Trying something new - kohlrabi

Kohlrabi, a German word for "cabbage turnip," is a delicious vegetable you've probably never tried.

Cooking is all about experimenting and trying new foods, techniques and recipes. What better way to explore than by experimenting with a more unusual, but certainly delicious, vegetable known as kohlrabi. Though it may sound exotic, kohlrabi is simply German for “cabbage turnip,” a perfect descriptor for this unique vegetable. Having a mixed flavor somewhere between cabbage, turnips and even broccoli, this nutrient packed vegetable can be a great produce addition to your diet.

Kohlrabi is a cool-weather crop which is in season between the early fall to spring months. Use the bulb if you are looking for a turnip-cabbage flavor, while the leaves are a great substitute for collards or other dark leafy greens. When selecting kohlrabi, be sure that the leaves are unblemished and the bulb is about three to four inches in diameter as well as being free from cracks and damage.

Once you get the vegetable home, be sure to store it in the optimum manner. Michigan State University Extension recommends cutting off kohlrabi leaves and wrapping in a damp paper towel and placing them in a plastic bag which can then be stored in the refrigerator for three-to-four days. The bulb can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks, but is best if eaten within one week of purchasing. If storing longer, be sure to freeze. Once you are ready to use the kohlrabi, wash it well as cabbage-like plants are traps for dirt within all of their leaves and crevices. Then, simply peal back the hard outer layer, as well as the fibrous layer that is immediately under. The fibers will not soften when cooked and could potentially be a choking hazard.

Now that you have properly stored and prepped the kohlrabi, what do you do with it? You can eat it raw, with dip, or even use the bulb in coleslaw, like you would cabbage. You can use the leaves like you would dark leafy greens. If you’re ready to step up the cooking, you can make roasted kohlrabi fries, kohlrabi chips and even sautéed kohlrabi with onions and crème which utilizes both the bulb and the leaves. There are a number of possibilities when it comes to cooking with kohlrabi. From simply steaming or grilling, to the recipes listed above, this vitamin C, fiber-packed vegetable is sure to please.

Enjoy Michigan’s harvest this year, and if you have questions about foods, their preservation, or food safety, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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