Why You Need To Thoroughly Rinse Cabbage

Sure, we tend to rinse romaine lettuce and broccoli before we use them, but does cabbage really need to be cleaned? After all, no one rinses an onion because the layers are so close that there's hardly any dirt to remove between them. Following this logic, the tightly compacted layers of a head of cabbage can be seen in the same light — and many settle for simply removing all the bruised outer leaves for a clean and ready cabbage.

But is this actually enough? Some state that it is, especially in the case of preparing cabbage for sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage (via Better Homesteading). However, even when you are fermenting cabbage, rinsing it thoroughly might be more hygienic in the end. 

Depending on the dish you're preparing, there are many methods for rinsing cabbage that will make it less tedious than you think. To the naked eye, the outer leaves appear to be a protective barrier of skin for the inner layers of the cabbage, but this is not always the case.

Cabbage layers could have bugs and bacteria

Yes, even a compact head of cabbage can have bugs squirming in its small crevices. Furthermore, Better Homesteading states that cabbage and other vegetables have natural bacteria and yeasts present throughout, which is why some believe that you'd better not rinse your cabbage for sauerkraut (fermentation thrives on natural bacteria). But, in addition to these potentially harmful impurities, there is the more pressing issue of pesticides and chemicals.

If you want to prepare your cabbage so that it is completely safe to eat, there are several methods that make cleaning quick and easy — and all processes begin with removing the outer leaves of the cabbage, as they are often bruised or visibly streaked with dirt. If you want cabbage wedges, you'll cut the head into your desired size and dunk them into cool water. To ensure that you get rid of bacteria and bugs, add vinegar into your water bath, around a half cup of vinegar per each cup of water, per Colorado State University USDA. If you need shredded cabbage, dunk your pre-cut cabbage into a cool water bath and let it drain, per Martha Stewart, who notes that your cabbage could even be infested with worms. 

Both methods require no arduous peeling and they don't add much labor to cutting your cabbage for your dish. So, if you don't want to see a bug in your coleslaw, make sure to thoroughly rinse the inside of your cabbage.