Q. What is kohlrabi and how is it grown?
A. Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family grown for its swollen, turnip-shaped portion of the stem which rests on the ground. The edible portion can be white, purple or green with a creamy white interior. They are eaten raw in salads or can be cooked like a turnip.
Q. Does kohlrabi require any special cultural conditions to grow?
A. Kohlrabi can be grown anywhere that turnips can be produced. They do best in cool weather with abundant moisture to prevent the edible portion from becoming tough and woody. Kohlrabi requires 50 to 65 days from seed to maturity and should be harvested when slightly larger than a golf ball.
Description - The kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage (crucifer or mustard) family. The part we eat is the enlarged stem from which the leaves develop. The enlarged stem is best harvested as soon as it grows to a diameter of two to three inches. Kohlrabi may be white, green or purple in color. Leaves of young plants may be used like spinach, or mustard greens.
Culture - Kohlrabi is grown as a cool season vegetable and should be planted in very early spring or in early fall. Seeds are planted about 1/4 inch deep in rows about two feet apart and thinned to four inches apart in the row. Ample soil moisture and a high soil fertility are necessary for rapid growth of high quality kohlrabi. Kohlrabi will be ready to harvest in 30 to 40 days from the date seed is sown.
Availability - Fresh kohlrabi can be found the year round in Texas although it is most commonly available during fall and early winter. Commercial production is concentrated in the south Texas area but small plantings can be found statewide. Locally available kohlrabi can be found during March through May and again in the months of October through December.
Selection - Look for kohlrabi bulbs that appear fresh and that are less than three inches in diameter. Leaf stems should be succulent and tender. Large kohlrabi can be woody and tough.
Storage - With the leaf stems removed, kohlrabi can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. Storage life can be extended if kohlrabies are placed in sealed plastic bags.
Nutrition Information - Kohlrabi is a good source of vitamin C and potassium. It is low in both sodium and calories. One cup diced and cooked kohlrabi contains only 40 calories and 140% of the RDA for vitamin C.
Preparation - Small kohlrabi bulbs which are young and tender generally do not require peeling. Medium to larger sizes should be peeled to remove the protective outer skin. The crisp flesh can be served raw in salads, as a relish, or as a crunchy accompaniment to dips. The bulb can be sliced, cut into quarters, cubes or julienne strips and steamed until crisp -- tender. Kohlrabi bulbs can be hollowed out and stuffed with a vegetable or meat filling.
Microwave Instructions - Trim root ends and stems. Cut about four to five medium Kohlrabi (two pounds) into 1/4" slices. Place in a 2-quart covered casserole with 1/4 cup water. Microwave on high until tender (10-15 minutes) stirring every four minutes. Let stand five minutes.