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~ Steaming & Separating Cabbage in the Microwave ~

IMG_3200Being a gal of Eastern European decent, I'm kind of a connoisseur of cabbage.  While cabbage eating isn't limited to Eastern European cuisine, it is indeed associated primarily with it.  In my family alone, from hot side-dishes like butter-braised cabbage and carrots and cabbage and egg noodles, to cold side-salads like creamy cole slaw and vinegary pepper slaw, to main-dish ham, cabbage and potato soup and stuffed cabbage rolls, I do not believe my mother's refrigerator was ever without a head of cabbage in it.  "Kapusta" or "cabbage" was a staple.

Cabbage is a staple in every Eastern European kitchen.

IMG_6742When I was a kid watching my mother and grandmother process cabbage, all I remember thinking was, "this is hard work".  Cabbage, no matter what they were making with it, had to be hand-cut or processed -- there were no short cut methods.  Back then, there were no food processors or microwave ovens.  When it came to steaming the cabbage leaves from the head to make stuffed cabbage rolls, it required carrying a big pot of water from the sink to the stovetop and standing over the steaming pot throughout the process -- it was literally a hot and heavy task.  Sigh.

Fast forward to present day.  I'm a home cook who's never been a huge fan of the microwave -- I've never cooked a meal in it from start-to-finish.  Not even once.  That said, as a serious home cook, I do consider the microwave oven a serious appliance which plays a significant role in the preparation of certain aspects of meal preparation, the reheating of leftovers, and, it sure is a time-savor with regards to certain culinary tasks:  steaming cabbage leaves is one such task.

One head cored cabbage + 1 1/2 cups water in a big bowl.

IMG_3043 2 IMG_3043 2~ Step 1.  Coring the cabbage.  The core is what holds the leaves to the head.  In order for the leaves to separate easily, during and after the steaming process, it is necessary to remove the core.  With a sharp short-bladed coring knife, cut around the core to a depth of 1 1/2"-2", or enough to start a separation of the outer leaves.

IMG_3162 IMG_3162 IMG_3162 IMG_3162 IMG_3162 IMG_3162 IMG_3162 IMG_3162 IMG_3185 IMG_3193 IMG_3193~Step 2.  Microwave-steaming the cabbage leaves.  Place the cored head of cabbage, cored-side down, in a large mixing bowl.  Add 1 1/2 cups water to the bowl.  Do not cover.  Microwave on high for 12 minutes. Remove from microwave.  With the aid of a fork and your fingertips, remove the loose outer leaves (3-4) from the the head.  Return to the microwave, on high, for 4 more minutes.  Remove from microwave and remove more loose outer leaves (4-5). Continue this process of microwaving and removing leaves, 3-4 more times, until the size of the leaves become too small to affectively be of use in the specified recipe.  The steaming process typically takes about 28-34 minutes.

Tip from Mel:  About halfway through the process, use a pair of kitchen shears to trim and remove more of the core, which is now soft.  This will be easy and make removing inner leaves easier.  

Use as directed in specific recipe:

IMG_3197Mom's Crockpot-Casserole-Cooked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls:

IMG_3309Steaming & Separating Cabbage in the Microwave:  Recipe yields instructions to steam and separate leaves from a head of green cabbage using the microwave.

Special Equipment List:  short-bladed coring knife; 1-cup measuring container; large bowl; long-handled fork; kitchen shears

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d26c64c6970cCook's Note:  Throughout Eastern Europe, cooks make a side-dish that basically consists of green cabbage and egg noodles -- my family often added mushrooms too.  It's quick-and-easy, delicious, unpretentious, old-world comfort food.  I simply refer to it as "cabbage and noodles" or "cabbage noodles", because every country has their own ethnic name for it and every cook is adamant that "their people" invented it -- the Eastern Europeans are no different than the French or the Italians in that respect.  Sigh.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


Eva -- Although I have never waited a day, I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't work. My mother and grandmother, who steamed the leaves off in a pot on the stovetop, often waiting until the next day to roll them. ~ Melanie

When I microwave the leaves can I wait to roll the leaves a day later?

Jeanette -- Click into the link for "stuffed cabbage rolls" located in the first paragraph. You'll find the instructions for removing the leaves the old-fashioned way in that post. ~ Melanie.

Thank you for the info
Problem. I don t have a microwave
I do have a slow cooker for the rolls

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