Pink Cabbage

Method for the production of pink colored cabbage


This invention relates to pink Brassica oleracea capitata (cabbage) plants and a production method thereof. This invention relates furthermore to the use of pink cabbage for the production of pink pickled cabbage and pink salad.

The cabbage ( Brassica oleracea capitata ) is a leaf vegetable and the so-called 'cabbage head' is widely consumed raw, cooked, or preserved in a great variety of dishes. More than 400 Brassica oleracea capitata cultivars with different leave colors (mainly white and red) are available and widely used for food production. Cabbage plants are used for the preparation of salad and for the production of pickled cabbage (also called sour cabbage or Sauerkraut). Sauerkraut is finely sliced cabbage fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. Roughly 50% of the German annual production of white cabbage is used to produce pickled cabbage.

Red cabbage contains large amounts of so called anthocyanins, which are types of flavonoid pigments and are responsible for the coloration of red cabbage leaves. These pigments are water soluble and are dissolved in the vacuole of the plant cells. Anthocyanins have a range of biological activities that may produce health benefits.

However, besides positive effects, the presence of large amounts of anthocyanins causes problems, which makes red cabbage difficult to handle. The anthocyanins stain skin, clothes, paper, textiles and stoneware, which makes it difficult to handle for the producer and the consumer. The water soluble red pigment leaking out of fresh cut leaves leads to a discoloration of the plant material.

To avoid leakage, the red cabbage leaves are slightly dried out, which gives a poorer, less fresh appearance as, for example, white cabbage. Furthermore, the color of the anthocyanins can turn dark-blue or dark-purple during the production of pickled cabbage resulting in an unappetizing appearance. Consequently, pickled cabbage is nearly exclusively produced from white cabbage. However, the absence of nameable amounts of anthocyanins in white or savoy cabbage has the disadvantage that said vegetables have a reduced health benefit and a less attractive appearance for the consumer. Furthermore, due to the absence of any color, enzymatic browning, occurring at the edges of cut leaves, is highly visible leading to a less fresh appearance and, therefore, to economic losses.

Surprisingly, it has been found that the anthocyanin content of plants produced by pollinating a red-cabbage with a white- or savoy-cabbage - or vice versa - does not correspond to an intermediate phenotype, although the leaf color of said plants is pink.

The skilled person would have expected an intermediate inheritance pattern and that the anthocyanins present in the leaves of the F1 plants would account for half the amount of anthocyanins present in red cabbage. This assumption is furthermore supported by the pink color of the leaves of said hybrid plants. However, it has been found that the amount of anthocyanins present in the leaves of the F1 plants only constitute around one fourth of the anthocyanins present in red cabbage leaves.

This unexpected inheritance pattern has led to the provision of hybrid pants combining the advantages of their parent plants without showing their disadvantages. Said plants are suited for Sauerkraut production and producing health beneficial anthocyanins, without having the unwanted staining properties of red cabbage or the susceptibility of enzymatic browning of white cabbage.


Commercial varieties: Pinkstar


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