Green leafy vegetables -Cabbage, collards and other greens

Use in medieval times

Green leafy vegetables have changed since medieval times, as have the words used to describe them. Medieval wortys and caules (as referred to in recipes of the time) are open-leaved greens of the cabbage family such as chard, turnip greens, kale and spinach. These are different to the cabogys used in recipes which are the tightly-headed white or green cabbage.

All forms of cabbage and greens were a staple of medieval monastery food and featured regularly in the diet of peasants. However, cabbage is rarely mentioned in the cook books of the rich. One advantage of growing leafy greens is that you could pick the leaves as you needed them and leave the plant growing. Another was the speed at which cabbages grow and the ease of storing them which meant they became essential eating during the winter months when vegetables were scarce.

People believed that eating cabbage could make you melancholy and cause nightmares. It was, however, considered an antidote to drunkenness. Cabbage leaves were used to dress wounds and cabbage juice, mixed with honey was given to those who had lost their voice.