Carol Stein grows it
I assumed that kohlrabi was a fairly recent introduction to this country, but my 92-year-old dad recalls his father ordering kohlrabi seed from American seed catalogs back in the 1920s.
The word kohlrabi is a combination of the German words for cabbage and turnips, so its not incorrect to refer to this member of the Brassica family as turnip cabbage. Mature kohlrabi bulbs are the size of a turnip, except that they grow above ground like cabbage rather than as a root vegetable.
Kohlrabi seeds sown from now until mid-September will germinate in about five days. (When soil temperatures are below 50 degrees, seeds can take up to 20 days to sprout.) Start kohlrabi seeds in rich, loose soils that are amended with organic manure and compost. Add a well-balanced liquid fertilizer, like compost tea and fish or kelp emulsion, about three weeks after the seeds germinate and at three-week intervals thereafter. Water consistently, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.
Use containers that are 16 to 24 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep.
Kohlrabi comes in both green and purple varieties. White Vienna has large green leaves and bulbs with white interiors. Purple Vienna has lavender leaves and bulbs with light green interiors.
Mixing two colors is intriguing, especially for the kids. Kohlrabis dramatic whorls of collard-sized leaves, which are attached to the central bulb, are unusual-looking and fun to watch grow, making it an attractive addition to gardens and containers.
Like its cabbage and turnip cousins, kohlrabi gains sweetness and a crispier texture after the first frost of autumn. However, you can harvest the bulbs any time after they are as large as a tennis ball or a good-sized turnip.
Debbie Moose cooks it
Whats round, heavy for its size, light green and baffles many cooks? Its kohlrabi.
Its not a vegetable that I grew up seeing in Southern gardens. But the Community Supported Agriculture programthat I belong to had a bumper crop of it earlier this year, so I had to face the kohlrabi.
The flavor is a mildly sweet combination of broccoli and cabbage. The smaller the bulb, the more tender the kohlrabi. Avoid bulbs with soft spots or yellowed leaves.
If youre lucky enough to get kohlrabi with its slightly ruffled leaves still attached and fresh, those are good to eat as well, provided theyre fresh and not wilted The leaves have a cabbage-like flavor, and can be added to stir-frys or anywhere else youd put cooked greens. I found them a little chewy to eat raw, but if you like texture in your salads, try it.
Kohlrabi bulbs can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. When youre ready to use them, take the time to peel the outer skin from the bulbs. Its a little tough, and youll regret skipping this step. Use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife.
Raw kohlrabi is a nice addition to salads or crudite platters, and it adds a cabbage-y crunch to cooked dishes. But you can also pickle it. This recipe does not require heat processing, so it must be stored in the refrigerator and used within about three weeks.
Reach Debbie Moose and Carol Stein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a printable copy of the recipe, click the link: Pickled Kohlrabi and Peppers