Kohlrabi: A Gold Mine of Minerals

Kohlrabi: A Gold Mine of Minerals

Americans are discovering what Northern Europeans have known for centuries—the delicacy of the kohlrabi. Its mildly flavored sweet, chestnut-like flavor makes it a wonderful addition to any dinnertable. The kohlrabi bulb is crisp and crunchy when raw, while its nonfibrous pulp takes on a smooth texture when cooked. Its leaves are also edible, raw or cooked. Besides being tasty and versatile, the kohlrabi is economical and, above all, healthy.

Kohlrabi has a root that grows above ground. The bulb is actually a thickened root, usually 3-4 inches in diameter with leaves that grow 15-18-inches long. The stems, called “cords” grow on all sides, encircling the entire vegetable with leaves reaching upward.

Kohlrabi is part of the cabbage family. Not only is it an excellent source of potassium, but it also contains natural enzymes that aid digestion and significant amounts of bone building minerals—calcium, phosphorous and iron. Kohlrabi is chock full of fiber and low in fat. It is nearly a “calorie-free” food, coming in at a whopping 38 calories per cup. And just one cup supplies more than 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin C.

Picking the Best

Supersized kohlrabi almost as big as my toaster!

Kohlrabi is a biennial vegetable —fall crops in abundance now, with spring crops hitting the stands in May. Many markets offer kohlrabi year-round. Select kohlrabies that looks crisp and fresh, avoid those with wilted or yellow leaves. Avoid bulbs that are split or cracked. Some varieties have light green or white skin, some purple, like those in the picture. There are also giant kohlrabi types like the Superschmelz that grows to 8-10-inches in diameter, but remains sweet and tender when cooked and is not woody at all. The seeds of this giant are Swiss in origin, and many farmers and gardeners here are now offering this wonderful variety, summer sown for a fall harvest.

Kohlrabi bulbs of any size store well, provided you trim off the stems and leaves and store in a cool, dark place like a root cellar or in an open plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper. Store unwashed leaves in a paper bag and refrigerate where they will keep for 3-4 days.

Note that both bulbs and leaves freeze well. Simply blanch the bulbs for 5 minutes and the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling water, and then plunge into ice water; drain, then seal in plastic bags and freeze.

Cooking Kohlrabi

     The bulbs of kohlrabi can be used instead of potatoes, turnips or rutabagas, and its leaves can be prepared like any other leafy vegetable, like kale or spinach. One medium-size bulb generally yields one serving. When ready to use, peel and boil or steam a whole bulb in salted water for about 20 to 30 minutes and a sliced or chopped kohlrabi for about 10-15 minutes.  Preparing the kohlrabi leaves is done just like any other green. You may want to eat the stems, or simply tear the leaves away which will reduce cooking time. A sprinkle of sea salt will help leaves retain their nice bright green color when cooking.

Simple recipes for this tasty vegetable abound. Very thinly sliced, fried kohlrabies make tasty chips for dipping. Very small kohlrabi bulbs (about 1-inch in diameter) do not need to be peeled; just grate them and serve raw in a salad, or add to chicken, crab or egg salad. Pickled bulbs make a great side dish, especially in the wintertime. Chop kohlrabi and add to soups, stews and casseroles. Or try serving kohlrabi as a turnover—one of my mother’s favorite dishes growing up.  Just steam whole bulbs for about 10 minutes with a few apple wedges, a pinch of sea salt and ground cloves; wrap in pastry dough and bake for 20-30 minutes and serve. Delicious!


Seasonings that complement kohlrabi especially well are dill, cumin, tarragon, caraway and fennel seeds.



Signature Offering by Annette O. Corona – Freelance Food Writer – All Rights Reserved

Kohlrabi in Orange Butter

Makes 6 servings

A lovely side dish to any main course. Feel free to substitute turnips, rutabagas or Jerusalem artichokes for the kohlrabies in this recipe.


6 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and chopped into even-sized pieces

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons salted butter

1/4-cup orange juice

Grated rind of 1 orange


  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan; stir in the orange juice and rind; keep warm.
  2. Put kohlrabi in a medium-size saucepan along with the sea salt; cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until fork tender; drain.
  3. Put the kohlrabi in a serving dish; drizzle with orange butter and toss gently. Serve immediately.


A garnish of freshly chopped parsley or tarragon is nice scattered over top.



Signature Offering by Annette O. Corona – Freelance Food Writer – All Rights Reserved

Kohlrabi and Hazelnut Gratin

Makes 4 servings

This goes well with a salad of peppery fall greens like arugula, watercress or mustard greens for a quick lunch, or as a side dish accompanying an evening meal.  Walnuts can be substituted for hazelnuts.


4 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cut into even-sized pieces

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon sea salt

½-teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½-cups hazelnuts


  1. Put the kohlrabi in a medium-size saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender.
  2. Preheat the broiler. Drain the kohlrabi, add the butter and mash well; stir in the sour cream, salt and black pepper.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a shallow gratin dish. Crush the hazelnuts with a rolling pin or whizz in a food mill, and scatter them on top of the kohlrabi mixture.
  4. Put the dish under the broiler for 5 minutes or until the hazelnuts are golden brown. Serve immediately.



Signature Offering by Annette O. Corona – Freelance Food Writer – All Rights Reserved

Fruity Kohl-Slaw

Makes 6 servings

Light and delicious, this salad makes a perfect “totable” for a pot luck supper.


6 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and grated

1 cup finely shredded cabbage

1 small red onion, diced

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced

1/3-cup currants or raisins

½-cup seedless grapes, halved

½-teaspoon each: sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼-cup apple cider


  1. Put the kohlrabi, cabbage, onion and apple in a large bowl; sprinkle in the currents, grapes, salt and black pepper, and toss gently.
  2. Lightly drizzle in the oil and apple cider; toss gently, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Toss again before serving.

I wish you all the best and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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