You bought some shredded cabbage at the beginning of the week, but when you pulled it out of the refrigerator this afternoon, it looked… off. If you’re wondering how to tell if shredded cabbage is bad, keep reading.
Different kinds of cabbage
Cabbage is a versatile vegetable and there are a variety of different kinds that you can buy whole or pre-shredded. Each variety of cabbage varies depending on its flavor, texture and appearance.
Here are a few common types of cabbage you might find at your local grocery store:
- Red cabbage: Also known as purple cabbage due to its bright reddish-purple color.
- Green cabbage: The most common variety of cabbage. It’s a light green color.
- Napa cabbage: Commonly used in Asian cooking and popular dishes like kimchi.
- Savoy cabbage: Similar to green cabbage, but the leaves are very crimped and ruffly.
- White cabbage: Looks like a very pale green version of green cabbage.
The kind of cabbage you will use for cooking largely depends on the dish you are making. Before purchasing the cabbage, make sure to check the recipe.
How to wash cabbage
To wash your cabbage, simply run it under cold water and use a clean sponge or brush to rub off any excess dirt. If possible, lift the leaves and scrub underneath each layer.
Once clean, gently pat with some paper towels or clean kitchen towels until dry.
Alternatively, you can pre-cut your cabbage into chunks (if your recipe asks for this) and clean in a bath of cold water.
To dry, use a salad spinner or dry in a single layer with paper towels or clean kitchen towels.
How to shred cabbage
Shredding your own fresh cabbage is pretty simple and straightforward. First grab a whole cabbage, remove the outer leaves and cut out the cabbage stem.
Then, cut the cabbage in half and either use a knife or use a julienne slicer to cut into thin strips. What you should be left with is thin strips of cabbage or shredded cabbage.
Where to store shredded cabbage
Whether you shred your cabbage at home or purchase pre-shredded cabbage, you need to ensure you store it in a way that extends shelf life.
It’s best to store cabbage in an airtight plastic bag or container in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. This is the best place to ensure they stay fresh as long as possible.
How to store shredded cabbage
The best way to store your shredded cabbage is in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag. This will help keep your veggies fresher for longer.
You can also wrap your shredded cabbage in plastic wrap if an airtight container or plastic bag isn’t available. Make sure there is no way from air to escape or enter the plastic wrap.
Along with this, you can consider sustainable options like reusable silicone sealable bags or beeswax wraps. These cost more than traditional plastic storage but are reusable.
How long does shredded cabbage last
Shredded cabbage will inevitably go bad quicker than a whole cabbage would and therefore needs to be consumed quickly. That being said, how long it will stay fresh largely depends on what storage method you use.
Cut, shredded or peeled vegetables only last 2 hours at room temperature before going bad. This is because they are being exposed to oxygen and will therefore spoil faster.
If you want to leave your vegetables out at room temperature, avoid cutting or washing them beforehand. Leave all the prep for right before you add the vegetable to a recipe.
In the fridge
Shredded cabbage should last about 2-3 days in the refrigerator before spoiling. It’s possible that it could last a bit longer, so make sure to check for signs of spoilage before eating.
To extend shelf life in the refrigerator, avoid cutting, peeling or shredding until right before you use it in a recipe. A whole cabbage will last about two weeks in the refrigerator.
In the freezer
For the longest shelf life, you can freeze your shredded cabbage. First, blanch the cabbage by boiling for a few minutes, then dunking in a cold ice water bath.
Then, dry off and let cool. Transfer to freezer bags or a freezer-safe container and move to the freezer. It should last up to 6 months in the freezer before losing quality.
3 signs the cabbage went bad
There are a few signs of spoilage that you can look out for to see if you have bad cabbage on your hands. Spoiled cabbage can lead to food poisoning, so make sure you check your cabbage for freshness before eating.
First, examine the appearance of your shredded cabbage. Signs of spoilage include black spots or dark spots in the surface as well as excess moisture and water droplets accumulating all over the cabbage.
Next, examine the texture of the cabbage. Is it wilted? Does it have a soft and mushy texture? These are signs of spoilage. Fresh cabbage should be firm and sturdy, dry to the touch. If it’s wet and mushy, it’s time to toss it.
