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How to cook Kohlrabi

How to cook Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi should be trimmed and then peeled. It’s best eaten raw, so finely slicing on a mandolin (use the guard!) will yield the crunchiest results. Mix with shredded carrots, radishes and red cabbage for a delicious slaw.


Kohlrabi, also known as German turnip, is a member of the brassica family, which also includes kale, cauliflower and cabbage. It’s a unique-looking vegetable that’s a cross between a broccoli stalk and an apple.


Kohlrabi is in season from July to November.


Keep kohlrabi in the fridge.

What are the health benefits?

Kohlrabi is a great source of vitamin C, which is used by our bodies for lots of different functions, including helping our nervous system to function properly. Kohlrabi is also a source of folate and potassium.

Roasted Kohlrabi: German Turnips

Kohlrabi, also known as German turnip, is a vegetable from the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Edible in its entirety, it has leaves that are great in salads, soups, and stews, while the bulbs can be eaten cooked or raw. Kohlrabi has a mild taste and is a beautiful addition to your table when in season. Sweet, with a peppery hint, kohlrabi reminds one a little of the stems of other cruciferous vegetables. It's great sauteed, roasted, or thinly sliced in a slaw-style salad.

Many cooks are unfamiliar with this vegetable, but kohlrabi is becoming more easily available in supermarkets. If you have the chance to find it at your farmer's market, don't miss out. Always pick kohlrabi that still has its leaves on, and with firm bulbs. Also, go for smaller bulbs, as these tend to be sweeter. Cooking with it is easy and it makes a great side dish for any protein, such as chicken, pork, or white fish. Or make it the star of the show in vegetarian preparations like risottos, pasta dishes, or delicious grain bowls.

This flavorful vegetable will be a delightful discovery, as the tender caramelized sweetness in our preparation is simply delicious. It's beautiful on its own, but some fresh herbs or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar will bring out even more of its natural flavor. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese is also a delicious finish to this dish.

Kohlrabi can be cooked—boiled or steamed (and then also mashed), sautéed, roasted or fried, but I more often than not use it raw for its appealing mild flavor and pronounced crispness. Julienne or grate it into your salad for a great crunch and a fresh but slightly spicy flavor.

Yes, You Can Eat That: How to Cook With Kohlrabi From the Market

One of the best parts about our test kitchen manager, Brad Leone's, job is his weekly trip to the farmers' market. It's his responsibility to supply the kitchen with ripe produce, protein, and pantry staples year-round. In the summer and fall, when the farms are cranking out the good stuff, Brad is like a kid in a candy store. Every Wednesday, he hits the market with his reusable grocery bags to stock up on what's fresh and good—and do a little snacking and snapping along the way, of course. Check back here at our From the Market column to see what Brad picked up and, of course, to get some cooking inspiration of your own.

Kohlrabi has become the poster child for local, seasonally-focused means of sourcing produce. It seems near impossible to talk about the intricacies of cooking produce from a farmers' market or CSA without also tacking on some iteration of the phrase, "And kohlrabi! I mean, what's up with that?"

Kohlrabi is called out because it's easy to grow—many farmers plant it—but until recently, it hadn't infiltrated mainstream grocery store shelves. These days, it's much easier to find kohlrabi if you haven't cooked with it, chances are you've at least heard of it. Here are Brad's tips about what to look for when buying kohlrabi, as well as how to prepare it. Consider kohlrabi de-mystified, once and for all.

We don't have to tell you that we prefer kohlrabi from our friendly neighborhood farmers, do we? Says Brad, "I always recommend buying organic from a farmers' market for the freshest and most tasty specimens." Beyond that, Brad says to seek out bulbs that still have their leaves attached. "It's a good indicator that the veg is fresh, and that it was harvested recently, because the leaves wilt faster than the bulb." The bulbs themselves should be enclosed with skin that's very firm and tight. Kohlrabi is heavy, and should feel more like a baseball in your hand—less like a Nerf ball.

You've heard the phrase, "the darker the berry, the sweeter the fruit," right? Well, according to Brad: the smaller the bulb, the sweeter the kohlrabi.

As soon as you bring your kohlrabi home, separate the leaves from the bulbs. Brad keeps the both the leaves and the bulbs in the fridge the leaves go in a sealed zip-top plastic bag, the bulbs are stored loose. Use the leaves within a few days, but the unpeeled bulbs will last for weeks.

Although the bulb of the plant is the most frequently prepared and eaten portion, the leaves are also entirely edible. Chiffonade them finely and toss them in a vinaigrette, or give them a rough chop and either steam or sauté them, as you would collard greens or kale.

Kohlrabi is protected by a thick skin, which is either purple or pale green. There are no flavor variances between the colors, and the "meat" inside is all the same off-white color. Wise words from Brad: "Always peel the bulb, because the outside layer is rather fibrous and unpleasant. It won’t break down after being cooked." Use a sharp knife to remove the skin, as it's too thick for a traditional vegetable peeler.

Kohlrabi is equally tasty raw or cooked. Brad likes to thinly shave the peeled, raw bulbs into matchsticks (you can use a mandoline for help with this) and toss them into a slaw. They're also crunchy, juicy, and crisp, which makes them a great addition to salads and grain bowls—think of them as less-sweet apples in terms of texture.

Prefer to cook your kohlrabi? Keep it simple. Here's Brad's advice: "I like to sauté the greens and chopped stems with garlic and olive oil. Add a touch of crushed red pepper and you’re set." You can also treat the bulb as you would any other root vegetable—chop it and roast it until tender, or add it to soups and stews.

