finely chopped purple cabbage in a wooden plate. on a brown wooden background.

Cabbage sometimes has a mildly bitter flavor. Cooking eliminates the bitterness, but not all recipes require cooked cabbage. If your cabbage tastes bitter and you plan to use it raw or in a salad, such as coleslaw, draw the bitterness out before you serve it. The bitter flavor mainly resides in the liquid inside the cabbage leaves. Drawing out the excess liquid also makes your cabbage more crisp, giving it a pleasant texture when you serve it raw.

Peel the outer leaves off the cabbage. Cut out the core; discard it and the outer leaves.

Cut the cabbage into quarters. Separate the leaves in each quarter.

Stack the leaves to a 2-inch depth inside a large dish. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. salt over the leaves. Continue to stack and salt the cabbage leaves until they are all in the dish.

Place the dish of salted cabbage leaves in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. The salt draws the bitterness out of the leaves.

Place the cabbage in a colander. Rinse thoroughly under cold water, washing away the excess salt and the bitter liquid the salt drew out of the cabbage leaves.


Some cabbages are less bitter than others. Napa varieties are less bitter, while red cabbages have a stronger bitter flavor.