Finally, examine the smell of the shredded cabbage. Does it have a sour smell? Kind of like sauerkraut? Does it have overall rotten cabbage smells? Fresh cabbage has a light, earthy scent. If it smells sour and fermented, it’s time to toss it.
Does cooked cabbage last longer or shorter?
Cooked cabbage should last about 3-5 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container. This means that cooked cabbage does in fact last longer in the refrigerator than raw shredded cabbage.
If you want to use cabbage in a recipe 4 days from now and only have raw shredded cabbage, you can try lightly steaming it or boiling it beforehand so it lasts longer.
That being said, the final recipe should be consumed in one sitting since the leftovers will only last about a day, if even.
Is cabbage healthy for you?
Yes, cabbage can be very healthy for you, no matter which variety you choose. One cup of shredded raw green cabbage contains about 18 calories, 1 gram of protein and 4 grams of carbohydrates.
It’s an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Vitamin C is important for wound healing, protein metabolism and limiting the damage of free radicals in the body. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone metabolism.
Overall, both of these vitamins are vital for a healthy and functioning body and cabbage seems to be a great source of both of these nutrients.
Along with this, cabbage contains some fiber. One cup of raw shredded green cabbage contains almost 2 grams of fiber. While this may not seem like a lot, 2 grams for just 18 calories is quite a bit.
Fiber is essential for maintaining regular bowel movements and good bowel health, lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar, achieving or maintaining a healthy weight and improving longevity.
How to extend cabbage shelf life
There are several ways to extend the shelf life of cabbage. First is proper storage, which is mentioned in the above sections. But, there are a few other ways to extend the life of your cabbage even longer.
Freezing is probably the best way to extend the shelf life of your cabbage without dramatically affecting taste or texture.
To freeze our cabbage, start by blanching it. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Submerge the cabbage in the boiling water and let cook for 1-2 minutes.
Then, remove the cabbage and transfer it directly to a bowl of ice water. This will cool the cabbage down rapidly and stop the cooking process.
Then, dry off the cabbage with some paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and transfer to an airtight freezer bag. Move to the freezer.
Frozen cabbage should last in the refrigerator for about six months before losing freshness. It can last longer and remain edible, but the flavor and texture will degrade over time.
Pickling is another path to go down. It typically involves submering the shredded cabbage in a brine of vinegar, water, salt and sugar.
The brine creates an environment that bacteria doesn’t like due to the acidity and saltiness. This means the cabbage will last longer before going bad.
A good brine to begin with is one cup water, one cup white vinegar, two tablespoons sugar and one tablespoon salt. Gently simmer this mixture in a saucepan and pour over cabbage in a jar.
Pickled shredded cabbage should last about two weeks in the refrigerator before going bad.
While pickling involves putting the food in an acidic brine, fermentation occurs when microorganisms break down carbohydrates anaerobically (without oxygen).
While this does sound like something that happens in a science lab, you can actually make this happen in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Examples of fermented cabbage include dishes like kimchi and sauerkraut.
To make homemade kimchi, you will need to coat your washed cabbage leaves in a mixture of Korean red chili flakes, rice flour, sugar, salt, garlic, ginger, onion, fish sauce and salted shrimp.
Then, you will store the leaves in an airtight container so the cabbage leaves can ferment in the brine. Kimchi will last about three to six months before spoiling.
Canning is another way to stunt bacterial growth and help your vegetables last longer. It’s best to use pickled cabbage or sauerkraut for canning.
Fill the jar with cabbage and brine, leaving about ½ inch of space at the top. Screw the top onto the jars and twist until secure.
Bring a very large pot of water to a boil, with enough water to cover the jars. Boil the jars for 10-20 minutes depending on your elevation.
Remove from the water bath and let cool. Once safe, label and store for later use. Canned cabbage should last about one year before going bad.
There are plenty of other vegetables similar to cabbage that you can use. Leafy vegetables like bok choy, spinach, romaine, arugula, kale and Chinese broccoli are good choices. Along with this, cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are good options.