Savoy – King of Cabbages

I had an old packet of Savoy Cabbage seeds that had gone a few years out of date but couldn’t bring myself to throw them out without giving them one last chance at life.    The germination rate wasn’t good but half a dozen seedlings emerged that seemed strong and healthy so they were dutifully planted out in to the veggie patch in early spring.

Savoy cabbage

Savoy cabbage – distinctive crinkly leaves

Not everything went to plan but I did end up discovering a great new recipe.

#1. These are large headed cabbages so they need to be spaced wider apart than a regular Sugarloaf Cabbage – I’d say that an extra 20 centimetres all round would be good.

#2. If you don’t give them space then the restricted airflow will encourage disease and pests.  In this case it was cabbage aphids which hide in the folds close to the stem and in the underside crinkles so are not easy to spot.  When I eventually discovered the cause of the brown leaf edges I gave the plants a good blast with a water jet which dislodged around half of the infestation then sprayed twice with Confidor – ensuring it got into all the tiny crevices.

Cabbage aphid

Cabbage aphid – Brevicoryne brassicae

They soon regained some vigour and hearted up nicely, so as this was my first time with Savoys I needed a recipe to try out and found this in an old (falling apart and faded) cookbook of my mum’s, circa. 1929

#3. Cabbage Rolls: (an cooked Eastern European version of the Chinese dish San Chow Bow)

(First of all I washed the cabbage heads thoroughly in running water and individually washed each leaf as it was broken off from the stem.  This is good practice for any harvested vegetable that has been previously sprayed with chemicals.)

Drop some cabbage leaves into boiling water for 2-3 mins to soften them up and remove the stiff stem part of the leaf.

Mix minced beef and sausage meat with a chopped onion, add salt and pepper, a dollop or two of tomato puree and one egg then mix thoroughly with your hands.  Then shape a handful into small sausage shapes and roll into the cabbage leaf which should now be soft enough to stay closed after wrapping.  If not then secure with a cocktail stick.

Cabbage rolls

Cabbage rolls – Eastern European dish full of goodness

Place into a skillet and cover with a can of tomato soup then let simmer for 30-40 mins.  (an alternative is to simmer in a little beef or chicken stock instead of the tomato soup – less oomphf, but still very tasty).

Author: Bob Saunders (

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