Definition of Kohlrabi

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Kohlrabi gets its name from the German "kohl" for cabbage and the Latin "rapa" for turnip. It looks like a root, but it's actually a tuber and cruciferous (also called Brassica vegetables) like cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli.

What Are Cruciferous Vegetables

"Cruciferous" is the scientific name for a group of vegetables that includes cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, horseradish, kale, collard greens, rutabaga and more. The name is derived from New Latin for "cross-bearing," and refers to the shape of their flowers whose four petals resemble a cross.

Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are high in antioxidants which scientific research has proven may provide protection against certain cancers. Additionally, they are all high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

What Kohlrabi Looks and Tastes Like

The bulbs are about the size of an orange and come in pale green and purple varieties. Young green bulbs have a radish-cucumber flavor and young purple bulbs tend to have a spicier flavor. The leaves, which taste like kale, collards or cabbage, can be steamed, boiled or added to soups. Kohlrabi is available year-round with peak season in June and July.

How to Prepare Kohlrabi

If the leaves are still attached, cut them from the bulbs and refrigerate separately in plastic bags. Kohlrabi bulbs will keep up to a week or more and the leaves will keep for several days.

To prepare, wash the bulbs and cut off the top and bottom and peel, removing any obvious fibers. Grate, cube or thinly slice and eat raw, boiled or steamed, or in soups or stews.

Kohlrabi Is an Eastern European Favorite

Kohlrabi grows in many Eastern European home gardens along with beets, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and cabbage, which do well in a cold climate and can be stored all year long.

Kohlrabi is a prince within the cabbage clan. Its greatest weakness is that it is little known and rarely grown. But cooks who are familiar with kohlrabi prize it for the bulblike stem portion that forms at the soil line, as well as the large, thick leaves that grow from the bulbs.

Its progress West is likely to continue, as Americans expand their palates and their gardens. If you're not a cabbage lover, it's good to know kohlrabi's flavor is milder than either broccoli or cabbage.

Recipes Using Kohlrabi Include

Pronunciation: kohl-RAH-bee

Also Known As: turnip cabbage

Examples: We enjoyed a bowl of creamy kohlrabi soup before we dug into the main course of Hungarian stuffed peppers.