Kohlrabi, also referred to as the German turnip, is a biennial vegetable with a low, stout cultivar of wild cabbage. Therefore, a cultivar belongs to the same species as broccoli, cabbage, kale, Savoy cabbage, collard greens, gai lan, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. The advantage of kohlrabi is that you can also eat it raw without having to cook. The edible preparations of kohlrabi are made with both the leaves and stem. However, it’s also important to note that it’s the same as turnip, although they have a common name.
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The name “kohl” comes from Germany, which means cabbage, and “Rube – Rabi” comes from the Swiss-German variant “turnip,” since the swollen stems resemble the latter. The group name of kohlrabi, Gongylodes, means “roundish” in Greek. In the northern regions of Vietnam, kohlrabi is known as “su hao,” which is also from French “chou-rave.” In eastern India and Bangladesh, kohlrabi is called “ol kopi.” You can also find kohlrabi in the Kashmir Valley in northern India, called “monj-hakh.” The round part is called “monj,” while the leafy part is called “hakh.”
Kohlrabi pronounce in English is “kowl-raa-bee.” In northern India, kohlrabi is called “nol khol,” and in Sri Lanka, it’s called “knoll khol.” Kohlrabi is also native in Cyprus, and it’s called “kouloumpra.” In the Czech Republic, it’s called “kedlubna,” and in Slovakia, it’s called “kalerab.” Therefore, as you can see, kohlrabi has many different names worldwide, which makes it unique. According to European records written by the botanist Mattioli, kohlrabi was discovered in 1554 in Italy. By the late 16th century, the vegetable was grown in Germany, Tripoli, Austria, Spain, England, Italy, and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean.
Kohlrabi was made from artificial selection for lateral meristem growth. As mentioned earlier, the origin of this vegetable is similar to that of cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. These are the same species as the wild cabbage. Kohlrabi has the same taste and texture as a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, although it’s milder and a bit sweet, with a high ratio of flesh to the skin. You can prepare kohlrabi in many ways, which we’ll get to talk about later in the recipes section.
Kohlrabi is also rich in plenty of vitamins, protein, fat, and minerals. Therefore, it has a lot of benefits that we’ll talk about later on in this post. When it comes to preparation and use, kohlrabi doesn’t disappoint. This vegetable has a lot to offer users since you can opt to eat it raw, cook it plainly, or incorporate it into other dishes. For instance, in Cyprus, kohlrabi is usually sprinkled with salt and lemon and then served as an appetizer. Therefore, they tend to prepare it fast, and it tastes pretty good.
How to Eat Kohlrabi – Can You Eat Kohlrabi Raw?
As mentioned earlier, you can eat kohlrabi raw. Raw kohlrabi is healthy as it is high in fiber and provides 5 grams in each cup (135 grams). Raw kohlrabi is also full of vitamin C and provides 140 percent of the daily value per cup. Research also shows that kohlrabi contains antioxidant content that makes it a powerful tool for fighting diabetes and inflammation. However, when serving raw kohlrabi, it’s essential to gauge the thickness of its skin. If you feel that the skin is thick and rubbery, remove it with a vegetable peeler. Although the skin is edible, and some people even eat kohlrabi straight out of the garden like an apple, it’s important to check the skin carefully.
Can You Eat Kohlrabi Leaves?
Most people wonder whether it’s safe or healthy to eat kohlrabi leaves. The answer to whether you should eat the leaves of this vegetable is yes. The leaves of kohlrabi are edible, and you can eat them. However, the most frequently prepared and eaten portion of the plant is the bulb, so some people aren’t aware that you can also eat the leaves.
To eat the kohlrabi leaves, you must first chiffonade them finely and toss them inside vinaigrette. You can also chop and steam or sauté them as you would do to kale or collard greens.
