Technique: How to blanch cabbage for rolls

Cabbages, like onions, are made of tightly wound layers. Leaves of cabbage want and need to be softened so that they are pliable enough to be pulled off of the head and rolled up with stuffing.

Here’s the simple blanching process:

Pierce the core of your fresh cabbage, tough outer leaves removed, with a two-pronged fork. Think fondue.

Get a big pot. Fill the pot up half way with water. Bring the water to a boil. Salt the water.

Place a colander over a sheet pan next to the stove.

Place the head of cabbage in the water with the fork and turn it all around to blanch the outer leaves. As the cabbage softens (a minute or two), lift the head from the water. Let the water run out of it. Use a paring knife to cut away the outer leaves over the colander, leaving them in the colander to drain.

Place the cabbage back into the boiling water and repeat, cutting off all of the layers of leaves until you’ve reached the core of the cabbage where the leaves are too small and curly to use.

There will be about 20 leaves, some of them technicolor green, others yellow. All good.

Additional note: During this process, don’t drop your beautiful but demonic camera on the kitchen floor, watching it slam against the dishwasher as it goes down, or else the camera will go dark and you’ll have to stop making cabbage rolls and slam your own head against the dishwasher in disbelief, then drive all the way to Traverse City the next morning to either get it fixed (if you’re lucky) or buy a new one (if you’re not).

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8 Responses to Technique: How to blanch cabbage for rolls

  1. i hope you didn’t drop your camera !

  2. Janet Moore says:

    Boy, does that look good. What??? You dropped your camera AGAIN?? I am going to get you a strap for around your neck!! One quick tip I learned from my mom. Cut the core out of the cabbage and when the leaves soften, your able to use your tongs and pull them out one at a time because the fall away from the head as they soften.
    What time is dinner??

  3. Geralyn Lasher says:

    Okay that makes much more sense than how Aunt Gladys taught me. She had me blanch each leaf individually–which I dutifully did–but your method sounds like it would work out better. I can’t wait to read your next installment!

  4. Gerald Wakeen says:

    Interesting, cabbage rolls are my favorite.
    Grape leaf rolls are good too but I don’t usually eat them as heavily as the cabbage rolls.
    When mom used to make them, a large kettle full, we kids would keep asking if they were done yet, the smell made us very hungry. She would eventually serve it asking if the rice was done, we always said yes but frankly I got used to eating somewhat crunchy rice…..didn’t care, a great dish (tomato based in our case).
    And with cabbage rolls I often to this day eat only the rolls as the main dish. It is not unusual for me to eat three or even more. Never knew for sure if the leafs were blanched or not, I should have guessed but never noticed how they were prepared.

    I saved my camera and accessory equipment once, when returning home from an outing I had my arms full of various camera items, I tried to jump over the trailer hitch at the back of the car, caught my foot, started to fall but refused to let go of the camera. I went down on concrete with both elbows, camera was safe, I was wiser and of course much younger. I wouldn’t survive a fall like that today. Good luck with the repairs.

  5. Diane Nassir says:

    Maureen, laughing out loud–what is it about cabbage rolls that is so amusing–but then again, I guess it is about you and your camera–love your column and all the comments–and I LOVE cabbage rolls, and with or without luban–I agree with Gerald, I like them even more than grape leaves. And Janet, my mother used that technique also. Would be fun if we could all meet over a pot of stuffed cabbage. Never stop writing Maureen–you bring smiles to my heart.

  6. I, too,enjoyed the camera story, maybe a tripod? I learned to make cabage rolls from my my Granny. There were five of us cousins that lived on their property. She loved to tell the story of the day she was having a Home Demonstration party and the five cousins ate all of the cabbage that she had made for her party!
    I will try the fork and knife and maybe not burn my fingers. Thanks

  7. Maureen, laughing just as much as I did a year ago–now I have to make some coosa–

  8. Rick Kelly says:

    Very effective technique!


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