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Kohlrabi is a plant related to cabbage, kale, and broccoli. It is a cold-hardy, fast growing plant. The plant’s greens grow directly from the bulbous stem, making it look somewhat ‘alien-like’ to those unfamiliar with the vegetable. Kohlrabi can be sold with or without the greens still attached, though the former is more desirable. The flesh is white, regardless of the color of its outer layer and leaf ribs. Bulbs are generally harvested at two to three inches in diameter. Smaller bulbs are tender and have a milder, sweeter taste, while the larger bulbs can become more fibrous and woody. Larger Kohlrabi is often stuffed like squash. Kohlrabi’s flavor is likened to broccoli stems, sweet and mild with a hint of cabbage or radish. The texture is firm and crisp and the flesh is juicy. Kohlrabi can be eaten both raw and cooked.
Kohlrabi can be found year-round, with a peak season in the winter and spring months.
Kohlrabi is a member of the Brassica family, botanically classified as Brassica oleracea subspecies gongylodes. The common name, ‘Kohlrabi’ is derived from the Germanic ‘kohl’ for “cabbage” and ‘rabi’ for “turnip.” It was named for its edible enlarged stem that grows above ground like other members of the cruciferous family. Kohlrabi is technically a stem, not a root.
Kohlrabi is high in vitamin C and a good source of both fiber and potassium. This nutrient-dense bulb also contains high amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and iron.
Kohlrabi can be prepared using nearly every cooking method. Peel away the tough outer-layer of skin on the Kohlrabi bulb, removing any fibrous parts of the skin as well. Raw Kohlrabi can be shredded for slaws, salads or for fritters. Cut Kohlrabi into chunks to add to soups or vegetable stir-fries. Steamed Kohlrabi can be used in any number of dishes, like omelets, pasta dishes or risotto. Kohlrabi can be baked, like home fries, or braised and roasted. Make a Kohlrabi gratin with a mild cheese sauce or pair with creamy applications, like soups and dips. Enjoy it raw, cut into matchsticks on a salad or for crudite. Both the bulb and the greens are widely used in Indian cuisines for curries and other vegetable dishes. The greens can be prepared like kale or collard greens, steamed or sautéed. Kohlrabi can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks when kept in perforated plastic. Some recommend removing the greens from the bulb prior to storing. Kohlrabi can be preserved by blanching and freezing.
The “cabbage turnip” is popular in Hungary, Germany, northern France, Italy, Russia and Asia. Immigrants from these countries brought with them their love of Kohlrabi, exposing American communities to the vegetable beginning around the turn of the 19th century. Kohlrabi is commonly used in Indian cooking; it pairs well with traditional Indian spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and garam masala. Many traditional Hungarian and German dishes also include Kohlrabi.
The biennial Kohlrabi are cold-weather plants, thriving in northern regions of Europe and North America. Kohlrabi is native to northern Europe and is believed to be the only common vegetable native to the area. Some consider Kohlrabi to be a “new” vegetable, having been discovered just before the beginning of the 16th century. A European botanist first wrote about Kohlrabi in 1554, and by the end of the 16th century the vegetable had become popular across Europe, south into the Mediterranean region and east to Russia and Asia. Kohlrabi is said to have first been cultivated on a wide-scale in mid-1700s Ireland and then later in England. Records of the root’s use in the United States dates back to 1806. Kohlrabi is very easy to grow and is very popular among home gardeners. Kohlrabi is most often found in farmer’s markets in North America, particularly in cooler climates, and in restaurants and markets in Europe and Asia.
Restaurants currently purchasing this product as an ingredient for their menu.
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Recipes that include Green Kohlrabi. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Food 52||Kohlrabi-Bacon Pie|
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