- 24 Sep Kohlrabi (Storage + Cooking Tips)
- TRY THESE:
- When to Harvest Kohlrabi
- How to Harvest Kohlrabi
- How to Store Kohlrabi
- Origin & Classification
- Choosing the Best
- How to Store Properly
- Preparation Tips
- Flavor Combinations
- Cooking Ideas
- Time to Raid the Produce Section
- Canning Kohlrabi
24 Sep Kohlrabi (Storage + Cooking Tips)
Posted at 23:12h in Recipes, Storage + Cooking Tips by Archetype
- It’s a member of the cabbage family
- The whole plant is edible, but usually, when we talk about kohlrabi we mean the bulb of the plant, as we do here.
- The bulb kind of tastes like broccoli stems (my favorite part of broccoli!)
- It doesn’t have to be peeled, but the peel can be tough so I usually do.
- You can eat it raw in slaws and salads, as well as roasted and stir-fried.
Kohlrabi is a unique and tasty veggie. It requires a bit more prep time but is totally worth it. Here are a few details on how to cut it:
- Cut off the stems: If the stems and leaves are still attached to the kohlrabi, cut them off. (Save the leaves and cook them just like kale or turnip greens.)
- Slice in half: Cut the kohlrabi head in half down through its center.
- Slice into quarters: Place the halved kohlrabi cut side down and slice into quarters.
- Cut out the core: Use the tip of your knife to cut at an angle through the core. Discard the tough center.
- Peel the kohlrabi: Now that you have small, manageable quarters, use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the tough skin.
Slice off the top of the kohlrabi: If you want to simply slice each quarter for baking or stir-frying, begin by cutting off the top of the vegetables
Slice: Use a sharp chef’s knife to carefully cut the vegetable into slices of even thickness.
Cut off the leafy stalks (you can use the leaves as you would kale or collard greens; be sure to use them with a few days) and scrub the kohlrabi bulbs clean, wrap them loosely in plastic or a paper bag, and refrigerate them until you’re ready to use them. Fresh kohlrabi will last up to several weeks in the fridge.
Kohlrabi Salad with Cilantro
Kohlrabi is ready for harvest 40 to 80 or more days after sowing depending on the variety.
Know the variety and days to maturity of the variety you are growing. The tastiest kohlrabi is eaten young and tender. Kohlrabi that grows too large will become woody, tough, and bitter tasting.
Kohlrabi looks like an above-ground root, but it is an enlarged stem with leaves growing out of it. Kohlrabi has the flavor of tender cabbage hearts.
When to Harvest Kohlrabi
- Harvest spring planted kohlrabi when the enlarged stem is 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in diameter.
- Harvest summer and autumn planted kohlrabi when the stem is 3 to 4 inches (7-10 cm) in diameter.
- Harvest giant kohlrabi varieties when they are 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm) in diameter.
- Kohlrabi that ripens in mild and cool weather will be tastier than kohlrabi that matures in warm and hot weather. Where summers are cool, grow kohlrabi spring through autumn. Where summers are hot, grow kohlrabi in fall and winter.
- Kohlrabi that matures in cool weather can remain in the ground until temperatures fall into the 20°sF (-6°C). Garden-stored kohlrabi can freeze once or twice in winter and still be edible.
Harvest a kohlrabi stem by cutting it from the base of the plant with a serrated knife.
How to Harvest Kohlrabi
- Harvest a kohlrabi stem by cutting it from the base of the plant with a serrated knife. Trim the leaves from the stem before cooking or storing.
- Kohlrabi stems can be eaten raw or cooked like turnips. The leaves can be eaten raw or steamed just tender.
- Snip the leaves from the stem any time during the growing season for eating but don’t take all of the leaves so that the plant will continue to grow.
Kohlrabi with the leaves attached will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 weeks, without the leaves 2 to 3 months.
How to Store Kohlrabi
- Store kohlrabi cold and moist, 32°-40°F (0°-4°C) and 95 percent relative humidity. Cold and moist storage is a challenge. A refrigerator is cold but the air is dry. Place kohlrabi in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper section.
- Kohlrabi with the leaves attached will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 weeks, without the leaves 2 to 3 months.
- If there is no room in the refrigerator, kohlrabi can also be packed in a container—a bucket or plastic storage box or cooler–in moist sand, peat moss, or sawdust. Don’t pack stems too tightly; if the stems touch they can start to rot; be sure to leave 2 inches (5 cm) of insulating material around at the top, bottom, and sides of the stored roots. Set the lid loosely so that there is good air circulation and place the container in as cool a place as possible short of freezing such as a basement, garage, or shed.
