Video: What to Look for in Choosing Storage Cabbage Varieties

Storage Cabbage: Key characteristics & differentiators with Steve Bellavia, Vegetable Product Manager for Johnny's

I'm Steve Bellavia, the product manager at Johnny's for most of the heading Brassica crops. Today we're here to discuss green storage cabbage.

First, a few comments about storage cabbage that you might find at your local grocery store. These varieties have often been primarily bred for extremely long storage, yield, and ease of growing, rather than eating quality. So this is why this the cabbages you get in the supermarket are often disappointing to eat, and sometimes they're rather tough and have poor flavor.

These 3 storage cabbage varieties here have been in storage for the last 6 months, and that's why the leaves are a little brown on the outside.

'Promise' was introduced in 2022, and it's my personal favorite. Its flavor is even a bit better than Storage No. 4. I find it to be just as tender and succulent, but perhaps a bit sweeter. It also stores very well into early spring or even later, under optimal conditions. It's also great for slaws, cooking and kraut. If you space the seedlings 18" apart you'll get heads around this size, about 6½ pounds. If you space the seedlings 24" apart you can get big, 9–10-pound heads like this, which are excellent for making sauerkraut.

'Storage No. 4' is our old standby, which we've been offering since 1993. Head size varies from 4–8 pounds, and they store very well. The leaves are tender, juicy and succulent, and are excellent for slaws, cooking, or processing into kraut. We offer conventional untreated seeds of 'Storage No. 4'.

'Typhoon' is our only storage variety available as organic seed. It is very good eating, but not quite as good as 'Promise' or 'Storage No. 4'. It makes an excellent choice for kraut as it has a high dry matter content. A high dry matter content means it has a lower moisture or water content, and thus makes more kraut for the same amount of cabbage. Its heads are quite large, and often will weigh in at 9–10 pounds.

Here's a head of 'Storage No. 4' right out of storage, and you can see it's a little brown on the outer leaves, but if you just take off the first couple of layers of leaves you'll have a nice head of cabbage. You take two two layers of leaves off and the head's really nice and fresh again.

Here are a few growing tips for a storage cabbage:

  • For heads on the smaller size, transplant seedlings 18" apart, and for big heads for kraut production, transplant 24" apart.
  • Storage cabbages will store best when they mature just before fall temperatures drop to around 25°F (-4°C).
  • At our research farm in Maine, this means we start the seedlings in mid-June, transplant them in late July, and harvest heads in mid-October. You can adjust your dates based on your local conditions. If you are unsure of when to sow the seeds in your area, consult your local Cooperative Extension agent for guidance.

Here are some storage tips:

  • Cabbage stores very well into early spring or even later under optimal conditions of 32–36°F (0–2°C), with a relative humidity of at least 90%. If you don't have these conditions, don't worry; you can store them in a root cellar or other cool, humid area. I live in an old house with an old-fashioned dirt floor cellar, where the temperature is often in the mid to high 40s, and my cabbage still store very well into early spring.

I'd like to thank you for your time, and whether you're growing cabbages for yourself or for fresh-market sales, we wish you the best of luck.