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Kohlrabi - or 'German Turnip' – is another member of the amazing Brassicae family, which includes the abbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and brussels sprouts.  They are all bred from, and are the same species as, the wild cabbage plant (Brassica oleracea).  Kohlrabi is a low, stout cultivar of the cabbage that will grow almost anywhere. It has been selected for its swollen, nearly spherical shape. The name comes from the German Kohl ("cabbage") plus Rübe ~ Rabi (Swiss German variant) ("turnip"), because the swollen stem resembles the latter.

The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter.  Kohlrabi can be eaten raw as well as cooked.

As a remarkable source of vitamin C, kohlrabi helps your body absorb iron. Iron improves oxygen levels in red blood cells, which increases energy. A half cup of kohlrabi offers 245 grams of potassium, 25 I.U. of vitamin A, 43.4 milligrams of vitamin C, 11.3 micrograms of folic acid, 16.8 mg of calcium and about 10 mg of choline. It’s a low fat vegetable with only 19 calories in a half cup serving that provides a healthy 23 mg of omega 3 fatty acids and 1.5 grams of protein.

Most Americans aren’t getting enough fiber in their diets. A serving of kohlrabi provides five grams of soluble fiber the kind that’s important for heart health. Most people need from twenty five to thirty five grams of fiber per day based on age and sex, and a serving of kohlrabi supplies almost a fifth of that amount.Kohlrabi is also a good source of B vitamins as well as magnesium another mineral important for normalizing blood pressure. Magnesium is also important for a healthy heart and strong bones.

Kohlrabi's true origin is unclear, but it was already known by the 1st century A.D., for Pliny the Elder mentions a "Corinthian turnip", which--from its described growing habits--is almost certainly kohlrabi. Apicius, who wrote the oldest known cookbook on cooking and dining in imperial Rome, also mentions the vegatble in his recipes.

Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 800 A.D., ordered kohlrabi grown in all the lands under his reign; one thinks of Charlemagne as French, but his city of residence, then called Aix-la-Chapelle, is now Aachen, which is in the Western portion of Germany--hence kohlrabi's German name, which means "cabbage turnip". Kohlrabi found its way into Northern India in the 1600s, where it soon became a dietary staple.  Kohlrabi is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in Kashmir, and more recently, it has become an established vegetable in China and Africa.

In America, the vegetable remains sadly neglected; only in the South does it enjoy some popularity.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Remove stems by pulling or cutting them off the kohlrabi globe. Stems and leaves can be chopped and included in a tossed salad. Their flavor is mild and takes well to salad dressing. If the kohlrabi is small, there is no need to peel it, however you may want to cut off the tough base end. If you've purchased large kohlrabi, peel it and slice off the tough woody base before slicing or dicing.

Slice or cut into julienne and include on a relish tray with dips.

Coarsely grate kohlrabi into a tossed salad. Because it is mild, succulent and porous, it absorbs the flavor of a mild or pungent salad dressing quite well.

Dice kohlrabi and combine with your favorite vegetables and dressing for a chopped salad with delightful crispness.

Slice kohlrabi, wrap in plastic, and pack in your brown bag lunch for a crunchy snack.

Chop and include as one of the ingredients in a raw soup.


A nice collection of kohlrabi recipes