No one asked for a product like this, but hey, now you can eat cabbage in jelly form!
Whether it’s shredded fine and mixed into okonomiyaki or stuffed into gyoza or cooked into a spooky soba, there’s a reason that cabbage has a top-three reputation in Japan. Not only is it crammed with leafy green goodness, it’s rich in antioxidants and helps with digestion. Depending on your taste buds, it’s a crunchy and delicious addition to your meal!
No one is more serious about cabbage than Mimatsu Foods, a gyoza and spring roll specialist. They’ve been working with local farmers to bring tasty delicacies to the people of the Gunma prefecture since 1970, and their passion for locally grown cabbage can’t be beaten. Sometimes this passion for their produce takes a decidedly weird turn, such as last year’s offering of “Cabbage Cider”.
▼ All the refreshing taste of cabbage in carbonated beverage form
The cabbage cabal is back at it again, and this time they’re marketing something even more bizarre: konjac jelly flavored with their homegrown cabbage extract. Konjac potato (or konnyaku, as it’s called in Japan) contains a naturally concurring gelatin, and it’s popular to use in many dishes or even to spice up drinks with a bit of added texture.
However, while it is a common staple in Japanese cuisine, konjac is usually either mixed with fruit juices, added to smoothies, or deep-fried so it can be served as oden. Eating it on its own merit is a little strange even for health nuts. Going one step flavor and making that konjac jelly cabbage flavored is something no one had ever thought to try… Until now.
▼ Mimatsu Foods’ online retailer boasts that the jelly is Gunma-exclusive and uses extract from Tsumagoi cabbages
On top of the inherent strangeness of cabbage flavored konjac, konjac itself can be dangerous to eat if your throat muscles are still developing or weakened. Young children and old people are warned not to eat much konjac, and if they do they should cut it into small pieces and chew thoroughly to avoid death by choking (just like with New Year’s mochi).
So it’s dangerous, unusual and tastes like cabbage. What’s the appeal? Well, for one thing it’s being marketed as a diet food – because konjac takes a long time to eat with all the chewing and swallowing, it stands to reason it might trick your brain into thinking you’re more satisfied and hence you eat less. The locally grown cabbage extract is presumably full of nutrition, too.
One of the nicest perks of the product is that it lets the company use up all the unused bits of the cabbage that don’t go into rolls and dumplings. The cabbage extract that goes into the konjac is extracted from cores and outer leaves left behind by the six tons of cabbage Minmatsu Foods uses every day.
▼ Just look at that exciting lime green color!
The cabbage jelly is sold in packs of six tubes for 197 yen (US$1.80), just like a Go-Gurt but with more nutrients (and a higher risk of death). You cut open a tube and slowly feed it into your mouth as you chew off the part that extrudes, taking care not to bite off too much at once. The cabbage flavor is intense but lacks sweetness, so you could theoretically mix it into a smoothie or toss it in a salad for a powerful leafy boost.
The internet’s responses to this product have been… mixed, to say the least. One comment said “Literally no one wanted this” while another said “It looks tasty! I am a caterpillar, though.” The one thing everyone seemed to agree on is that if you eat a lot of this you can expect some pretty impressive bowel movements. How healthy!
If you’re interested in sampling this chewy cabbage treat for yourself, you can buy a bulk order of cabbage jelly directly from the brand’s online shop. The gift shop Gunma Iroha in Takasaki Station also sells the jelly, which could make a great souvenir for someone next time you’re in the area. If you’re travelling through Yamanashi prefecture, maybe you could even scout out a bottle of cabbage wine to wash it down with.