Kohlrabi

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 22. Apr. 2020
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​Kohlrabi’s mild flavor and tender texture has made it one of the more popular vegetables of the cabbage variety. On top of that, this delicious ingredient has a slew of health benefits.

kohlrabi

Kohlrabi…

  • ...is easy to digest.
    Even those with sensitive stomachs can enjoy kohlrabi.
  • ...has healthy leaves.
    Kohlrabi leaves are definitely too good to throw away, as they contain up to three times as many vital substances as the vegetable itself. To prepare them, simply wash with warm water, dab dry, chop and sprinkle over vegetables, soups or salads.
  • ...strengthens your immune system.
    The mustard oils (glucosinolates) contained in kohlrabi support the immune cells in the intestines and strengthen the immune system overall. 100 grams of kohlrabi also contain 67 milligrams of vitamin C.
  • ...can help protect against sunburn.
    The sulforaphane in kohlrabi stimulates the skin cells to produce certain proteins, which can reduce the risk of sunburn by an average of 38 percent.
  • ...can help you lose weight.
    Virtually fat-free and extremely low in calories, kohlrabi is the ideal vegetable for those who want to lose weight.
  • ...might help prevent cancer.
    Kohlrabi contains sulforaphane, a secondary plant substance that can help protect the body’s cells from developing certain types of cancer.
  • ...has anti-inflammatory effects.
    Eating a lot of kohlrabi can provide natural protection against harmful free radicals. Research has shown that the mustard oils in kohlrabi can stop inflammatory processes and might help slow down arthritis and respiratory diseases.

What You Should Know About Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi belongs to the cabbage family, although it doesn’t look much like its vegetable cousins. In contrast to other types of cabbage, kohlrabi does not develop from the leaves or flowers of the plant, but from a thickening of the plant stem above ground. Kohlrabi is a cross between a wild cabbage and a wild turnip. Most kohlrabi is light green in color, although purple kohlrabi has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Origins

The exact origin of kohlrabi is still disputed today, however it is know that the vegetable was already being widely consumed in ancient Rome, where it was know as "caulo rapa".

Seasonality

Although kohlrabi is available all year round, it tastes best during its peak season from April/May through late summer.

Flavor

Kohlrabi is slightly sweet and mild, with a slight cabbage-y taste.

Find all our kohlrabi recipes here.

How Healthy Is Kohlrabi?

Virtually fat-free and extremely low in calories, kohlrabi has long been a favorite ingredient of the figure-conscious and dieters. Like other types of cabbage, kohlrabi also has a considerable vitamin C content; just 100 grams will cover half your daily requirements. Kohlrabi also boasts an impressive amount of vitamins A and K as well as niacin, biotin and folic acid.

The mustard oils (glucosinolates) contained in kohlrabi are also great for the immune system and support stomach and intestine health. And unlike most other types of cabbage, kohlrabi is extremely easy to digest, making it a great option for those with sensitive stomachs. And remember-- kohlrabi leaves contain a particularly large serving of vitamins and minerals, almost two to three times as much of them as the root itself. 

Kohlrabi Nutritional Info (100 g)  
Calories 24
Protein 2 g
Fat  0.1 g
Carbohydrates 3.7 g
Fiber 1.4 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Purchasing

If possible, buy kohlrabi with the leaves still attached. In addition to their health benefits, kohlrabi leaves are a great indicator of the vegetable’s freshness. If the leaves are green and crunchy, the quality of the kohlrabi itself is usually up to par. The outer skin of the root should also look undamaged and smooth. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the kohlrabi, the more tender it tastes - very large roots can often have a wood-like flavor.

Storage

Fresh kohlrabi can stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 1 week. It’s better to separate the leaves when storing, removing them from the root and keeping them in a plastic bag before preparing them. 

Preparation

Wash the kohlrabi thoroughly, cut off the leaves and peel the root. Cut the lower end with a sharp knife, removing any woody, fibrous parts. 

What To Make With Kohlrabi

The light green kohlrabi leaves taste great and are full of nutrients - far too good to throw away! Therefore, only remove large leaves that are no longer quite crisp and fresh and prepare the rest this way: wash them thoroughly, shake dry, then chop them very finely and sprinkle over the kohlrabi or other vegetables, or vegetable soup or mixed salad. You can also use the cooking water for soups or sauces, for example. It contains about 50 percent of the valuable mustard oils that dissolve from the kohlrabi during cooking.

Unlike most other types of cabbage, kohlrabi is easy to digest and has a particularly high nutrient content. In order to ensure the healthful integrity of the vegetable, make sure to keep cook times short when preparing kohlrabi. Steam it in a little salted water or broth for a maximum of 10-15 minutes, taking it out when it is still relatively firm. Whole roots need a while longer to cook, about 20-30 minutes. Those who like the fine cabbage taste of kohlrabi are spoilt for choice. The crunchy texture makes it delicious raw when tossed into salads. It’s also delicious in casseroles, gratins or vegetarian buffers.

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