What is kohlrabi?
Many Australians are not familiar with kohlrabi. A great introduction to this vegetable is a creamy kohlrabi gratin that showcases its delicate flavour. Sauté onion and cook peeled, chopped kohlrabi with potatoes and herbs, add low-fat cooking cream, stock, spinach and chopped parsley and transfer to a baking tray, add breadcrumbs on top and cook until golden.
The ugly-duckling kohlrabi is a descendent of wild cabbage (like broccoli and cauliflower) that was found in Europe in the 14th century. It spread to Germany, England, Italy, Spain and other parts of the Mediterranean in the 16th century. Kohlrabi has even been mentioned in the Apicius, the world’s oldest cookbook.
Nowadays, kohlrabi is very popular in Europe and can be found in Israeli, Chinese and African kitchens. Kohlrabi has been popular in many cuisines of the Indian subcontinent since its introduction in the 1600s.
There are two types of kohlrabi available in Australia – white (or light green) and purple skinned. When cut, both types of kohlrabi have a creamy-yellow, white flesh.
Kohlrabi tastes similar to broccoli or cabbage but is milder and sweeter and has the texture of a potato. The purple-skinned kohlrabi tastes sweeter than the white variety.
Why kohlrabi is good to eat
Kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C.
- It is also a good source of potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure) and other minerals such as copper and manganese (important for brain and nerve function).
- Kohlrabi is high in dietary fibre.
- Energy – 100 g of kohlrabi supplies 135 kJ.
How are they grown and harvested?
Kohlrabi grows best during the cooler months of the year. It looks like a root vegetable but the bulb of kohlrabi is the stem just above soil level that grows above the base of the vegetable.
Plants like a sunny location and plenty of fertiliser. Seeds can be transplanted after about five weeks and the vegetable is ready for picking about 10 weeks after planting. The bulbs are usually about 3 cm across at this stage. The kohlrabi bulb becomes tough and fibrous with age so it can be harvested until the bulb is about 12 cm across. It is best to use secateurs or a serrated knife to cut the kohlrabi just above ground level.
Choose the smallest kohlrabi that you can find. Larger kohlrabi tend to be more woody and fibrous and not as pleasant to eat. The vegetable should have smooth, firm dark green or purple bulbs and the leaves should be fresh and dark green. You should avoid selecting kohlrabi that has a soft bulb, has cracks or other visible damage.
How to store and keep kohlrabi
Store kohlrabi in the crisper section of your fridge. Cut off and discard the leaves and wrap the kohlrabi bulb in plastic. Kohlrabi last for up to a week if it is stored this way. It is best to use kohlrabi soon after you buy it as it loses flavour if stored for too long.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Better Health Channel
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