Cabbage has been used in more dishes than you’d probably imagine. Usually, you’ll see it on coleslaw salads, especially combined with shredded carrots. At times, it’s used in Mediterranean stews like the cocido madrileño and many other international dishes. It’s also packed with nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and folate, among many others! Red cabbage is generally thought to be richer in nutrients than green cabbage, but you won’t miss out on much either way. Normally, one cabbage heads can last you for several meals. Sometimes, you may worry if you’ll be able to use it all before it goes bad. And you start thinking about how to preserve it for a longer term. Can you freeze raw cabbage? How long does uncooked cabbage last in the fridge?
You can freeze raw cabbage. But you should not freeze it “raw” or uncooked which I’ll explain what I mean shortly.
The first thing is wash and rinse the raw cabbage. You should probably soak it in saltwater for around 3 minutes.
Then, it’s highly recommended that you blanch the cabbage. It might partially cook the cabbage, but blanching inactivates the enzymes responsible for quality loss in most vegetables. You could theoretically freeze it without blanching, but it will degrade much quicker in the freezer. To blanch, immerse the cabbage head in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, then withdraw it and throw it into a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process. Wait a couple more minutes and pull the cabbage out of the bowl.
Whether you blanched it or not, it’s important that you place the cabbage in a strainer or colander to drain any excess liquid. You may additionally use a paper or cloth towel to gently remove moisture.
Next, portion out the cabbage. You can do it by dicing it, slicing it, or shredding it. It is advisable to portion the cabbage since you wouldn’t want to thaw a whole cabbage head only to use a piece. You can alternatively skip the portioning process and wrap the head in several layers of plastic wrap, making sure to leave no gap behind to avoid freezer burn. If you went ahead and cut it up, transfer the portions into airtight freezer bags or containers, seal them after squeezing out all the air, and, finally, stow them in the freezer.
Freezing definitely affects the taste of raw vegetables, considering the high amount of water they contain. Cabbage is definitely no exception. It can still be usable but it probably won’t fit with most raw salads since it loses that extra crispiness that fresh cabbage has.
You should definitely avoid freezing already thawed cabbage since the consistency will definitely get ruined. The moisture released during the defrosting period will eventually turn into ice crystals that affect the cellular structure of the vegetable and render it soggy. If it was only partially thawed in the refrigerator, you may try your luck, but my best advice is that you use it all.
Cabbage is known to last exceptionally long in the fridge. At a temperature of 40º F or lower, it should retain its edible state for a period of 2 weeks. At times, it could even get to a full 2 months before starting to go bad, though after the 2nd to 3rd week, the quality may suffer a bit.
In the freezer, cabbage shouldn’t go bad, but it may start to lose its pristine conditions after 8 weeks. If you blanch it, you may be able to preserve it for a whopping 9 months.
As with most vegetables, you have 3 defrosting techniques to choose from: the tried-and-true refrigerator method, the cold water method, and the microwave method. When thawed in the refrigerator, the bacterial activity will be severely slowed down, but the defrosting process will also be awfully long. If you want to speed things up, submerging the package into cold water may work, although you should make sure to keep the water cold in the entire process. If you opt to use the microwave’s defrost function, make sure not to overheat the cabbage and to use it right after.
You should avoid thawing your cabbage over the counter. Cabbage is a very bacteria-friendly vegetable and you will definitely attract some unwanted “guests” to it, leading you to contract foodborne illnesses.
The good thing about frozen cabbage is that you don’t even need to thaw it. Most cooked recipes will not be thoroughly affected if you add frozen cabbage to the mix. In some cases, it is encouraged that you at least thaw it partially (e.g., for cabbage rolls), but it’s not absolutely necessary.