Crisp cabbage makes for a tasty slaw, but not if it's got an added crunch due to dirt from the garden. The outer leaves of a cabbage generally keep the compact inner leaves clean, so washing is relatively easy. Do wait to wash the vegetable until just before you plan to use it or you'll encourage quick deterioration of this otherwise long-lasting vegetable.
Inspecting the Cabbage
Choose a cabbage that has a compact head and feels heavy. Avoid any with black spots or soft sections. If the outer leaves look a bit wilted, that's OK, because you'll discard them anyway. If you discover evidence of worms once you get the cabbage home, which may happen if you've harvest the cabbage from your garden or gotten it fresh from a farmers market, soak the entire head in salted water or water with several tablespoons of vinegar added for about 15 minutes.
Removing the Outer Leaves
Remove the outer one or two layers of leaves of the cabbage by peeling them back and snapping them off at the core. Toss any that are wilted or discolored. Reserve any that look crisp and fresh to wash.
Rinse the leaves under running tap water. Rub them gently with your fingers to remove surface dirt. You don't need to use any special cleaner, even one made for fruits and vegetables. Dry thoroughly by patting with paper towels or using a salad spinner.
Chopping for Slaw
Cut the head into quarters, remove the core and slice for the slaw by stacking the rinsed leaves, rolling them into a tight tube and making closely spaced cuts with a kitchen knife. Toss the shredded cabbage with other vegetables, such as shredded carrots and bell pepper, and mix in a dressing of choice.