- Check roots in storage often and remove any that show signs of deterioration. If stored stems get too warm they will sprout new tops and become woody.
More tips at How to Grow Kohlrabi.
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.
What Makes a Good Kohlrabi?
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.
How to Store It
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.
Eat It All
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.
(Well, Except the Peel)
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.
Cook It… Or Don’t
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.
Try It: Shaved Kohlrabi with Apple and Hazelnuts
More Tips for Farmers’ Market Shopping
Kohlrabi – have you ever heard of the vegetable with this unusual name?
The round turnip-like bulbs offer a variety of uses in the kitchen. With their firm flesh and subtle taste they make not only a great side dish, but also much more.
Let’s find out more about this white and green (and sometimes purple) veggie, its characteristics, and what you can do to jazz up your menu with it!
Photo by Nikki Cervone
Origin & Classification
First of all, what’s the deal with the interesting name?
Because no other countries consume as much of this vegetable as the Germans do, its local name has been adopted internationally. English, Japanese, and Russian speaking people also know it by this distinct name.
In the original German, “kohl” means cabbage, and “rabi” (a Swiss German variant of rübe) means turnip. Put them together, and what do you get? Kohlrabi, or “turnip cabbage.”
Besides Germany, where the vegetable first gained popularity, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Vietnam, and the United States are all producers of this special brassica. According to Matt Duckor at Epicurious, the vegetable first appeared in Italy, where drawings of it in herbal books have been found as far back as the 16th century.
The bulb (more like an enlarged tuberous stem, really) grows aboveground and can reach a size of up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) in diameter, however, its texture is best if harvested when it is between 2 and 4 inches around. The bulb becomes tough and woody in texture as it grows.
Its shape is a round, squat bulb, similar to a turnip. Leaves grow on top, and stems extend from the middle of the bulb like long, thin arms.
Photo by Kendall Vanderslice.
According to the University of California Berkeley Wellness blog, the vegetable contains lots of vitamins and minerals, include high amounts of vitamins C, B6, and E as well as potassium. It’s also a good source of glucosinolates (like other members of the cabbage family) which may improve antioxidant functions of the body.
Its flavor makes kohlrabi a perfect vegetable to combine with several types of spices and other vegetables, and it can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Choosing the Best
The best way to detect the freshness of the veggie in the grocery store or at the farmers market is to have a close look at its surface.
It should feel firm, and have smooth skin without any spots or cracks. If the leaves are still on, they should look fresh and crunchy.
It can be difficult to avoid choosing specimens with that unwanted woody flavor based on appearance alone. But in general, smaller kohlrabi tend to taste less woody than bigger ones.
Smaller kohlrabi have a sweeter flavor and more tender texture.
How to Store Properly
There are some details you should know in order to keep kohlrabi fresh at home.
The best way to store this vegetable is to remove any leaves (and reserve them for later – they are quite tasty as well) and keep the bulb in the fridge, wrapped in a moist kitchen towel or in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer. This will keep your kohlrabi crunchy for about a week.
A colander with a stand base can come in handy for washing fresh produce like kohlrabi.
Once you cut it, if you do not wish to consume the whole vegetable at once, you can wrap the cut surface with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. If you cut the vegetable into smaller pieces, they can be stored in an airtight container or plastic bag. Consume cut kohlrabi within a few days.
Freezing is also an option, if you’d like to be able to store kohlrabi for longer periods.
Peel and cut the flesh into chunks or slices, and blanch the pieces for about three minutes in boiling water. Transfer from the boiling water to an ice water bath to stop the cooking, then strain, blot dry, and store in an airtight container before putting it into the freezer. This is especially helpful to prevent a change in texture and color when thawing and cooking again.
Removing the stems.
When it comes to the leaves, they have a much shorter shelf life. These will only stay fresh for a few days.
Wait to wash the leaves until right before you are ready to consume them, or they will rot quickly. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, wrapped in paper towels if they are damp when you bring them home.
If possible, it’s a great idea to use the leaves because they contain lots of nutrients, even more than the bulbs.
The flavor of the leaves has been compared to kale or collard greens. Why not roughly chop and add them to a salad, or blanch or sauté them for a few minutes to serve as a side?
However you are going to process the bulb, always make sure to remove the stalks and any rough edges around the base first. They will taste woody with a hard texture, and therefore aren’t suited for consumption.
After that, peel the skin with a small knife or a vegetable peeler and cut into chunks, slices, or strips – whatever you prefer or that your recipe requires.
Another great advantage of this vegetable is that is can be consumed raw. Shredded or finely chopped, kohlrabi makes a great addition to raw salads and also works as a healthy snack. Its raw flavor is similar to a sweet turnip with a texture like an apple.
