Kohlrabi (aka knol knols)
Kohlrabi belongs to the cabbage family and got its name from a German word meaning “cabbage-turnip”. They were popular in Germany during the 16th century and only recently have they been appreciated elsewhere.
Both the leaves and swollen underground stem are edible, specially the stem which can be green, white or purple. Its flavor is milder than a turnip’s. If young and tender they may be eaten raw, very thinly sliced. Diced or julienned kohlrabi is good in salads, stir-fries, coated in batter and deep fried or steamed, and accompanied with a cheese sauce. If sliced kohlrabi is blanched first it can be frozen for up to 12 months.
For those unfamiliar with this jewel of a vegetable, its appearance somewhat resembles a hot air balloon. Picture the turnip-shaped globe as the passenger section; its multiple stems that sprout from all parts of its globular form resemble the many vertical ropes, and the deep green leaves at the top represent the parachute. Kohlrabi is often mistakenly referred to as a root vegetable, but in fact it grows just above ground, forming a unique, turnip-shaped swelling at the base of the stem.
Kohlrabi possesses many attributes worth notice:
Low in calories, only 19 for a half cup raw, sliced
High in dietary fiber, 2.5 grams for one-half cup
Potassium content peaks at 245 grams for one-half cup
Vitamin content for that same one-half cup includes 25 I.U. vitamin A, 43.4 mg. vitamin C, 11.3 mcg folic acid, and 16.8 mg. calcium.
Of kohlrabi’s two varieties the purple globe is sweeter and tastier than the apple-green. Both have a pale green, almost ivory colored, flesh inside. While the entire vegetable is edible raw or cooked, the small, young kohlrabi, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches (3.5 to 5 cm) in diameter, is ideal for its flavor and texture.
This attractive stem vegetable is available at its best during winter months from November until March. Over-maturity as well as exposure of crop to excessive sunlight makes the stem woody and tough in texture resulting in its poor eating quality. Fresh kohlrabies should have crunchy texture and impart rich flavor.
In the stores, buy medium-sized, fresh tubers and heavy in hand for their size. Avoid those with cracks, cuts, spoiled or mold infested. Do not buy if they have lighter weight for their size and excessively woody in consistency as it is indication of over-maturity and out of flavor. If sliced kohlrabi is blanched first it can be frozen for up to 12 months.
Knol-knols have good keeping qualities; can be placed at room temperature for 2-3 days. However, If you wish to store for few more days, then keep them in the refrigerator set at temperature below 35 degree F and high humidity level to maintain vitality.
Kohlrabi stems should be washed thoroughly in clean running water and swished in saline water for about 10-15 minutes in order to remove any surface soil, dirt and any insecticide/fungicide residues.
Just before cooking, remove any leaves and trim the stem ends. Peel the skin using paring knife.
Here are some serving tips:
- Fresh young crispy knol-knol can be used raw in salad/coleslaw.
- It mixes well with other vegetables and greens in a variety of kohlrabi recipes like squash empanadas.
- Peeled stem, cut into slices or cubes, can be mixed with other vegetables like potatoes and stewed with onion, garlic and tomato.
- Stewed knol-knol cubes mix well with meats and poultry.
Look no further
Kohlrabi, once the favored vegetable of European nobles and peasants alike, has fallen off the veggie pop charts. Oh, yes, you can find kohlrabi in the produce department of many supermarkets (Hugos, Target, Walmart, SuperOne and Amazing Grains), but when the checker lifts the bunch out of the grocery cart, notice the look of puzzlement on his or her face. What follows is a flurry of activity at the cash register. First, the checker holds up the innocent vegetable and shouts to the closest checker, “What is this stuff?” Next, follows a rifling through the little book that lists the code numbers. Then as the checker pushes the poor kohlrabi toward the bagger, there’s an exchange of puzzled expressions.
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We can only guess that other more pungently flavored vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus have simply upstaged the kohlrabi whose flavor is mild and delicately sweet, its texture, crisp and moist. Though the flavor of kohlrabi is unassertive, delicate hints of cabbage and broccoli come to the foreground.
Don’t know what to make? Here are a few recipes:
Kohlrabi Stir Fry- http://www.grit.com/food/recipes/kohlrabi-stir-fry-zm0z12maznem.aspx