Cabbage leaves often have a waxy bloom. Combined with the densely overlapping leaves, this protects them from moisture loss.

The outer leaves of cabbages are usually trimmed before storage so that they do not interfere with air circulation, but continue to protect against physical damage and water loss.

Cabbages can remain acceptable for up to 4 months if held close to 0°C with >95% RH, although this varies with cultivar. Storage life is 3 to 6 weeks at 2−4°C, which is usually enough for normal transport and retail.

The dense structure of cabbages makes them relatively difficult to cool. This means that hydro-vacuum cooling is less efficient for cabbage than other leafy vegetables. Forced air cooling can be effective. Cabbages stored for extended periods lose their sweetness and may develop bitter flavours. They are also sensitive to ethylene, which increases leaf yellowing.