Shredded kohlrabi makes a tasty addition to a variety of dishes, like salads and vegetable fritters.
In general, the cooking time for a whole bulb is 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size. Chopped, the cook time decreases to 15 to 20 minutes. Steam the vegetable rather than boiling, to preserve the nutrients.
The test cooks over at The Kitchn also recommend roasting it, as it caramelizes in the high heat.
It’s delicious in combination with other root vegetables, especially in a root veggie roast, as recommended above; and it’s also great when blended to make our recipe for creamy vegan kohlrabi soup.
Kohlrabi also makes an excellent pickle, or it can be shredded and made into fritters or a raw slaw with a vinagrette or mayonnaise dressing.
If you’re a fan of creative cooking, there is no better friend to have than kohlrabi. This member of the brassica family goes well with numerous spices and herbs. In fact, I haven’t come across a flavor combination that I didn’t enjoy. It is the perfect base to test a wide variety of flavor combinations.
Some of my favorite flavor combinations include caraway, curry, nutmeg, tarragon, and thyme.
According to Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg’s bestselling book The Flavor Bible, available on Amazon, some additional herbs and spices that pair well with this veggie are:
- cheese (Parmesan or Swiss)
It also pairs nicely with the pungent herb ramson, similar to North American ramps.
Try it with other vegetables too, like cabbage, carrots, celery, leeks, onions, and potatoes.
Provided that you can find a few medium-sized kohlrabi, I have three wonderful ideas for you to try out at home:
1. Fill It
Did you enjoy my recipe for stuffed onions? This recipe is just as delicious when it’s made with kohlrabi instead.
Boil the bulbs whole in vegetable or chicken stock (with stems, leaves, and any tough ends removed), then let them cool. Remove the tops, and hollow them out.
Just as you did with the onions, this hollowed out portion can be added to the stuffing. The remaining directions and suggestions for the recipe stay the same.
2. Spiralize It
For a refreshing raw salad with a spicy sauce packed with flavorful ingredients like rice vinegar, ginger, soy sauce, and lots of pepper flakes, give my recipe for spicy spiralized kohlrabi slaw a try.
Photo by Nikki Cervone
3. Fry It
Make some vegetarian cutlets! For this dish, cook the bulb whole until it is al dente – you don’t want it to become too soft.
Leave to cool, and then slice lengthwise into 1-inch-thick pieces. Toss in beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, and fry in a pan with butter or olive oil until golden brown on both sides.
Tip: For a more crunchy texture, do not cook the kohlrabi before breading and frying it. The centers will remain crisp, with a fresh, sweet flavor.
Photo by Kendall Vanderslice.
Time to Raid the Produce Section
Kohlrabi is a versatile member of the cabbage family. It has a subtle and mild flavor, is easy to prepare, and pairs nicely with many different spices that you probably already have in your rack at home.
Kohlrabi slaw with red cabbage, apples, and cilantro.
Plus, you can enjoy it raw in salads or as a great veggie snack dipped in hummus.
Why are so many people still unfamiliar with it? Beats me! But you can change that – head down to your local farmers market or grocer and buy a few bulbs when they’re in season.
Kohlrabi cucumber salad with fresh herbs.
What is your experience with this vegetable? Have you ever cooked with kohlrabi?
If so, how did you prepare it, and what additional recipes can you recommend? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!
Photo credits: , unless otherwise noted. Additional writing and editing contributed by Kendall Vanderslice and Allison Sidhu.
About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.
By BLee September 28, 20110 found this helpful
Sweet & Sour Kohlrabi
2 lbs. shredded kohlrabi
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1-1/2 cups Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/2 Tbsp. whole cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 Tbsp. peppercorns
Making this is a two day process. If you try skipping the first step the texture does not come out right.
Also, if you do not have kosher salt, canning salt works just as well.
1. Remove stems, leaves and roots of kohlrabi then peel
2. using a kitchen slicer with the smallest blade, shred kohlrabi. OR
3. using a food processor with a medium sized grating blade, grate kohlrabi making sure you get mice round pieces
4. place in bowl and sprinkle with salt
5. toss with hands making sure that the salt is evenly distributed
6. cover and allow to sit in a cool place for about 24 hours
1. Drain Kohlrabi
2. Combine remaining ingredients in pot and bring to a boil
3. Using a canning funnel, pack kohlrabi into hot jars and cover with liquid to within 1/4″ of rim
4. place seals and rings on jars and tighten
5. process in a water bath for about 20 minutes
6. using a jar tong remove jars to rack and allow to cool
7. seals should pop down
8. if one does not just put it in the fridge and use that one first
9. this should age for about a month before eating. Advertisement
Makes about 6 pint jars
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