What is Kohlrabi?

Brassica oleracea L., Gongylodes Group

Kohlrabi is also known as Cabbage Turnip, German Turnip, Turnip Cabbage, Chou-rave (French), Couve rabano (Portuguese).

It’s a biennial vegetable, grown for its sweet, crunchy and bulbous, turniplike stem which is eaten raw or cooked. The swollen stem is usually pale green but purple varieties are also cultivated and marketed.

The leafy greens with long stalks grow directly from the swollen bulb. They are also edible and can be cooked much like Kale or Collard greens.

Kohlrabi is a cultivated variety of the wild cabbage, Brassica oleracea and is usually classified in the Brassica oleracea L., Gongylodes Group.

Kohlrabi myfavouritepastime.com

The name Kohlrabi from German Kohl’ which means cabbage plus Rube-Rabi-the Swiss German, for turnip, because the swollen stem resembles turnip.

Origin of kohlrabi

Kohlrabi originates in North western Europe, where it was developed from the marrow-stem kale, a fodder crop with thickened stems. Marrow stem kale is also a descendant of the wild cabbage.

Kohlrabi is adapted to temperate climate and is grown in North America, temperate parts of Asia and subtropical Asia (India, China, Northern Vietnam). It’s best grown in spring, fall or in winter in areas where hard freezes don’t occur.

Kohlrabi Stem 

The bulbous stem is mostly light green or sometimes purple, on the outside, but the edible portion is Ivory (off white) in colour. The flesh has a texture similar to that of a broccoli stem, but with a flavour that is sweeter and less vegetal. The young stems are crisp and juicy like an apple but less sweet.

Kohlrabi is rich in vitamin C and fibre, and low in calories. 100g (3.5oz) portion provides 75% of the daily recommended vitamin C and only 27 calories.

Preparation and use of Kholrabi

  1. Kohlrabi bulb is surrounded by two distinct fibrous layers that do not soften well when cooked. These fibrous layers should be peeled with a sharp knife, prior to cooking or serving raw.
  2. The peeling of the thick layers often reduces the edible part, appreciably. After peeling you can chop, slice, grate, julienne or cut into matchsticks depending on the recipe you plan to use.
  3. The leafy greens can be cooked like collard greens or kale. The bulbs can be cooked like root vegetables, or added to soups, risottos and stews.

What size is best for cooking?

In general, younger kohlrabi are more tender, while older kohlrabi tend to be woody.

Spring-grown kohlrabi over 5cm in diameter tend to be woody
Fall-grown kohlrabi over 10cm in diameter, are also woody.

The cultivar ‘Superschmelz’, from Switzerland, produces giant 10-inch diameter bulbs, weighing almost 5kg (10Ib), and remain tender and sweet unlike other giant kohlrabi.

Here is my favourite you-tube video on how to prepare and cook kohlrabi I hope you enjoy watching it!

Other varieties:

There are several varieties commonly available, including ‘White Vienna’, ‘Purple Vienna’, ‘Grand Duke’, Gigante (also known as “Superschmelz”), ‘Purple Danube’, and ‘White Danube’.
Some varieties are grown as feed for cattle

Culinary Use

  1. Kohlrabi is common cuisine in German speaking countries, where it’s frequently used raw in salad or slaws. It’s best cut into matchsticks.
  2. Kohlrabi is also an important part of the Kashmiri diet and one of the most commonly cooked foods. It is prepared with its leaves and served with a light gravy and eaten with rice.
  3. It’s also used in soups and stews or roasted like other root vegetables.
  4. Industrially, it’s made into deep frozen products.

How to Buy Kohlrabi

  1. If you can, buy bulbs that still have their leaves attached. This will give you a better indication of freshness, because the leaves wilt faster than the bulbs.
  2. Buy bulbs that feel heavy for their size and have firm and tight skins.
  3. Kohlrabi is available all year round, peaking in spring

How to store Kohlrabi

  1. You should always remove the leaves from the bulb and store them separately.
  2. The leaves should be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge and used within a few days.
  3. Unpeeled bulbs will last in the fridge crisper for weeks.

Growing Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi should be harvested when young (55–65 days after sowing) as the tuber becomes woody and fibrous with age.

To obtain a tender, sweet product from spring-sown kohlrabi the stem tubers are picked when 5–6cm in diameter;

Autumn-grown kohlrabi are less likely to become fibrous and can be harvested when 10–12 cm in diameter.


  1. Wiki Article on Kohlrabi.
  2. PROTA article on Kohlrabi.
  3. West Coast Seeds.


  1. Kohlrabi Home Fries
  2. Kohlrabi salad with chickpeas 
  3. Kohlrabi and Celery Root Purée 
  4. Kohlrabi & Ham Gratin

myfavouritepastime.com Last Updated: August 19, 2019

Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

9 thoughts

  1. Hi Liz, I have to admit I have never tried kohlrabi, mainly because I did not ever have it as a child, and I did not know how to prepare and serve it. Perhaps now I will give it a go! I once tried purple potatoes. Hated them, way too starchy for me, and…purple, but I did give them a try! I wonder if kohlrabi would be good with a cheese sauce? Only two more days til the weekend again! Have you any special plans? Cheers.

    1. They are close to broccoli especially the stems and can be served with cheese sauce of course. I have only tried purple potato chips. I have never cooked them. Now you make me want to try the potatoes. I don’t see them in my local store here though. Have a lovely week!

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