How to Use Kohlrabi
There are many ways to use kohlrabi, with the most common being that you can eat the plant either raw or cooked. Kohlrabi is a delicious plant that you can steam, sauté, stuff, roast, or cream. You can also use kohlrabi in soup or stew. Some people even eat kohlrabi straight out of the garden like a ripe apple. Smaller kohlrabi has a sweeter taste, but the vegetable tends to develop a sharp and more radish-like flavor as it continues to mature. The best way to use kohlrabi is by eating its stem and leaves. These offer you the option of eating them raw or cooking them.
How to Peel Kohlrabi
Do you peel kohlrabi? Yes, you can peel the vegetable. Below are some of the simple steps you need to take:
- Wash your hands and ensure they are adequately clean since they can spread bacteria to the foods that you touch.
- Once you’ve washed your hands, go ahead and clean the kohlrabi thoroughly. When the kohlrabi is well cleaned, you can dry your hands and start peeling them.
- Cut off the leafy stems if the leaves are still attached to the kohlrabi. Cut off the stems. Since the leaves are edible, you can put them aside after you’ve cut them.
- Slice the kohlrabi in half with a sharp knife. You can do that by cutting down the center before peeling it. Remember, the outside part is very tough, so you must firmly hold the kohlrabi to avoid slipping when cutting.
- If the kohlrabi is large, you can divide it into quarters, but you can cut it into two if it’s small.
- You can peel it properly and slice it into different before deciding whether to eat it raw or cook it.
The above steps are the best ways on how to cut kohlrabi. Anytime you want to cut or peel the plant, make sure you follow the proper steps to avoid messing the entire plant.
What Does Kohlrabi Taste Like?
Although kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family, they don’t have a similar taste. Instead, the kohlrabi taste carries a signature sweet-but-peppery flavor profile, with a texture and taste similar to that broccoli stems. When buying kohlrabi, make sure you select solid and firm kohlrabi and avoid the squishy ones.
You can prepare kohlrabi in various ways, which we’ll outline in this section. There are plenty of kohlrabi recipes, but we’re only going to share a few recipes to prepare this unique vegetable whenever you want.
1. Roasted Kohlrabi Recipe
This is a common way of how to prepare kohlrabi. Raw or cooked kohlrabi can be added to a slaw, slice, or added to a tossed salad.
- Thoroughly wash the kohlrabi and pat dry. Cut off the top and stem of the kohlrabi and put them aside for another recipe.
- Cut the bulbs into halves or even quarters to make them easy to handle.
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel the kohlrabi and then slice them in the same size to roast them evenly. Peeling the whole kohlrabi is complicated than peeling the ones you’ve cut into halves or quarters.
Roasting the kohlrabi is easy, even if it’s your first time doing it. Here’s how to do it.
- Properly peel the kohlrabi.
- Add olive oil and then season it.
- Roast the kohlrabi in an oven and ensure it is tender-crisp to perfection.
- Ensure you cut the kohlrabi thicker for firmer pieces.
- Once you ensure that the kohlrabi is cool, you can store them in your refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- It’s important to note that oven-roasted kohlrabi doesn’t freeze well and may become too soft when thawed. Therefore, it’s recommended to make a fresh batch.
2. Crispy Apple and Kohlrabi Salad
This is another super recipe on how to make kohlrabi salad with Honeycrisp apple, olive oil, lemon, and tarragon.
- Two small kohlrabies. They should be about 1 pound each. You can also use either the green or purple variety. Cut them into matchsticks about ¼ inches wide.
- A large Honeycrisp apple about ½ pound: ensure it is cored and cut into matchsticks about ¼ inches wide.
- 1/3 grated gouda cheese. However, this is optional.
- ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves.
- Three tablespoons of toasted sunflower seeds.
- One or two tablespoons of olive oil.
- Lemon zest.
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- One or two tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Using a large serving bowl, mix the kohlrabies and apple matchsticks. Add the cheese, tarragon leaves, and sunflower seeds. Shave the lemon zest over the bowl. You can use half of the lemon zest.
- Sprinkle in one tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and lightly sprinkle salt and black pepper.
- Mix the salad gently with your hands and add another drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice if the salad is a bit dry.
- Finish with another sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately.
