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What Is Kohlrabi?

The best places to find fresh kohlrabi are farmers' markets or locally owned produce stores.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 July 2014
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When is a root vegetable not a root vegetable? When it's a small bulbous member of the cabbage family called kohlrabi, that's when. For all intents and purposes, kohlrabi appears to be a root vegetable in the same company as turnips, radishes and rutabagas. However, the bulbous shape is caused by a swelling of the plant's stem near the ground. In that sense, it is more of a tightly packed version of its cousin, cabbage. In fact, the name is derived from two German words: kohl meaning cabbage and rabi meaning turnip. It is not unusual to hear the term "turnip cabbage" to describe this vegetable.

Despite its connections to cabbage and turnips, steamed or boiled kohlrabi is said to taste more like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Indeed, it is in the same general category, the Brassica oleracea Gongylodes group, as the broccoli it resembles in flavor. It can also be used in lieu of cabbage in many of the sausage and cabbage dishes favored in German cooking.

A raw kohlrabi can also be eaten like an apple, although it contains far less sugar. Some people find the taste to be an acquired one, but many people who were raised in largely German communities in the Midwest grew up eating kohlrabi whenever it was in season. One town in Illinois even held annual festivals in honor of the vegetable, but such enthusiasm has waned somewhat in recent years.

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There are certain things to consider when shopping for kohlrabi. It is not always available in the produce section of many grocery stores. The vegetable is very seasonal, and low consumer demand often keeps it off the truck for long-distance deliveries. The best kohlrabi is usually found in farmers' markets or locally owned produce stores.

Ideally, a kohlrabi bulb should be about the size of an apple or smaller, approximate 3 inches (7.62 cm) in diameter. Anything larger could have noticeably less flavor or woody sections. Kohlrabi may look like a root vegetable, but it should be displayed separately from true root vegetables such as turnips or rutabagas. The plants have a distinctive leafy stalk protruding from the top of the swollen stem. This stem is usually removed before chopping the actual bulb for steaming or boiling in salted water.

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Discuss this Article

anon257609
Post 9

Is Kohlrabi good to grow in humidity?

StarJo
Post 8

You can also cook the leaves of kohlrabi. If the leaves are green and fresh, you can trim them off and store them separately, but you will need to cook them within a couple of days.

Wash the kohlrabi leaves and get rid of the ribs. Blanch the leaves in boiling water for about three to five minutes, or until just barely wilted. Then, drain the leaves in a colander, squeezing out the excess water.

Chop them up and saute them with a touch of butter or olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on them, and if you are so inclined, add a drop or two of lemon juice.

Perdido
Post 7

@OeKc05 - I am one of those people who actually enjoy the flavor of cabbage and brussels sprouts. That’s why when I was searching for nutritious foods to improve my diet, kohlrabi’s description appealed to me.

Kohlrabi has only 19 calories per half cup of raw slices. It has a high dietary fiber content, at 2.5 grams for a half cup.

Kohlrabi also contains 245 grams of potassium in one half cup. This is great for me, because potassium helps prevent leg and foot cramps, which I often get.

Kohlrabi is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin Cm, folic acid, and calcium. It’s a wonder-vegetable!

OeKc05
Post 6

Wow, a vegetable that tastes like three things I detest, brussels sprouts, turnips, and cabbage! Why would anyone want to eat this thing? It must have some serious nutritional value. Does anyone know what nutrients this thing possesses?

rebelgurl28
Post 5

Kohlrabi isn’t as easy to find where I live now. I used to buy it at a local farmer’s market in California.

I try to use kohlrabi whenever I can find it because of the valuable kohlrabi nutrition. As a member of the cabbage family it contains some of the same nutrients that appear to protect us against colon cancer and prostate cancer.

I have found plenty of recipes on the Internet for kohlrabi. Some of our favorites were carrot and kohlrabi slaw, scalloped kohlrabi, and roasted kohlrabi with garlic and Parmesan cheese.

ceilingcat
Post 4

@Monika - I am fairly certain my local farmers market has kohlrabi. I was considering buying some but I wanted to do a little research first. Now that I've read this article I think I'm going to skip it because I absolutely hate broccoli!

Monika
Post 3

I don't think I've ever seen or heard of this vegetable but I'm going to keep an eye out for it. I eat a lot of vegetables and I'm always looking for new ones to add to my diet. I also have a lot of farmers markets nearby I've been meaning to check out. The search for a new vegetable could be just thing to finally get me to go! And who knows, I may discover some other vegetables I didn't know existed.

anon93723
Post 2

Delicious when eaten raw with salt!

overreactor
Post 1

Kohlrabi is an easy vegetable to cultivate. It is fast growing, and does well in dry and hot weather.

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