Kohlrabi – The Botanical Perspective

Also known as cabbage turnip, Kohlrabi’s name gives away its roots – the bulb shaped vegetable is a crossbreed between a turnip and wild cabbage. Its flavour is similar to the mild taste of a turnip, but it grows above ground like a cabbage. Botanically kohlrabi belongs to the cabbage family, although it is actually the thickened stem of the two year old plant, rather than composed of the flowers and leaves like other cabbage types.

Food Facts Food Facts

Kohlrabi

Class

cabbage

Calories

30 kcal per 100g

Nutrients

4.1g carbohydrate, 1.6 g fibre, 0.2g fat, 2.1g protein per 100g

Season

May to October

Storage

store at 0-2°C in the fridge

Shelf life

up to one week

Kohlrabi – Origin, Cultivation and Characteristics

The exact origin of the kohlrabi is not clear, but both the Mediterranean region and Central Asia are possibilities. The first evidence of the existence of the vegetables stems from 16th century Europe. Kohlrabi is relatively undemanding and grows in many areas, particularly in West and Central Europe. In Switzerland kohlrabi is often grown in greenhouses outside of its season.

Kohlrabi comes in a wide variety of colours. Usually it is a pale shade of light green, but sometimes it is purple or blue. The peel hides the firm, juicy and sometimes slightly woody fruit pulp, which is intensely sweet, nutty and slightly cabbage like in taste, especially when eaten raw. Cooked kohlrabi tastes a little milder. Fresh kohlrabi can be recognized by its crisp green leaves, so you should only buy kohlrabi with its leaves still attached. In fact, the kohlrabi leaves can also be eaten and are bursting with nutrients.

Kohlrabi – Storage

Kohlrabi is not sensitive to cold and is best stored in the bottom shelf, or the 0° zone of the fridge, where it stays fresh and crisp for up to a week. You can further prolong its shelf life by wrapping kohlrabi in a damp, clean kitchen towel before storing it in the fridge. The leaves should be separated and kept in a plastic bag or an air tight container in the vegetable drawer. 

Kohlrabi – In Soup or Roasted

Kohlrabi is a versatile vegetable. Unlike its cabbage relatives it is easily digestible and tastes good even in its raw condition. It can be consumed as part of a raw diet, cut into strips and served alongside cream cheese or a spicy dip. Combine kohlrabi with carrots or beetroot for a tasty salad. Cooked kohlrabi is a delicious ingredient in a vegetable soup or as a side for meat.

However, there are also more creative ways to use kohlrabi. Cut into wafer thin slices it can be used in Lasagna in place of the pasta sheets. Kohlrabi fries provide a low carb and low fat variation of the popular original – cut the vegetable into thin strips, drizzle with oil and season according to taste, perhaps with salt, pepper, paprika and curry powder. Roast the kohlrabi fries at 200° for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Covered in breadcrumbs, kohlrabi can be served as a vegetarian schnitzel alternative.

 

Kohlrabi – Low in Carbs, High in Nutrients

If you aim for a balanced and nutrient rich diet, kohlrabi should be a staple vegetable. It is a good source of fibre but low in calories. Kohlrabi is also rich in vitamin C, which is important for a functioning immune system, and beta-carotene, a vitamin A derivative that supports healthy vision. Kohlrabi also provides the mineral potassium for healthy nerves and muscles. 

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