One of our staple foods -- even without refrigeration, cabbage will last a month or more!

Cabbage Lasts Forever

Cabbage is a staple for us on the boat. Not only is it good for you but it lasts well over a month without refrigeration and adds some crunch to meals.

Storing Cabbage

Cabbage needs no special storage at all. Just stick the head somewhere that it won’t get too bumped around. Some people recommend wrapping it in newspaper; I’ve never even done that. And it does really well without being refrigerated.

Don’t put it in a plastic bag, as condensation will form and then the cabbage will mold and rot.

If you can get cabbage that hasn’t been refrigerated, that’s best as condensate won’t form on the outside leaves. Most of the time, though, I’m buying cabbage in the grocery store and it’s been chilled. By storing it just out in the open, I’ve never had a problem — the condensate just evaporates.

This head of cabbage had been in my hanging veggie bins for just over a month when I cut into it. I hadn’t done anything special to it — just brought it home and stuck it in the bin.

Cabbage: One of our staple foods -- even without refrigeration, cabbage will last a month or more!

Good For You

Cabbage is a good source of Vitamin C (one serving gives 54% of the daily requirement), Vitamin K (85%) and fiber, with almost no calories.

If you’re cruising in remote locations, with a lot of canned vegetables, dietary fiber can be hard to get and digestion can suffer as a result. Both diarrhea and constipation can be problems and the fiber in cabbage can help with both.

Add Crunch to Your Meals

Whether you’re crossing an ocean or just cruising in remote locations without easy access to grocery stores, one of the biggest complaints is a lack of texture and crunch in foods as the stores of fresh veggies are used up.

Cabbage salads add the needed crunch and texture. If the cabbage seems a little wilted, soak it in water for 20 minutes to an hour and it will crisp back up (it wilts as the water in it evaporates and soaking lets it reabsorb water). Chopping it first will speed up the crisping, but it’s harder to dry it off if it’s chopped first.

More Info

I store many of my veggies outside the refrigeration — it’s so tiny that I have to!

Storing Veggies without Refrigeration Quick ReferenceA while back, I made a cheat sheet for storing veggies without refrigeration — notes on how to store various things and how long they’ll last. It’s really just the tip of the iceberg as far as storing food without refrigeration goes, but I’m happy to share it.

Want a copy of the Storing Veggies without Refrigeration Quick Reference Guide? I prettied up the one I made for myself and turned it into a FREE downloadable PDF. Get it here:

One of our staple foods -- even without refrigeration, cabbage will last a month or more! Plus it adds crunch, Vitamin C and fiber.

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  • Rick Garvin
    Posted at 08 June 2015 Reply

    Christine, time for cabbage salad!

    • Christine Johnbrier
      Posted at 08 June 2015 Reply

      We were just talking about this last night!

      • RickG
        Posted at 22 June 2015 Reply

        The Asian Cabbage Salad was a hit. Adding peanuts was great.

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 08 June 2015 Reply

    Cabbages are good.

  • CandynTony Kiesel
    Posted at 08 June 2015 Reply

    We used your advice about this when we went to the Exumas for a couple of months and it worked beautifully!! Thanks for the info.

  • Peggy
    Posted at 08 June 2015 Reply

    You can also make fresh sauerkraut on board – ridiculously easy to do & keeps well with or without refrigeration. Here’s a link to the method I use:

    My only change is that I always cover the shredded cabbage with extra brine to at least an inch over, just b/c it helps maintain the anaerobic conditions ideal for fermentation. I’ve been making this all winter & the results are wonderful!

    • RuralGrl
      Posted at 09 June 2015 Reply

      What a great way to make a smaller quantity of sauerkraut for the boat! I’m with you about leaving the brine over the top to maintain anaerobic conditions for fermentation. Thanks for posting this link!

  • Frank Stevens
    Posted at 08 June 2015 Reply

    Is that why my mother threatened to chop off my head and replace it with a cabbage if I continued to be naughty ? Maybe she was really being kind and just wanted me to last forever…..It’s so easy to misjudge people isn’t it .

  • RuralGrl
    Posted at 09 June 2015 Reply

    It’s great to know that cabbage will keep like this. Since we tried the recipe for fish tacos with shredded cabbage (with Carolyn’s wonderful taco seasoning and sauce), that’s the way we all want it now!