How to handle kohlrabi leaves? Tips for harvesting, preparing, and storage of kohlrabi leaves

Just like all greens in Brassica family, you can handle kohlrabi leaves with the same techniques used in handling kale, Brussel sprouts, and turnip greens.

Harvesting of kohlrabi leaves

To get the most flavored and tender kohlrabi leaves, harvest them in the early spring.

Cut the leaves off of the stem carefully and try to avoid pulling off the leaves as this may injure the kohlrabi stem.

Storage of kohlrabi leaves

Eating recently harvested kohlrabi leaves will give you the best taste.

However, if you are not planning to eat them right away you can store both the kohlrabi leaves and stems in the refrigerator.

If you want to store only the leaves, here’s how you do it.

  1. Cut off the leafy stalk from the bulb of kohlrabi.
  2. Wrap them with a damp paper towel then put them in a plastic bag like this one.
  3. Stored them in the refrigerator where they can stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days.

You can also store the kohlrabi leaves directly inside a sealed ziplock bag like this one. This will keep them fresh for up to a week.

Preparing and choosing kohlrabi leaves for serving

Before using the kohlrabi leaves, make sure they are washed thoroughly.

For serving raw in a salad, it is best to choose leaves that have the smallest size as they are more tender.

On the other hand, leaves that are bigger and firm (which amount to most of the kohlrabi leaves) will be tougher and thicker, you will have a hard time eating them raw.

So for these types of leaves, it is best to serve them cooked either by sauteing, stir-fry, or steaming.

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 Recipes: How To Cook The Tricky Vegetable In Your CSA (PHOTOS)

Welcome to the inaugural installment of "WTF, CSA?" Each week this CSA season, we'll help you make use of your overflowing CSA baskets. You ask, we answer. That's how this works. Or rather, you shouted, "WTF?" into your CSA box and now we're going to tell what on earth to do with all that kohlrabi.

It's easy to see how kohlrabi could throw you off your game the first time you see it. It looks like someone teleported a vegetable from Mars right into your kitchen. But in truth, kohlrabi is incredibly versatile. Kohlrabi, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale are all cousins, so you can expect that any flavor that goes nicely with one, will be lovely with the other.

After asking a formerly vegetarian friend what she likes to do with kohlrabi best, she said, "Honestly, just peel it, slice it, sprinkle it with salt and eat it raw." We love her style and hope you follow suit. You can basically treat kohlrabi, both the green and purple varieties, like a sweet, overgrown radish. Do be sure to remove all of the peel (which is really tough), unless you plan to cook it until it's soft.

Kohlrabi is a crispy, crunchy alien vegetable that you can prepare in more ways than we were able to catalogue. Here are some of our favorites:

More Tips & Variations

The veggies here still have a little bite (which I love). If you want them more tender, simply cook a little longer.

Veggie broth was used, but you could use chicken broth, if you like.

If you want to keep things vegetarian, opt for a vegetarian fish sauce.

If you don&rsquot have fresh chili pepper, add some red chili flakes to taste.

Harvesting Kohlrabi Leaves

Take no more than one-third of the foliage when you harvest kohlrabi greens. If you plan to harvest the bulbs, leave enough foliage to provide solar energy for the formation of the vegetable.

Cut the leaves off rather than pulling to prevent injury to the bulb. Wash greens well before eating.

For a consistent harvest of the greens, practice successive planting in spring by sowing every week during the cool, rainy season. This will allow you to harvest the leaves from a constant source of plants.

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Kohlrabi: 4 Easy Ways

Kohlrabi is likely one of those vegetables that you hadn't met before your Fresh Fork days, but it is an incredibly tasty and versatile veggie. After you've peeled the thick outside layer off, try one of these 4 variations on preparing it!

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Remove the root end, leaves, and peel/slice off the thick outer

layer to expose the inner flesh. Dice the kohlrabi into approximately 1/2" inch pieces.

Toss the diced kohlrabi with olive oil, garlic, and salt. Add some coarsely chopped onion pieces if you like, half way thru roasting. Roast in a roasting pan (not a cookie sheet, needs sides) so that you may toss them over every now and then. You want to cook them until the bottom starts to stick then toss and repeat. It will take about 45 minutes to cook.

After you remove them from the oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve warm.

In a thick bottomed skillet, cook diced kohlrabi with butter. As the kohlrabi starts to brown a bit (5 minutes or so), add some onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook until kohlrabi is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes depending on heat. Toss regularly.

For a creamy sauce, dust 1 tbsp of flour over the cooking kohlrabi. Then pour in the cream or milk three quarters cup of milk. Stir until the milk thickens. Serve warm.

Peel the kohlrabi. Shred it on a box grater and mix with shredded apple. Use a ratio of about 2/3 kohlrabi to 1/3 apple. Toss with either just apple cider vinegar or for a creamier slaw, try cream, mustard, and a little vinegar. Add onion and parsley (if you like) and season with salt and pepper. Chill one hour or up to overnight. Serve chilled, and goes great with pork and BBQ.

Sweat the mirepoix (carrot, celery, onion) with some butter over very low heat in a covered pan and give it about 15-20 minutes. About halfway through, add the thyme and the bayleaf. Check occasionally to make sure they are not browning, but softening.

Add peeled, sliced kohlrabi, and then start adding in warmed chicken or veggie stock to cover the veggies (you might only need 2.5-3.5 cups, reserve some stock in case you want it thinner), and simmer. When the veggies are very soft, remove the bay leaf and purée the soup using an immersion blender, in an upright blender or using a food mill.

Season the soup with salt and pepper, and hit the soup with some cream if you want a thicker, creamier texture.