact, which will help hold the leaves together.
Note that while you can freeze an entire head of cabbage, it's not ideal, as it will take up a lot of freezer space and take a long time to thaw. Plus, as you'll need to defrost the entire head, you'll also need to use the entire head, which isn't always convenient.
Once it's washed and cut up, cabbage can be frozen, but for longer-term storage, it's best to blanch it first. Blanched cabbage can be frozen for up to nine months, while unblanched cabbage will only keep for one to two months.
And blanching is easy: Simply bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the cabbage and briefly cook it—leaves and strips need just 90 seconds; wedges need about three minutes. Plunge the cabbage into an ice bath to stop the cooking process, then drain in a colander. To avoid freezer burn, cabbage should be as dry as possible, so shake off any excess water and pat dry as needed.
If you have a plan for using your frozen cabbage, divide it into appropriate quantities and place it in freezer bags, arranging it in a single layer and pushing out as much air as possible. If you're not sure how you'll use your frozen cabbage, arrange it on a baking sheet and freeze it for several hours or overnight, until solid, then transfer to a freezer bag—again, arrange it in a single layer and push out as much air as possible. This method will allow you to take what you need from the freezer bag rather than having to defrost it all at once.
Before cabbage goes in the freezer, be sure to label and date the bag. This makes it easy to quickly see what's in your freezer and it also helps you track how long all that food has been in there. You don't want to make the effort to freeze cabbage—or any food—and then forget about it for the next three years!
How to Thaw Frozen Cabbage
Depending on how you freeze cabbage and how you plan to use it, thawing may not be necessary. For instance, if you freeze leaves or strips and want to make soup, you can add the cabbage straight from the freezer. However, if you want to use those leaves or strips to make cabbage rolls or coleslaw, you'll need to defrost them in the refrigerator first. Cabbage wedges and quarters also need to thaw in the refrigerator before you can use them. Transferring frozen cabbage to the fridge the night before is generally a safe bet, but as with all food, the larger the piece, the longer it will take to defrost, so plan ahead.
How to Use Frozen Cabbage
If frozen properly, there's no limit to how you can use frozen cabbage. Coleslaw may be the most obvious option—and there are many versions, including creamy, tangy and spicy slaws—but it's just the beginning when it comes to cabbage recipes. If you freeze wedges, turn them into an elegant and unexpected side dish or roast the wedges and serve them with horseradish cream. Shredded cabbage or cabbage cut into strips is a natural fit for quick stir-fries and pasta dishes. It's also ideal for making soup and can often be used straight from the freezer. Frozen leaves can be turned into cabbage rolls, along with cabbage roll enchiladas, egg roll–inspired cabbage rolls and cabbage roll casserole, all options that use up a large amount of cabbage and are a meal in themselves.