3. Kohlrabi Curry Recipe
Kohlrabi curry is a delicious vegan and gluten-free curry made with a tomato-based sauce, which makes it an ideal accompaniment with paratha, roti, or you can even have it as a side dish with rice. The spices and seasoning offer it a significant boost, while the peanuts, coconut, and lime juice help enhance flavor and taste.
- Whole spices – You can use the regular spices used to make tadka, including cumin, mustard, and red chilies.
- Liquids – Similar to all other Indian curries, this recipe also requires water and oil.
- Dry spices include turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, asafetida, and chili powder.
- Vegetables – Kohlrabi, coriander, half lime, pureed tomato, and curry leaves.
- Extra ingredients – Crushed peanuts and coconut to add a bit of crunch and flavor to your curry.
- Fry the mustard, red chilies, cumin, asafetida, and curry leaves.
- Cook the tomato puree with dry spices and salt.
- Add the kohlrabi and water, and then cook under low heat till soft and crunchy.
- Add the crushed peanuts, coconut, lime juice, coriander, and then mix it properly until they are well combined.
- Enjoy the delicious kohlrabi curry with rotis or steamed rice.
- Peel off the outer layer of kohlrabi, cut it into half, and chop it into small cubes. The thinner you cut the kohlrabi, the faster they will cook.
- Roast the peanuts first before you crush them to give them a pleasing aroma and nutty taste.
- Check the taste of the tomatoes first to decide whether you need lime juice. You can use mild tomatoes with lime juice to balance the spicy and sweet flavor of the curry.
4. Roasted Kohlrabi with Savory Garlic Sauce
This is a unique and delicious treat from kohlrabi. So, how do you cook kohlrabi with savory garlic sauce? Check out the recipe below.
- Four kohlrabies
- One teaspoon olive oil
- Three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- One tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- One tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- Five anchovy fillets well-drained and patted dry
- Two tablespoons of water
- One tablespoon of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 4000F. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Remove the kohlrabi leaves from the bulb, slice them thinly to equal one packed cup, and set them aside. Peel the kohlrabies and cut them into small wedges. Toss together the wedges and one teaspoon of olive oil in a large bowl. Place the wedges in a hot skillet and cook them until brown around the edges for approximately 6 minutes.
- Put the skillet inside the preheated oven and roast the wedges. Stir occasionally until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife for about 12 to 15 minutes. Put the kohlrabi wedges in a large bowl.
- As the kohlrabi cooks heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and anchovies, crush the red pepper and cook for about 5 minutes while occasionally stirring until the anchovies are sizzling and the garlic is tender. Transfer the anchovy mixture to a small food processor and add lemon juice and white wine vinegar to the anchovy mixture. Process until blended for about 10 seconds. Transfer to a smaller bowl and stir in the parsley.
- Add the sliced kohlrabi greens and water to the skillet over medium. Cook and constantly stir for one minute until the greens are wilted. Transfer the greens to the bowl with the wedges and toss with bagna cauda sauce.
- Once you’re done, serve immediately.
The roasted kohlrabi with savory garlic sauce helps to upgrade your steak dinner by adding flavor. You shouldn’t be afraid of the anchovy fillets because they help add a unique flavor to the kohlrabi wedges.
What are the benefits of eating kohlrabi? Kohlrabi offers plenty of benefits when eaten either raw or cooked. This vegetable is primarily consumed in European countries but has now spread to India and became a staple food in the country.
The kohlrabi health benefits include improving digestive processes, helping in weight loss, increasing circulation, boosting the immune system, protecting the nerve and muscle function, improving ocular health, and strengthening bones.
Below we discuss in-depth the benefits that kohlrabi has to offer.
- Assists in weight loss – A report published by the Journal of Integrative Medicine showed that kohlrabi is the perfect vegetable for a weight loss diet. This is because it’s low in calories, packed with plenty of minerals, and rich in fiber.
- Kohlrabi regulates blood pressure – Studies also show that aside from kohlrabi impacting energy levels in our body, it contains potassium that functions as a vasodilator, which helps to reduce strain on the cardiovascular system eases the tension of arteries and blood vessels.
