Red Cabbage: All About This Excellent Source Of Flavonoids

Red Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) or purple cabbage is a purple-leaved multi-layered cabbage vegetable from the Brassicaceae and Brassica genus. The plant is closely linked to broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and savoy cabbage.

Red cabbage is an edible with a slightly sweet taste, characterized by the beautiful purple, magenta, or dark purple color of its leaves. It’s native to southern Europe, but we grow it worldwide these days. In this article, we will provide a detailed explanation of what is the red cabbage plant and how we use it.

Red cabbage leaves have a dark red/purple color. But the plant even changes its color according to the soil’s pH value. When the soil is acidic, the leaves grow more reddish, and when the soil is neutral, they get more purple, and when the soil is alkaline, the cabbage will be greenish-yellow in color.

Is Red Cabbage Good For You?

When you cook red cabbage, you’ll notice that it will naturally turn blue. If you want to keep the red color, you should add vinegar to the pot. The plant tastes a lot like green cabbage. The purple cabbage is richer in beneficial compounds with plenty of health benefits, and one of those compounds is flavonoids.

You might be surprised to know that red cabbage’s concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols is more significant than green cabbage’s. This is because the anthocyanins in it act as dietary antioxidants, and they also help with digestive aids. In addition, the plant has protective, preventative, and therapeutic roles in several human diseases.

Common NameRed Cabbage
Botanical NameBrassica Oleracea Var. Capitata F. Rubra
Plant TypeBiennial Plant
Size (Fully Grown)8 To 10 Inches In Diameter (About 20 To 25,5 cm)
Sun ExposurePrefers Full Sun Or Partial Shade
Soil TypeWell-draining Nutrient-rich Soil
Soil pHFrom 6.8 To 7.2
Flower ColorWhite Or Yellow
U.S. Hardiness Zones1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, And 9
Native AreaEurope

Different Red Cabbage Plant Varieties

Red cabbage is a globally known plant, especially for its properties and uses. The vegetable is incredibly versatile, and you can enjoy it, whether raw, cooked, or fermented, and add to your dishes.

The plant has different varieties that provide a tasty, nutritious addition to your kitchen. Growing the plant is an effortless job, and there is a wide variety to choose from, so if you’re ready to grow cabbage, try these:

  1. Rodina
  2. Earliana
  3. Red Acre
  4. Brunswick
  5. Red Rovite
  6. Mohrenkopf
  7. Golden Acre
  8. January King
  9. Late Flat Dutch
  10. Savoy Perfection
  11. Ruby Ball Cabbage
  12. Marner Septemerrot
  13. Mammoth Red Rock
  14. Charleston Wakefield
  15. Red Express Cabbage
  16. January King Cabbage
  17. Ruby Perfection Cabbage

Origins And History Of The Red Cabbage Plant

The exact origin of red cabbage is unknown, but most researchers speculate that they are natively from Europe. There are two types of cabbages, hard-heading type and round-headed. People believe that the hard-headed variety was first grown in Europe.

The first written descriptions about the plant are from the 16th century. And around 600 B.C., wild cabbage was brought to Europe by groups of Celtic wanderers. It was then introduced to Europe by the Romans during the 14th century.

Red cabbage dates to 1570 in England. But, it was mainly used by peasant families as food for both human and livestock consumption. During the 18th century, the plant first appeared in an aristocratic culinary setting.

These days, we grow red cabbage internationally and trade it throughout all the hemispheres, and the most significant producers are America, Northern Europe, and parts of China.

How To Recognize Red Cabbage?

Red cabbage is a delightful vegetable prevalent worldwide for several reasons. The leaves are usually dark red or purple-colored, and the thicker leaves typically have a faintly peppery taste.

Red cabbage is a biennial plant grown as an annual vegetable crop. The plant usually has roots that are thin taproots and a heart-shaped cotyledon. Leaves are oval-shaped with a lobed petiole. The flowers are yellow or white, and each flower has four petals set in a vertical pattern.

© Raquel Pedrosa –

How To Grow Red Cabbage?

The seeds are usually pre-grown indoors. Therefore, a reasonable timeframe to use is eight weeks before the last spring frost. That way, you can perform the transplanting from April to early June.

