Here’s all you need to know about the shelf life and spoilage of cabbage. Learn how long cabbage lasts and how to tell if it’s spoiled.
Say there’s a cabbage head in your fridge for a week or so now. And you’re thinking: how long does cabbage last?
Or perhaps yours is looking kind of iffy, and you want to make sure if it’s still okay to use it. How to tell if cabbage is bad?
If so, this article is for you. Read on.
Everything below applies to “regular” cabbage types, including green, red (or purple), white, and savoy cabbage (the one with curly leaves and a more tender texture). I note important differences between the types when needed.
How Long Does Cabbage Last?
|Cabbage, whole||3- 4 days||2 weeks|
|Cabbage, cut or shredded||3 – 5 days|
|Cabbage, cooked||4 days|
Red, green, and white cabbage last about two weeks in the fridge, while savoy cabbage keeps for only about four days. If you place your cabbage in a cold and humid place, you might get a couple more days of good quality.
Technically speaking, cabbage can last up to 5 months, but that requires keeping it in a freezing place (32°F or 0°C) that’s also super humid (95% relative humidity). For that, you’d probably need a root cellar.
(If you happen to have one, that’s a great place to store your cabbage!)
The good news is there are well-known ways of preserving cabbage. You can use that cabbage and make sauerkraut or kimchi. Both can last months in the fridge.
Cut or Shredded Cabbage
Use cut, shredded, or grated cabbage within 3 to 5 days of cutting it, and store it sealed tight in a plastic container or zip-top bag in the fridge.
Also, keep an eye on how much water the cabbage releases, and consider wiping it using paper towels or a kitchen towel if there are more than a few tiny drops. The presence of water might make the cabbage grow mold and go bad prematurely.
Use cooked cabbage within four days of cooking. Once it cools to about room temperature, transfer the leftovers to an airtight container (or leave them in a lidded pot), and place them in the fridge.
To keep things extra safe, make sure you don’t let it sit at room temperature for more than two hours after cooking. That’s the 2-hour rule you might have heard about in action.
(The same four days is how long coleslaw lasts.)
With that in mind, let’s cover the spoilage signs.
How to Tell if Cabbage Is Bad?
Discard cabbage if:
- It smells off. If your cabbage gives off a “funny” aroma, it’s no good.
- The whole head is soft, and the stem end wet. Softness indicates water loss, and if yours is at a point where the whole thing is soft or seems squishy, it’s done for. A few outside leaves that aren’t super crisp are okay – you can toss them and use the rest. The same applies to a halved or quartered cabbage, of course.
- There are lots of darkened, discolored leaves. A few coarse outer leaves are okay, and you toss them the same way you do with the outer layers of an onion. But if the leaves are brown or darkened, and there are a couple of layers of those leaves, it’s best to toss the green veggie.
- It’s moldy. Mold is what you’ll likely find in cooked cabbage stored for more than a few days or in shredded cabbage that has released a bunch of water in the container. But if a whole head is bruised or stored for too long, it might grow mold too. If only a tiny bit is affected, it’s probably okay to cut it out and use the rest; otherwise, toss the whole thing. And if you find mold in shredded cabbage, discard the container no matter what.
- It sits in storage for too long. If your cooked cabbage sits in the fridge for more than four days or your cut or shredded cabbage for more than six days, it’s time for it to go.
As always, if there’s anything else that doesn’t seem quite right, trust your gut and toss the cabbage.
One more thing worth knowing is that cut cabbage will begin to turn grayish on the cut edge after a few days in storage. You can cut off the discolored part if it’s only the surface affected and the rest underneath is fine.
But if the whole thing has started to turn grey or black, it’s no good.
Next, let’s talk about storage.
Does Cabbage Need to Be Refrigerated?
You can store cabbage at room temperature, but it’ll retain quality for only 3 to 4 days before it starts to soften, and its quality starts to decline rapidly. Refrigeration is a much better choice that will allow you to store the cabbage for about 2 weeks.
The ideal conditions to store cabbage are:
- temperature around 32°F (or 0°C)
- humidity of 95% (or even 98 – 100%, depending on whom you ask)
And as I already mentioned, you’d probably need a root cellar to achieve those. The second best option is the fridge.
Now, let’s talk about how to go about refrigerating cabbage.
How to Store Cabbage
The refrigerator tends to dry out foods, so if your cabbage is unwrapped, it’s best to place it in the veggie drawer, where it’s usually much more humid than elsewhere.
On the other hand, if your cabbage is wrapped or you place it in a resealable bag, choosing a fridge shelf and placing it in the back would be the optimal choice. That’s where the temperature is usually the lowest, while the bag keeps the humidity high.
If that’s your setup, leave that bag half-open or use a perforated one so that the cabbage can release excess moisture. Having lots of water drops everywhere isn’t what you want, as that will speed up deterioration.
Both storage options (bags or no bag) work okay, and the difference between storage times is negligible.
Now, if you were thinking about washing the cabbage before storage, forget about it. Instead, wash it before using or cooking, so it doesn’t go bad prematurely.
Finally, keep in mind that cabbage is sensitive to ethylene. That means storing it near any ethylene-producing fruits or veggies will significantly speed up its deterioration.
That means you shouldn’t store it near ripening apples, bananas, pears, and others.
Cabbage Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary
Thank you for reading this short guide on cabbage. Let’s briefly recap what we’ve covered above:
- How long does cabbage last? Red, green, and white cabbage last about 2 weeks in the fridge, while savoy cabbage lasts only 4 to 5 days. Cut or shredded cabbage keeps for 3 to 5 days, while cooked cabbage should be used within 4 days of preparation.
- How to tell if cabbage is bad? Toss cabbage if it smells off or funny, is soft, has a few outer layers that are darkening or black, or is moldy. Also, toss cut cabbage after about six days in storage and cooked cabbage if it sits in the fridge for more than four days.
- Do you have to refrigerate cabbage? Cabbage can last a couple of days at room temperature, while it keeps for about two weeks in the fridge. So unless you’re planning to eat or use it really soon, the refrigerator is far better than leaving it on the counter.