Cooked cabbage, with its tender texture and comforting flavor, can be a delightful addition to various dishes. But what if you’ve prepared more than you can consume? Can you freeze cooked cabbage for later use? Read on to find out.
Can You Freeze Cooked Cabbage?
Yes, indeed! Cooked cabbage can be successfully frozen and used in your dishes at a later time. Freezing preserves most of the nutritional value, flavor, and texture of the vegetable, making it an excellent way to avoid waste and save time on meal prep.
Does Freezing Change Texture?
The texture of cooked cabbage can change slightly when frozen. It may become a bit softer and lose some of its crunch, but if you’re using it in soups, stews, or stir-fries, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
How to Freeze Cooked Cabbage: Step-by-Step Guide
- Allow the cooked cabbage to cool down completely.
- Pack the cabbage in freezer-safe bags or containers. Try to keep portion sizes in mind so you can thaw only what you need later.
- Push out as much air as possible before sealing the bag or container to avoid freezer burn.
- Label the container with the date of freezing.
- Place the packed cabbage in the freezer.
Can You Freeze Uncooked/Fresh Cabbage?
Absolutely, fresh cabbage can be frozen as well. However, it’s generally recommended to blanch it first to maintain the texture and color. Slice the cabbage, blanch for about two minutes in boiling water, then cool it quickly in ice water before packing and freezing.
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Cabbage?
Cooked cabbage can be frozen for up to 9-12 months. After this period, the cabbage may start to lose its flavor and develop freezer burn.
How to blanch cabbage for freezing?
Prepare the Cabbage:
- Wash the cabbage head under cool running water.
- Remove any damaged or tough outer leaves.
- Cut the cabbage into quarters or wedges. You can also shred it if you prefer, but keep in mind that larger pieces retain their texture better when frozen and then thawed.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil.
- While waiting for the water to boil, prepare a large bowl of ice water and set it aside. This will be used to rapidly cool the cabbage after blanching.
- Once the water is boiling, add the cabbage pieces using a slotted spoon or tongs.
- For cabbage wedges: Blanch for about 3 minutes.
- For shredded cabbage: Blanch for about 1.5 minutes.
- Ensure that the cabbage is fully submerged in the boiling water during the blanching process.
- After the blanching time is up, immediately transfer the cabbage pieces to the bowl of ice water using a slotted spoon or tongs.
- Let the cabbage cool in the ice water for the same amount of time it was blanched. This stops the cooking process and helps to cool the cabbage quickly.
Drain and Dry:
- Remove the cabbage from the ice bath and let it drain in a colander.
- Pat the cabbage dry with clean kitchen towels or paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Excess moisture can lead to ice crystal formation during freezing, which can affect the cabbage’s texture upon thawing.
Pack and Freeze:
- Pack the cabbage pieces or shreds into suitable freezer bags or containers, removing as much air as possible. If using freezer bags, you can flatten them for more efficient storage.
- Label the bags or containers with the date and contents.
- Place the packed cabbage in the freezer. Store in a place where they won’t get crushed by heavier items.
Defrosting cooked cabbage is a straightforward process. Here are some methods you can use:
Defrosting in the Refrigerator
- Remove the frozen cooked cabbage from the freezer.
- Place it in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw overnight.
Defrosting at Room Temperature
- If you’re in a hurry, you can defrost cooked cabbage at room temperature.
- Simply place the frozen cooked cabbage on the counter, but make sure to use it within 2 hours to ensure it stays safe to eat.
Reheating Cooked Cabbage
You can reheat defrosted cooked cabbage in a pan over medium heat, adding a little bit of water or oil to prevent sticking. Stir occasionally and heat until it’s warm throughout.
How to Cook Frozen Cabbage?
Soups and Stews
Add frozen cabbage directly to boiling broths or stews. Since the cabbage is already blanched, it will soften fairly quickly. Cook until it reaches your desired level of tenderness.
In a pan with some oil or butter, add the frozen cabbage. If it’s shredded, you can cook it directly. For wedges or larger pieces, consider thawing them partially or fully in the microwave or fridge first.
Sauté until the cabbage is tender and slightly caramelized. Season as desired.
Place frozen cabbage in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. Cover and let steam until tender. This method retains more nutrients compared to boiling.
Season with butter, salt, and pepper or your choice of herbs and spices.
This method is more common for whole leaves, especially if you’re planning to make stuffed cabbage rolls.
Boil water in a large pot, add some salt, then add the frozen cabbage leaves.
Boil until they are tender but still firm enough to handle – this usually takes about 5 minutes for previously blanched cabbage.
Drain and use in your recipe, like for stuffed cabbage rolls.
For frozen cabbage wedges or larger pieces, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings.
Roast in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) until the edges are caramelized and the cabbage is tender.
Methods and Dishes NOT Suitable for Frozen Cabbage:
Frozen cabbage loses its crispness after thawing, making it unsuitable for dishes like coleslaw or fresh cabbage salads, where a crunchy texture is essential.
When grilled, fresh cabbage develops a charred exterior while retaining a crisp interior. Frozen cabbage, on the other hand, might become too soft or mushy due to its increased water content.
If you’re making dishes that require fermentation, like sauerkraut or kimchi, it’s better to use fresh cabbage. The freezing process can alter the cellular structure, which might impact the fermentation process.
For recipes that use cabbage as a wrap or roll and require the cabbage to hold its shape (like fresh spring rolls), frozen cabbage may not be the best choice due to its softer texture.
While sautéing or slow-cooking frozen cabbage can work well, it’s not ideal for quick, high-heat stir-fries. The water content can cause it to steam rather than fry, making it harder to achieve that desired crisp-tender texture.
Preserving cooked cabbage by freezing it is a smart move. It’s a great way to ensure you have a nutritious, convenient ingredient on hand for your meals. Remember, the key to freezing and defrosting cooked cabbage is to properly store and handle it, ensuring its flavor and texture remain as intact as possible. Happy cooking and freezing!