Swamp cabbage is an old-time Florida cracker favorite vegetable obtained from the heart of the cabbage palm (S. palmetto), which is the official state tree of Florida. The plant is known by such other names as palmetto palm, sabal palm, and swamp cabbage tree.
The cabbage palm grows wild everywhere the state in such abundance that it’s not cultivated for harvest as a vegetable. Cabbage palms grow as individual plants scattered across the horizon or thickly clustered together in hammocks. they’re greatly valued as ornamental trees both for home and industrial landscaping. Most nurseries sell them in various sizes and shapes, deliver them, and set them in situ.
Although the swamp cabbage tree grows wild, it is protected from indiscriminate cutting by its designation as Florida’s state tree. Yet, large numbers of swamp cabbage are cut and sold each year, mostly as a prelude to land-clearing operations.
- 3 slices bacon
- 2 heads freshly cut swamp cabbage (hearts of palm), chopped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions for Swamp Cabbage
Fry the bacon over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Set aside, reserving drippings. Put swamp cabbage and remaining ingredients, including fried bacon and bacon drippings, in a 6-quart pot. Fill the pot 1/2 full with water and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cabbage is tender. Adjust salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot as a side dish.
If reheating leftovers, you must bring to a full boil again.