To grow red cabbage, you need to do some necessary things to help you grow it successfully. Usually, the first thing to do in your outdoor garden is to prepare the soil for sowing or transplanting. If you are transplanting, it means that you have pre-grown the seeds inside.

A good thing to ensure is that the soil is firm enough because this allows the cabbage leaves to grow well. Prepare the rows to contain holes in the planting area, 4 inches (about 10 cm) deep and 12 to 14 inches (about 30 to 36 cm) apart from each other. Also, remember to check that there are approximately 12 inches (about 30 cm) of space between each of the plant rows.

Next, plant the pre-grown seedlings into the holes you prepared. Plant the seedlings firmly and water them well, but make sure you aren’t disturbing the precious roots.

To save your precious time, let’s fast-forward to harvesting—this work you can do after the heads have formed. To ensure that you get the highest yield, cut the cabbage heads when they are still stable, meaning before they crack or split.


Red cabbage is a plant that needs a full sun growth spot, but it can tolerate shade. Still, when you’re planting your seedlings, try to find a sunny place for the best results.


Red cabbage likes to live in moist soil. Doing the watering in the morning is wise because it finds its way to the roots well. When your watering plants like cabbages, always avoid splashing the water on the leaves and water the soil instead. Watering once a week when there has been a prolonged dry period is an excellent thing to do.


The optimal temperature for growing it is between 60 to 65°F (about 15,5 to 18.3°C). However, the plant will still grow pretty well at 45 to 80°F (approximately 7,2 to 26,7°C). But, if it gets warmer than that, there is a significant threat that the plant will bolt.


Red cabbage prefers a soil that drains well, is rich in nutrients, and is high in organic matter. Avoid mud that becomes waterlogged or, conversely, dries out rapidly.


Although fertilizing isn’t necessary when you grow with high-quality soil. But if you are using fertilizers, I recommend using organic ones.

Is It Safe To Eat / Consume Red Cabbages?

Red cabbage is an entirely safe vegetable to eat. It has many health benefits. However, there is still one condition where I recommend you stay away from red cabbage, and this condition is called hypo-thyroids. This, in short, is a condition where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones.

But enough with the hard medical stuff. Next, you might be interested to know if red cabbage is safe to consume when you have some common medical condition. So, let’s move on!

Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women

Veggies like red cabbage are always beneficial for pregnant and breastfeeding women. But I would be grateful if you would use the same precautions with red cabbage as you should with all the other cabbages.

These precautions include avoiding pre-cut cabbages at the supermarket and only buying healthy-looking cabbage heads. Plus, it would be best to wash the cabbages before eating them because of the remaining pesticides. You could also buy or even grow organic red cabbages in your home garden! This way, you can ensure that they don’t contain any harmful pesticides.

So, yes, it’s completely safe to eat (in moderation, of course), and to get as many nutrients from it, eat it while it’s still raw.


Once your children can start to eat solid foods, you can introduce this great nutrient powerhouse to them. One of the reasons I called it a “nutrient powerhouse” is that it strengthens your kids’ bones and boosts their immune system.

But if you have a small child, I advise you to cook them before feeding them to your baby because it’s a lot easier to eat them when they’re soft.

People With Allergies

Even though red cabbage is a magnificent plant, not everyone can eat it. In addition, some people can be allergic to it, although an allergy to this plant isn’t that common.

So, if you experience symptoms like an itching mouth or tongue, runny nose, or start sneezing, there is a big chance that you are allergic to red cabbage. And there is a high possibility that you’re allergic to other cabbages as well.

Some other plants you should be cautious with include beetroot, celery, aubergine, and even peppers.

People With Diabetes

Red cabbage is one of the low starch plants, making it a great addition to your diet if you have diabetes. If cabbages don’t excite you, there are other plants for people with diabetes like broccoli, spinach, and bitter gourd, to name a few.


Red cabbage is entirely safe for your pets, but only feed it in moderate amounts like every other food as well. This is because too much of it can cause gas or suppress the thyroid gland’s functioning, not good.

Featured image credit – © O.V. Photography –

Leave a Comment