Veg Box Newsletter 28th March: Cabbage


The New System is Here

We hope you’re enjoying using our new website to manage your orders! So far, feedback has been really good, and we hope to keep making it better, so watch this space! If you need help using it, please send us an email and we’ll be more than happy to help. 

Apple Juice

We are discontinuing Oakwood Apple Juice, and switching to James White – still delicious, still organic, still in glass bottles. If you had a bottle of apple juice on your order, it will have been removed. Log in to add a bottle of the James White juice.

Munch of the Month

There’s still time to enter the Munch of the Month competition for April- just post a photo of something you cook using your veg box ingredients on Instagram or in our Facebook group and you could win a hamper of lovely things. Tag the photo with #LocavoreMM and #Locavorevegboxes. 

We’ve Moved!

We loved our old Veg Box HQ in Bellahouston Park, but we ran out of space quite quickly, so we’re pleased to say we’ve now moved into a much bigger warehouse in Oatlands. It means we have a lot more room to keep growing, so look out for a friends and family referral scheme coming soon!  But don’t worry- Locavore has big plans for Bellahouston Nursery, including community plots (apply for one now!) Our florists are already based there, and we had an amazing crop of tomatoes last summer- look out for more veg from Bella in your boxes soon.

In the Veg Boxes This Week

Subject to last minute changes

Check out storage guidance for helpful tips and tricks on how to prolong the life of your fresh produce. If you’re wondering where your veg comes from, have a look at these maps. You can also join your fellow subscribers over in the Facebook group for lots of tips, tricks, and recipe ideas!

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The Nice Bit

Growing up in the UK, cabbage and its brassica cousins (particularly broccoli and brussels sprouts) are the sort of ur-vegetables, the thing you finish only under the threat of not getting afters. Although I doubt many school canteens have served it in the past thirty years, the smell of overboiled cabbage is so strong that it haunts the concept of school dinners still. Cabbage is understood to be good-for-you in that institutional way that pays no mind to such nuances as preparation, taste, texture, delight, culture, or really anything but economics. Vegetables are administered like pills, meant to nurture the body, but also to discipline the child: it is part of the point that they are unpleasant.

Cabbage is a low-status vegetable, in part because it grows so well almost everywhere. Kale and other hardy loose-leafed brassicas might have the edge on them in Scotland, but Chapel Farm in North Berwick nevertheless fills our veg boxes with hefty cabbages all winter, and in the coming week we have spring greens- which are just soft, early cabbages- up from Lincolnshire. In the days of kaleyards, cottage gardens, and commons, poor people in many parts of the world were growing brassicas to eat. And anything eaten primarily by the poor always suffers for it in the cultural imagination, as it becomes representative of poverty. As Evelyne Bloch-Dano writes in Vegetable: A Biography, ‘The strong smell of cabbage constitutes a distinctive, and negative, social symbol. We are at the very heart of the notion of taste—in both senses of the term. The truffle, too, has a strong odor. But in that case, the rarity of the product, beginning in the seventeenth century, made its smell a sign of distinction, even of luxury, whereas the odor of cabbage, a common vegetable, thought of as rural, evoked poverty or crudeness’. This same rurality is transformed, when it is fashionable to do so, into peasant-food simplicity, on which the coolness of kale, and indeed the 90s trend for dieting by restricting yourself to cabbage soup, rely for their cachet. 

All of which isn’t to say that well-boiled cabbage smells good: it generally does not, as its various sulphuric compounds remind our noses of rot. It takes time for these compounds to be released, which is why cooking cabbage quickly doesn’t cause the same problem. Cooking it in oil- frying it or roasting it- also helps, as it keeps the compounds in until they can be denatured by the heat. Cabbage is, really, easy, and versatile: certainly it is easier and more versatile than my beloved kale, than a lot of vegetables we rank so highly. If you don’t like cabbage, that’s completely reasonable and fine and you can email us to add it to your opt-out list. But if you just haven’t given it much thought, if you let the memories (your own memories, or some of those memories belonging to other people that wind up floating through all our minds) of school-dinner cabbage put you off, I urge you to reconsider.

In Tender, Nigel Slater describes cabbages as “beautiful as any rose, as complex and mysterious as any peony”, and sings the praise in particular of cabbage briefly boiled in lots of rapidly boiling salted water: “the colours clear and bright, the leaves singing with life”. This poetic praise reframes tender leaves of fresh cabbage as a delight, a beauty we can all partake in. Cabbages are in season in one form or another most of the year round, and while once the spring greens are gone we will move onto other brassicas for a while (and will enjoy that thoroughly), the dependability of the cabbage means: it will be back. Don’t dread it; look forward to it if you can.

Here are some recipes to help:

  • Okonomiyaki are Japanese cabbage pancakes. You don’t need any specialist ingredients (although you can use some if you like) and can adapt it endlessly. In fact, the word Okomiyaki more or less means “cooked as you like it”, so it’s in the spirit of the thing to follow your whims. It’s a great way to make dinner from not much more than a head of cabbage.
  • Cabbage rolls is a dish traditional in Ukraine and Poland, in which leaves of cabbage are rolled around a filling of rice and mince, then the whole are cooked in a tomato sauce. From River Cottage, a vegetarian version.
  • In this dish, mustard seeds and turmeric bring out the sweetness of cabbage
  • Creamy cabbage with ginger, utterly delicious and rich.
  • Roast chicken with schmaltzy cabbage, for cabbage so caramelised and flavourful you’ll want some crusty bread to mop it up with.