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Kumara »« Kamo Kamo

Kohlrabi

Brassica oleracea, Gongylodes group


Photo courtesy of Horticulture New Zealand

Description

It’s always a bit of a surprise to see kohlrabi. This uncommon vegetable is a pale green bulb that’s topped with several leafy stems. It’s a member of the cabbage family, and often described as tasting like a combination of cabbage and turnip, or a broccoli stem, but milder and sweeter. In fact, its name comes from the German Kohl, for ‘cabbage’, and Rübe, for ‘turnip’.

Kohlrabi is a good source of fibre and potassium, as well as vitamin C and folate.

Choose kohlrabi that’s not too big – look for bulbs about the size of a tennis ball. The skin should be thin and unblemished; avoid any that have soft spots or are looking wrinkled. Store your kohlrabi in the fridge in a plastic bag.

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History

Nobody is quite sure of kohlrabi’s origins, but it’s likely that they’re similar to that of cabbage. Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist, mentions a vegetable called the ‘Corinthian turnip’, which, based on other descriptions, is probably kohlrabi. It was grown in many parts of the Roman Empire, and by 800AD the emperor Charlemagne ordered it to be grown in his gardens, which were in western Germany.

By the 1600s, kohlrabi had been introduced to India, where it still remains a staple crop and in some regions is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables. Outside Europe, it’s a relatively unknown vegetable in the West.

Uses

Kohlrabi can be roasted, baked or boiled. Roasting in a hot oven will take 30-35 minutes. Try adding sliced kohlrabi to a potato bake dish, with white sauce and cheese on the top. For a simpler kohlrabi side dish, slice them, steam until just tender and serve them with butter or a creamy sauce.

It can also be grated raw and added to salads.



Kumara »« Kamo Kamo

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