This gorgeous late-season cabbage was developed in the Village of Aubervilliers, France, a northeast suburb of Paris.
Brassicas such as cabbage have been cultivated in Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia for thousands of years. Savoy-type cabbages such as the Aubervilliers are thought to have originated in the Netherlands and Europe in the 16th century and are named after the Savoy region in France.
Industrialization and urbanization drew rural families from all over France closer to the metropolitan center of Paris in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Many of them settled on the lush land known as the “Plain of Vertus.” With plentiful water and easy access to the city’s markets, the farmers of Aubervilliers helped feed Parisian appetites for high-quality fresh produce, including the cabbage that came to bear its name.
In the late 19th century, for example, more than three-quarters of produce at the famous, sprawling Les Halles market was grown in Aubervilliers. But as times changed, development and zoning laws largely crowded out the agricultural fields of Aubervilliers and elsewhere in the “Ile de France.” Now efforts are underway to revive Aubervilliers’ agricultural heritage.
It’s not clear when the cabbage took on the hyperlocal name of “Aubervilliers.” In The Vegetable Garden, published in 1905, French seed house Vilmorin-Andrieux called it a variety derived from the Vertus savoy, presumably named for the Plain of Vertus.
By the early 20th century, the variety was showing up in North American seed catalogs. The William Ewing Seed Company of Montreal, Quebec offered it in 1901, and the following year, the USDA included it on a list of American vegetable varieties.
Aubervilliers cabbage remains a top choice for market gardeners today! The flattened, crinkle-leafed heads grow to three pounds in just 70 days. This variety was traditionally planted in late summer for harvest in fall because it keeps so well and could be enjoyed well into the winter. The flavor is exceptional. It’s never bitter, and the leaves are excellent eaten fresh or cooked!
Savoy type cabbage such as Aubervilliers is not as popular in the U.S. as other head cabbages, but we think that needs to change. Try this mild-flavored, cold-loving cabbage in your garden!