Phone

Foods

Kohlrabi
Why Eat It
Varieties
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation


Why Eat It

Kohlrabi is a crispy, sweet tasting, delicate flavored member of the Brassica family of vegetables. Often referred to as "cabbage turnip," kohlrabi is a cruciferous vegetable and contains important phytochemicals such as indoles, sulforaphane and isothiocynates as well as vitamin C. Indoles are believed to be potentially significant anti-cancer compounds and are found in other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. These plant compounds are not destroyed in cooking, and the bioactivity of indoles may actually be increased by cooking. A favorite of Asians, Eastern Europeans and Germans, kohlrabi is also a good source of potassium. Kohlrabi gets its name from the German word for "kohl" which means cabbage and "rabi" for turnip, hence the reason why it is sometimes called "cabbage turnip."

The kohlrabi is a globe-shaped swollen stem (not a root) from which spring large leaves. The bulbs are either green or purple. The kohlrabi has delicious leaves that are tender and excellent in salads or stir-fried. The whole peeled kohlrabi can be added to braised dishes and stews. The bulb-like stem is similar to a turnip in flavor and is naturally sweet and can be eaten raw or steamed or shredded into soups and salads. The flesh of the bulb is juicy and crisp with a beguiling sweetness similar to that of an apple, with a hint of piquancy associated with radishes and baby turnips. The origin of this tasty, crisp vegetable is currently unknown, however, plant historians estimate that it goes back to at least to the Roman Empire. Kohlrabi is a versatile, nutritious staple food throughout Asia and Eastern Europe, and it is finally becoming more known and enjoyed in the U.S.

Varieties

There are green and purple varieties of kohlrabi. Purple kohlrabi tends to have slightly spicier flavor.

Availability

Available year-round, with peak season in June and July.

Shopping

Generally, if shopping for kohlrabi in a supermarket, you should choose small or medium sized kohlrabi (less than 3" in diameter) without bruises, soft spots, cracks or signs of yellowing on the leaf tips. The larger size bulbs tend to be tough. However, if you are growing your own or have access to a farmers' market, don't shy away from the larger kohlrabis. There are several new varieties out there that remain incredibly sweet and tender, although they may be quite large. For all kohlrabi, regardless of size, make sure the bulb is firm and the leaves are not wilted.

Storage

Store in the refrigerator with the leaf stems removed for up to three weeks.

Preparation

Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or steamed, braised, sauteed or stir-fried.

Raw: Cut peeled kohlrabi into julienne strips and toss with a light vinaigrette dressing. chill and serve. Or shred and toss along with carrots for a different take on cole slaw. Add a grated crisp apple if you like.

Steamed: Steam slices, wedges, or julienned strips of kohlrabi until crisp tender. Toss with an herbed vinaigrette or yogurt dressing.

Braised: Braise wedges of kohlrabi in a seasoned broth alone or with other vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, leeks, onions, and tomatoes. Add wedges of kohlrabi to soups and stews as you would add potatoes.

Sauteed or Stir-Fried: Thin slices, wedges, julieene strips or cubes of kohlrabi can be sauteed or stir-fried by themselves or along with other vegetables. Cook in a little hot oil or broth along with some garlic until crisp-tender.


Date Published: 04/20/2005
Previous  |  Next
> Printer-friendly Version Return to Top