How to cook a cabbage- 1940s style

Here is an interesting bit of social history for you….

I was also quite horrified to see how much salt was used in cooking. The grandmother instructs her granddaughters to soak the cabbage in salted water for 10 minutes (does anyone know why- please leave a comment if you do!) and then the cabbage is added to a pot of boiling water and salt is added…

I LOVE cabbage.. I have a feeling cabbage was used a lot in the 1940s household..

How do I cook it? A covered pot with a little boiling water in and that’s it (or I add it into a stew) Salt is ALWAYS added after!

15 thoughts on “How to cook a cabbage- 1940s style

  1. I agree with you about the salt shock!

    I wonder if the salted water soak was to reduce the cabbage-y flavour? I made a big cabbage salad for a family pot-luck once and nobody ate it. My sister-in-law told me afterwards that they actually don’t like cabbage, but if they have to eat it, they soak it in salt water first to cut the sharp flavour.

    I love cabbage, with all its flavour, both raw and cooked.

    • To release bugs/moths from in-between the tightly wrapped leaves of cabbage. Soak then rinse it good then add more salt to season while cooking.

  2. What a wonderful video! It’s so nice to have a bit of cooking history, isn’t it? Before I married, I was a very picky eater and wouldn’t eat cabbage in any form. Today, my favorite preparation is raw: shredded finely, with a dash of salt, a sprinkle of lime juice and a bit of chopped cilantro. Originally it was made to go with some tacos, but I liked it so much, I often have it on the table to accompany every meal.
    ~Candy from Alaska

  3. Soaking in salted water killed the little critters that might be hiding under the leaves of your cabbage and the corpses floated to the top of the water for removal. Not sure that I would rely on this method for boiling a chunk of unshredded cabbage though! My mother cooked cabbage like Jane throughout the 1970s and it WAS unappetising.

  4. Soaking it in salty water gets the bugs out. They used to sometimes also add a pinch of soda when cooking veg to keep them green too!

  5. I won’t say this is the reasoning behind it as different people had different ideas but I believe (from what my Mum told me), that the salt water was to try and draw out any hidden insects in the cabbage. The salt water would kill them and they would float to the top.
    Anybody else heard this one?

  6. Thanks for all your comments! That makes complete sense! Hmmmm now I never soak- I wonder how many bugs I eat inadvertently!!!!! Hehe

    Candy- the raw cabbage sounds nice!

    Personally I love it lightly cooked in a pot (or steamed) and tossed in a little butter with salt and pepper, or mashed in with potatoes or added to a stew…..yum!

    I appreciate the comments- just didn’t even think about that possibility!

    C xxxxxx

  7. If you soak it in cider vinegar (tbspoon in the water) it does a much better job..things float up, and it gives it a sweeter taste… 🙂

  8. As an organic gardener I sure understand the salt water soak!
    The Man in my house does the cooking. He likes to shred up some cabbage, then cook it with minced beef and some tomatoes and garlic. It is very good!

  9. While I prefer my cabbage just cooked in quartered pieces, I understand why people pull it apart into individual leaves. There is a chance of bugs and dirt being trapped in between the layers or there could be a rotten spot not easily noticed if just quartered.

  10. Hi! New to this site this AM. Love it! I like to fry my cabbage with pepper and a bit of bacon grease. We seasoned EVERYthing when I was growing up in Kentucky, USA, with salt, pepper and bacon grease. Sometimes a touch of sugar to cut the “green” or sharp taste.

  11. I was told growing up that the salt water was to help pull out any hidden bugs and dirt that might be trapped between the layers of leaves. I prefer wedges of cabbage myself but I always pull the layers apart and cook.

  12. Yes the salt draws out the caperpillas and anything else that likes cabbage. By the way, never use soda in the cooking water as it distroys the vitamins. An finding your means to weight loss very interesting. Jan

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