Although cabbage has an extensive history, it is difficult to trace its exact origins owing to the many varieties of leafy greens classified as “brassicas.”
The wild ancestor of cabbage, Brassica oleracea, originally found in Britain and continental Europe, is tolerant of salt but not encroachment by other plants and consequently inhabits rocky cliffs in cool damp coastal habitats, retaining water and nutrients in its slightly thickened, turgid leaves.
Currently, China is the largest producer of cabbage, followed by India and Russia, one of the largest consumers of this versatile vegetable. Cabbage can be eaten raw, and it can also be prepared in a variety of ways. It can be steamed, pickled, stewed, sautéed or braised. Sauerkraut is a favorite of hot dogs; kimchi is also very popular, and coleslaw appears to be everyone’s favorite.