  • brad
    Posted at 11 June 2015 Reply

    i like “THE PERFECT PICKLER” – an airlock that fits onto a canning jar – wide mouth. You take your ORGANIC cabbage (so pesticides aren’t sprayed on it in the store and elsewhere to kill the good organisms that you need in your intestines to survive) and follow the instructions to ferment it into sauerkraut – you have tons of recipes to vary tastes and avoid the normal sauerkraut (or do peppers, etc for other varieties of raw fermented foods)
    The fermented foods keep well – but the probiotics are AWESOME. Cutting edge science is using probiotics and intestinal flora re-balancing to ELIMINATE type II diabetes, improve neural issues like MS and alzheimers, etc. GREAT health item – all the raw, fermented foods, and when you realize one tablespoon can have trillions of good guys int it – the amount of real probiotics and cost vs supplements is impressive. In a good way, lol.

  • Elinore Craig
    Posted at 30 September 2015 Reply

    Once you cut the cabbage do you still leave it unrefrigerated?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 30 September 2015 Reply

      Yes. If the edges get a little brown/black, I just cut a very thin slice off before using.

      • Elinore
        Posted at 01 October 2015 Reply

        Thanks Carolyn! I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but we are first-time cruisers leaving on Nakamal, our Island Packet 380 in the Baja HaHa at the end of October. We made the decision to “just do it” and take up the cruising lifestyle a couple years ago. Even before we bought our boat in October 2014 I had started collecting articles about managing the galley on board and have been a regular consumer of your articles ever since I discovered your website. We moved aboard in Jan of this year so I’ve been able to tweak many of my original galley plans before we take off. Thanks for the constant flow of information and all the time you put into it. I can’t wait to start road testing all the ideas I’ve put into use!

        Elinore, First Mate, Chief Provisioning Officer and Galley Wench
        S/V Nakamal

        • Carolyn Shearlock
          Posted at 01 October 2015 Reply

          Thanks so much — comments like yours make my day!

          Have a great time on the Ha-Ha and in Mexico. We loved our time there!

  • Wheels To Keels
    Posted at 25 March 2016 Reply

    What a great article! My husband doesn’t like nuts in his salad, but would like some more varied texture. Cabbage sounds like the solution!

  • Rick Garvin
    Posted at 25 March 2016 Reply

    Your Asian Cabbage Salad recipe is a staple for us.

  • Page Escallier
    Posted at 25 March 2016 Reply

    Us too. Very versatile!

  • Dave Skolnick
    Posted at 25 March 2016 Reply

    Many of us grew up with cabbage = cole slaw but it is so very much more versatile.

  • Rich Acuti
    Posted at 25 March 2016 Reply

    Mmmm…red cabbage and spatzle!

  • Dan N Jaye
    Posted at 25 March 2016 Reply

    Interesting how many cultures around the world use cabbage.

  • Deanna Roozendaal
    Posted at 25 March 2016 Reply

    Your advice needed, Carolyn. I’m in La Cruz, Mexico, waiting for a weather window for our 3 week+ passage to French Polynesia. I bought unrefridgerated cabbage from a farm market, and the outer leaves started getting black spots after only a week. I stored the cabbages a dry, ventilated plastic bin in the aft cabin of my catamaran, and now they’re in the fridge. I’m disappointed, as I thought they’d last outside the fridge. Advice?

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 26 March 2016 Reply

      Were the insides still okay? The outer leaves usually get a little dry or sometimes spotty, but if I take the outer couple off, they are fine inside. (I don’t take the outside ones off until we’re ready to start using the head, because if you do, then the next few will go bad and so on until there’s nothing left of the head of lettuce>) We’ve cruised there and I can’t imagine it’s any more humid there than it is here in the Florida Keys (in fact, I’m certain it’s less humid) and temps are likely similar. The only other cause that I can think of is bugs.

      I literally do NOTHING to the cabbage when I store it out of the refrig — don’t wash it until I use it — and it does really well. I know some people say to wrap the heads in newspaper, I don’t even do that, but you might try it to see if it helps.

      Have a great Puddle Jump!

  • Tawnya Feudi
    Posted at 17 July 2017 Reply

    Louis A. Feudi

  • Anne Ashmore
    Posted at 18 July 2017 Reply

    I discovered this too! When the fresh greens run out, there’s always the cabbage to cook or make coleslaw!!

  • John Herlig
    Posted at 18 July 2017 Reply

    I would be dead without kimchi, and on the boat I make it from good old traditional green cabbage. The best!!

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