Of all the lovely specimens that cookbook writer James Peterson could have featured on the book jacket of his most recent revision of “Vegetables,” he ran with a naked shot of a shapely savoy cabbage. He writes that because cabbage grows well in colder climes, it has, by necessity, become a humble staple in wintery places.

Here in Maine, farmers like Mary Margaret Ripley of Ripley Farm in Dover-Foxcroft are choosing to grow winter cabbage varieties including Storage No. 4, a basic green cabbage; Ruby Perfection, a red cabbage; and Deadon, a savoy with crinkly purple outer leaves and lime-green inner ones. These varieties stay in the ground until early December and are harvested after a few good frosts, which help make them sweeter. They yield smaller, harder heads than some other varieties and can be stored in root cellars and walk-in coolers in ideal conditions (between 32 and 40 degrees with 80 to 90 percent relative humidity, according to the Maine Organic Gardeners and Farmers Association) for up to six months.

Farmers sell fresh cabbage at indoor markets and distribute them through winter community-supported agriculture, or CSA, shares until March. And cabbage-driven, value-added products like Morse’s sauerkraut, made in North Waldoboro, and Thirty Acre Farm’s kimchi, made in Whitefield, are popping up in retail locations statewide.

“Cabbage is one of those vegetables that customers need quite a bit of direction on,” Ripley said, no doubt why she has posted 16 cabbage recipes on the farm’s website.

There are more homemade kimchi recipes floating around these days than there are heads of cabbages in Maine; the spicy, fermented cabbage mix has been eaten since ancient times in Korea (but in the United States mostly since Momofuku and David Chang). Should you want to make it yourself, try Ripley’s recipe, which involves mixing roughly chopped cabbage with grated carrots and radishes, minced onion, garlic and ginger to suit your taste, a heaping tablespoon of salt and as many chili pepper flakes as you can stomach. You then stuff that mixture into a quart jar, leaving an inch of head room before screwing on the cap. It sits on the counter for a couple of days and then goes into the refrigerator for use in everything from scrambled eggs to kimchi ramen.

So, truly, just because it’s abundant, local cabbage doesn’t have to be boring.


This recipe is adapted from one published by Colorado-based bloggers Kelsey Brown and Shaun Boyte on their blog, happyolks.com. Remember the cabbage soup diet of the 1950s? That was bland and slimy. This is nothing like it.

Serves 2

½ cup sweet onion slices

¼ cup apple slices

¼ cup sliced shallots

3 lemon slices

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced

5 crushed garlic cloves

1½ cups kimchi

3 tablespoons white miso

2 cups cooked ramen or soba noodles

1 cup shaved cabbage

½ cup sliced scallions (green parts only)

2 eggs

Combine 4 cups water with onion, apple, shallots, lemon, ginger, garlic and ½ cup kimchi in a medium saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in miso and keep warm over very low heat.

Divide noodles, fresh cabbage, remaining kimchi and scallions between two bowls. Fry eggs to desired doneness. Pour 2 cups of hot broth into each bowl and top each serving with a fried egg.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, recipe developer and tester, and cooking teacher in Brunswick. Contact her at [email protected]

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