Saturday, June 21, 2014

Celebrating Chinese Cabbage

I noticed on Thursday that two Michihili cabbages were bolting pretty badly. How did I miss this? So I waited until Friday morning to pick them. Greens are always better picked after watering and in the morning.

The Napa cabbage (short ones) weren't destroyed by the earwigs for the first time in years. Was it the cold? Or was it the biochar (very ashy and probably repelled the insects early on)? They were just starting to get in though. I had to peel back a bit of the heads to get rid of them.

I had a question posed to me, weirdly on another blog, about harvesting Chinese cabbage that hasn't headed. Sometimes a head won't form before it bolts (like two of the three Michihilis this spring). I find it common for Michihilis to not form heads in the spring. Their heads are much more reliable in the fall. Occasionally Napas won't, but they are better than Michihilis and again, it is easier in the fall. But you don't need a head to have the cabbage edible. It is nice and sweet if it was blanched at all and even the dark green more prickly parts are good in soups. I'm guessing they are even better for you than the blanched parts. All edible and all tasty.

Nice blanched Napa cabbage on left. Unblanched Michihili leaves on right. Both frozen for the winter.

So you can eat more of that head than is traditional. I do tend to toss out the outermost leaves. But on the Michihili head above you can see I kept some of the dark green parts there. And I cut some off in the middle as the bottom was blanched and the top not so much. I also kept a lot of the larger more outer leaves which you see above. They were blanched (the boiling type of blanching this time) and frozen for winter soups. They will be perfect for that. And will have lots of flavor. That wonderful mustard flavor really tends to come out when a cabbage is bolting. If you are like me, that is a good thing. So I never regret my bolting Chinese cabbages. I celebrate them.

Though just to be clear I am keeping those nice heads too. Those are great because they store so long. I've wrapped them in towels in plastic bags in the fridge. Chinese cabbage can last up to about two months in the fridge. I've had some last longer. But better to eat them faster.

One of the bolting Michihili cabbages had a whole bunch of nice little flower shoots. These make good eating. The other was too destroyed by earwigs. I'd never had earwigs in the Michihili this bad before. The seed for the undestroyed head was from old seed from Mac years ago. I wish I knew what variety this was and where I could buy more. The Green Rocket sold by Pinetree doesn't grow as big and the earwigs love it like they do the Napa. So I'm still on a Michihili search.

After pulling (I left one Napa in and now I'm regretting it), I have a partially empty bed. My plan says to grow pole beans and bush beans, but I'm not going to grow many beans because I don't even know if I can eat them now. So instead I seeded some of it in carrots. As more of the bed gets harvested, I'll seed more carrots. I might put a few beans in later, but I'm not sure yet.


  1. Those are some humongous cabbages - I'm not sure I would know what to do with it all. BTW - great tip on harvesting greens after watering & in the morning - I had never really thought about that.

  2. The cabbage looks great! I will have to try growing it next year! That is the great thing about gardening, there is always something new to try.