The real difference between red and green cabbage

Cabbage can be used in many different styles of cooking, but the kind of cabbage you get matters, as each has its own properties and strengths that work better in different applications. Bon Appetit says there are really only four types of cabbage you need to know; green cabbage, red cabbage, Napa cabbage, and savoy cabbage. Green, Napa, and savoy cabbages are all green in color, while red cabbage is the only "red" option on their list. 

The Spruce suggests looking for a cabbage that feels heavy for its size when selecting one to purchase, except in the case of Napa cabbage. While you don't want to choose a cabbage that is severely damaged, cabbage heads do not need to be perfect, as you can simply remove the blemished outer leaves when you are ready to cook. According to Time, cabbage can stay fresh for up to two months if properly stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic.

How to differentiate between these four common cabbage varieties

The Kitchn gives a run down on all four of the cabbages from Bon Appetit's cabbages-to-know list. They claim green cabbage is the most basic, and likely what people picture when they hear the word "cabbage." Raw, green cabbage has a light and slightly peppery flavor that will calm as it is cooked. They suggest eating raw green cabbage thinly sliced in salads or slaws, and roasting or grilling thick wedges. 

Interestingly, red cabbage can be swapped for green cabbage in most recipes that simply call for "green cabbage" as the two are actually very similar in flavor and form. Red cabbage's vibrant hue adds a nice pop to many dishes, but beware, this color can seep out, staining the other ingredients in your dish. 

Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage, is more of an oval shape than red and green cabbages. Napa cabbage has tender, frilly, yellow-green leaves and a sweeter flavor. The Kitchn suggests using Napa cabbage when you are looking for a milder cabbage taste, cooked in dishes like dumplings or stir-fries, and raw in salads. 

The final cabbage type listed is savoy cabbage. This cabbage is similar in shape to red and green cabbages, but has a much darker, deep-green color. The flavor is mild, and its leaves are much less crisp than other cabbage varieties. For this reason, they state that savoy cabbage is best when roasted or sauteed.