Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dehydrated Cabbage Rolls – Mamma Wasn’t Always Right !

Cabbage Rolls

When I was a kid, occasionally my mom made cabbage rolls.  She separated the leaves by gently separating them under running water and then steaming them.  When I recently decided to experiment with cabbage rolls, I did the same thing.  What a tedious process.  No wonder she rarely made them! 


One of the problems is that you can only use the very biggest leaves, which are sometimes a bit tough. I had a problem with leaves tearing.  The worst of it... as I spent fifteen minutes running gallons of water from my tap... was thoughts of our water meter clicking away with wasted water.  A real concern when you live in an arid climate. Water is the most expensive utility we have out here.  


Another problem is the extra step of steaming the leaves after you’ve finally gotten them separated. 

I just knew there had to be an easier way, so I got on line and searched around. Sure enough, there is a super-easy way to do it. I’ll never again use the running water method and we will definitely have cabbage rolls more often.
This next method may be obvious to many of you. But I figure if at 63, I made it this far in life without learning this easy method, there could be others who also don’t know the easy way to do this.
Stick a Cooking Fork in It

First, stick a cooking fork in the cabbage. This is to hold it in hot water while you work with it. Notice that this is the inner part of the cabbage. It is what remains from when I was trying the running water method of separating the leaves. I was delighted to see how much more of the cabbage I could actually use for my cabbage rolls.

Boiling Water

Submerge the cabbage in boiling water.  Hold it in for several minutes.

Cut the Stem
As you are loosening the leaves, take a paring knife and cut the edge off the thickest part of the stem. The leaves will come apart much easier.  Also, if you jiggle or spin the fork while the cabbage is submerged, more leaves will work their way loose as they begin to cook and get tender.  They will tend to just slough off.  How easy is that!

Now, back to the processing:
When I was working on the first batch of leaves (using the running water technique)  I still had quite a bit to do.
First Batch
These were my first batch of steamed leaves.

Cut the Stems

I still needed to cut the heavy stem part from those leaves after steaming.

Outer Leaves 

The outer leaves on this head were so large, I was able to cut them from the stem and still have plenty to use for making rolls.

Inner Leaves

Notice these are lighter than the outer leaves.  They are also more tender.


9/7/12 dehydrated cabbage rolls 11

Ready to Store

9/7/12 dehydrated cabbage rolls 12


When you’re ready to use them, simply drop those leaves in boiling water for a few minutes. They will rehydrate and be ready to stuff. 

Linda’s Note: By planning ahead, you are not limited to boiled cabbage, soups, and slaw.  If you dehydrate whole cabbage leaves you can stuff them will all sorts of things. 

Uses for dehydrated cabbage leaves:
  • Stuff them with your favorite meat/rice/bean fillings. Place in a baking dish and cover with your favorite tomato or spaghetti sauce. Bake at 350º for 30 to 45 minutes. Top with your favorite grated cheese and pop back into oven until cheese is melted.
  • Got a leftover casserole of some sort? Try stuffing your cabbage leaves with it.
  • Be creative! Be adventurous!  Try stuffing your leaves with all sorts of things.
  • Interesting combinations:
    • Meat & cheese
    • Leftover corned beef
    • Meat & rice
    • Beans & cheese
    • Beans & rice
    • Cooked grains; barley, wheat berries, etc. mix with egg to hold it together
    • Grains and cheese
    • Diced peppers and anything
  • Sauces to cook them in:
    • Any type of spaghetti sauce
    • Favorite tomato sauce recipe
    • Diluted cream-of-whatever soup


You are limited only by your imagination!




  1. Great info on how to separate the leaves from the head. Another thought, also, is that many folks who grow cabbage in their garden will use the very large outside leaves from the plants, that otherwise would just be tossed.

  2. Hi! We always just put the whole cabbage into boiling water and pull leaves off as they soften. I never thought of dehydrating the whole leaves! I wonder if you put something heavy on the leaves as you dehydrate them if they would dry flat and then you could storea lot more in a container?

    1. Hi Kathy,

      That's an interesting concept. (doncha love it when great minds get together!)ButI'm not sure if it would make much difference.

      My whole leaves dried flat, just like in the picture. They are pretty fragile and will break easily until they are rehydrated. My biggest issue is finding a way to store them to keep them from crushing until I'm ready to use them.

      I have some square kitty litter buckets with lids (they are food safe - I checked) I think I'm going to store mine on one of them in gallon freezer bags until I'm ready to package them for long term storage.

      Still deciding on what combination of dehydrated ground beef, veggies, and sauces to put with them in meal-sized packages.

  3. Since publishing this article in 2012 have you determined how many minutes? 'Submerge the cabbage in boiling water. Hold it in for several minutes.' I have 200 cabbages in my garden that I will be harvesting soon & want to make the best of it. Thank you for posting Linda & many blessings your way!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. HI Jennifer,

      Thanks for writing. Gosh, I can't believe it's been two years! I've spent the past year battling breast cancer. I think we got it in time, but the chemo was a bummer.

      BTW, check your breasts! I gave a talk a few months ago at Kiwanas. Later a woman told me she had heard my presentation and checked herself. Sure enough, she had a cancerous lump. Had a lumpectomy and is sooo grateful she found it in time.... because I had motivated her to check.

      Well, I only listed "a few minutes" because I live at 7,000 feet above sea level. Water boils at a lower temp up here. At a lower altitude, it boils at a much higher temp.

      The best I can tell you is to watch your pot and set a timer if you like. Keep checking every few minutes until you see the cabbage go limp.

      Wow! 200 cabbages! Fantastic opportunity. Have you had a chance to look over the recipe for backpacker's cole slaw? It's fantastic. That's usually what I take when we have a church supper, everyone loves it. And it's soooo easy!

      Good luck with those cabbages.

  4. Hello and thank you for providing such useful information.
    I'm wondering if it is possible to fill the wet cabbage leaves with dehydrated meat, veggies and dry seasonings and then roll into shape and then place all of the above in the dehydrator. Would the filling rehydrate properly? Any info would be greatly appreciated.