We recently brought in a case of locally & organically grown Kohlrabi into the produce department of the food Co-op I work at. I’ve gotten many a few questions of “Kohl-whati? Kohl-whatchamacallit?” Which lead me to the realization that I didn’t know much on this wonderful vegetable myself.. Thus my inspiration to learn more about this vegetable & to share with you what I learned!
-It’s a member of the Brassica family; kale, cabbage, broccoli & radish are some other members of this family. Brassica family crops are know for their antioxidant properties & are generally considered to be cancer inhibitors!
-It’s very popular in German speaking countries, and this is where we get the name “Kohlrabi” from, Kohl meaning “cabbage” & Rube or Rabi meaning “turnip” in German.
-There are two types of Kohlrabi: purple & light green/white Kohlrabi.
-Kohlrabi’s flavor is reminiscent of broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder & sweeter. It has the texture of radish with the sweetness of jicama.
-Kohlrabi is a nutritious plant high in Vitamin C, potassium, B6, and various minerals.
-Kohlrabi is commonly mistaken for a root vegetable, but it isn’t. It’s actually and enlarged stem that grows just above the soil line.
-Kohlrabi was first grown in Europe in 1500 and imported to America 300 years later.
What to look for when buying Kohlrabi at the store:
-A bulb that is 2-3″ in diameter will have the best flavor & texture. When bulbs get large they become tough & woody.
-Bulbs should be firm & not spongy with no visible brown spots.
-Bulbs that are spherical are ideal, tapered bulbs tend to be woodier.
How to prepare/eat:
-Both the bulb & leaves are edible raw or cooked.
-The leaves can be used like collards or kale.
-In order to use the bulb you must first peel off the tough outermost layer with a vegetable peeler. Inside is a crisp, juicy vegetable!
-Once the bulb is peeled, you can grate it & use it raw in salads, slows, or spring rolls. There are many ways to cook it: you can add it to a chunky vegetable soup, puréed in a soup (esp. tasty with celery root or potatoes!), cook as fritters, roasted with other hearty veggies, or steamed (then can be used in other recipes like frittatas, stir-fries or pasta dishes).
-Kohlrabi bulbs are also tasty when fermented or pickled!
-Kohlrabi freezes well: peel & slice it, blanch it for 2-3 minutes, drop into an ice bath, pat dry, then freeze.
How to grow it yourself:
-Kohlrabi is a biennial.
-Sowed to maturity takes 55-60 for most varieties.
-It’s subject to the same pests & disease as other brassica crops – cabbage worms are the biggest problem.
-Sow seeds 1/4-1/2 inch deep, thin to 2-5″ spacing. Maintain adequate soil moisture.
-Seeds can be started indoors & transplanted outside when ground becomes workable. Sow outside in early spring, make small plantings every 2-3 weeks for a continuous spring & summer harvest.
-Kohlrabi can withstand some frost. Plant like you would late cabbage in mid-summer for a fall crop.
-If growing during hot weather, seedlings will appreciate shade.
-When to harvest: bulbs will have best flavor when picked small, ideal size is 2-3″ in diameter. Once they get large they will become tough & woody.