The Food Files: Kohlrabi

Every so often I plan on doing an expose on a different foodstuff: what it looks like, how to store it, how to eat it, etc. Kohlrabi is perfect for my first “food file” post as before it arrived in my CSA share I had never even heard of it, let alone laid eyes on it.  I immediately began scanning the web for guidance on how to treat my new-found tasty friend.

What is it? Kohlrabi’s name comes from the German words for cabbage and turnip. Its relatives (bred from the same wild cabbage plant-Brassica oleracea) include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and brussels sprouts.

What does it taste like and how do I eat it? Like many of its relatives, kohlrabi can be enjoyed raw or cooked.  The bulbous stem, which can be green or purple depending on the variety, has a taste and texture similar to a broccoli stem. I peeled off its tough purple outer layer with a paring knife and sliced it into pieces resembling apple slices.  I noted a turnip-y radish-like mildly spicy taste.  It works beautifully as a vehicle for dip or hummus.  Online there are recommendations to slice, dice, or grate it and add it to salads.

The greens are also edible.  I washed, chopped, and blanched mine before freezing them for later enjoyment.  I plan to use the greens as I would any other frozen green: tossed with pasta, in egg bakes, soups and stews, or as a side.

How do I store it? If the leaves are still attached to the bulb, trim them and store them separately.  If the leaves are still firm and green–they’ll last a few days–they can be cooked and stored like other greens.  The bulbs should be stored unwashed in a plastic bag.  They’ll hold for a week or two in the refrigerator.  Smaller kohlrabi are sweeter and more tender than their larger counterparts.  I noted woody tough spots that were nearly impossible to cut through in bulbs bigger than tennis ball size. Cut and peeled kohlrabi turns brownish after a day, storing it sealed, or immersed in water may solve this.


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