- Improves bone strength – As humans age, our bones tend to weaken automatically. However, eating mineral-rich foods is one way of avoiding this issue. Some of these mineral-rich foods are vegetables like kohlrabi since it contains iron, calcium content, and manganese.
- It boosts energy levels – Kohlrabi contains potassium, one of the major players in nerve and muscle behavior in the body. That’s because it allows us to breathe, move, react, and function every day. Therefore, the adequate amounts of minerals and potassium in kohlrabi make it an ideal addition to your eat to help boost energy levels in your body.
- Kohlrabi prevents anemia – Since kohlrabi contains iron, this helps to fight anemia in the body. This is because iron increases the red blood cells in the body, which are essential for preventing anemia.
- Kohlrabi assists in eye care – Studies also show that kohlrabi is rich in carotenes, including the beta-carotene that acts as an antioxidant compound in the body, specifically the ocular area. Vitamin A also helps to prevent macular degeneration and alleviation of cataracts appearance.
- Kohlrabi improves digestion – Another kohlrabi nutrition benefit is that it can help to improve digestion in your body. Like most cruciferous vegetables, kohlrabi is also a good source of fiber that significantly helps to improve digestion. The dietary fiber assists in moving your bowels along, reduce constipation, bloating, and cramping. It also maximizes the nutrient uptake efficiency in your body.
How to Grow Kohlrabi
Here are the simple steps to take when you want to grow kohlrabi.
- Buy kohlrabi seeds from the nearby grocery store.
- If you want a spring harvest, plant the kohlrabi four weeks before the last frost.
- Space the kohlrabies 9-12 inches apart in an area that receives enough sunlight. Ensure the soil is adequately drained and has a pH of 6.5 to 6.8.
- You can improve the native soil by mixing a few inches of aged compost or any rich organic matter.
- Note that kohlrabi is a fast producer, and that means you need to keep the soil moist by giving plants 1-1.5 inches of water every week.
- You can encourage proper leafy production by regularly giving the plants water-soluble plant food.
- Ensure you block the weeds to retain soil moisture by applying a thick layer of mulch made from organic material like finely ground bark or leaves.
- Harvest the kohlrabi when you notice the leaves are between 2.5 and 4 inches wide.
When to Harvest Kohlrabi
The best time to harvest kohlrabi stems is when they are still tender and young. This is usually when they are 2.5 to 4 inches wider. Harvesting kohlrabi is done by cutting them from the plant’s base. You can also trim the kohlrabi leaves from the stem and set them aside to cook separately later on. Kohlrabi can stay fresh in the fridge for about 2 to 3 weeks.
The common mistake that most farmers make is allowing kohlrabies to grow too large before they harvest them. However, large and older kohlrabies are tough and woody and tend to have a bad flavor. Therefore, you should begin harvesting as early as possible, such as when the first stems measure an inch in diameter. From there, you can continue with the harvest until the stems are about two or 3 inches wide. That is what is considered an excellent time to harvest kohlrabies.
Kohlrabi – Where to Buy
You can buy kohlrabi anywhere, such as the local grocery store or even online. When purchasing this unique vegetable, select the ones that are three inches in diameter.
How to Store Kohlrabi
You can store kohlrabi in the refrigerator for a maximum of three weeks. However, there is a way to extend kohlrabi’s storage life by placing it in a sealed perforated plastic bag.
Can You Freeze Kohlrabi?
Yes, you can freeze kohlrabi by cutting off the top and root, wash well, and then store in a refrigerator.
How to Tell If Kohlrabi Is Bad
The best ways to know if kohlrabi is bad is if you notice the leaves are brown or torn up, the kohlrabi is squishy, and if it looks moldy. Those are signs that the kohlrabi is not good.
Can Dogs Eat Kohlrabi?
Yes, dogs are allowed to eat kohlrabi since it provides plenty of vitamins and minerals beneficial for the dog. Additionally, kohlrabi is easy to digest when well cooked; it’s high in fiber and low in calories.