Kohlrabi, also known as German turnip or cabbage turnip, is very popular in Northern and Eastern European countries like Germany and Hungary as well as northern Vietnam and eastern India. The funny-looking vegetable is part of the same family as broccoli and cabbage and can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of dishes.
Kohlrabi grows as a bulb with leaves shooting up from the sides. It can be white, green, or purple with little difference in flavor.
Despite its name, kohlrabi is not a root vegetable and does not belong to the turnip family. Instead, it belongs to the Brassica genus of plants and is related to cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. It has a long leafy stem and round bulb that’s usually purple, pale green, or white. It’s always white-yellow on the inside. Kohlrabi’s taste and texture are similar to those of broccoli stems and cabbage, although it is slightly sweeter.
When raw, kohlrabi has a flavor similar to raw cabbage with a lightly spicy kick like a radish or turnip. The amount of spice will depend on the size of the bulb, with smaller bulbs having a milder taste and crisper texture. Cooked, it has a subtle flavor and texture similar to broccoli stems. The stems and leaves are also edible, and when cooked, they resemble mild-tasting collard greens or Swiss chard.
One cup of raw kohlrabi provides:
- Calories: 36
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 93% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 12% of the DV
- Potassium: 10% of the DV
- Magnesium: 6% of the DV
- Manganese: 8% of the DV
- Folate: 5% of the DV
Kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that protects your body from free radical damage and plays a role in wound healing, collagen synthesis, iron absorption, and immune health. It is also rich in vitamin B6, which supports immune health, protein metabolism, and red blood cell production.
It’s also a good source of potassium, a mineral and electrolyte that’s important for heart health and fluid balance.
A single cup of kohlrabi provides approximately 17% of your daily fiber needs. Dietary fiber helps support gut health and blood sugar control. It contains both soluble, which maintains healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and insoluble fiber which isn’t broken down in your intestine, helping add bulk to your stool and promoting regular bowel movements.
Fiber is the main fuel source of healthy gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, which nourish the cells of your gut and may protect against heart disease and obesity. A healthy gut microbiome is associated with a healthier immune system and lower risks of obesity and bowel disease.
Kohlrabi contains powerful plant compounds called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which are mainly found in cruciferous vegetables. High glucosinolate intake is linked to a lower risk of heart disease due to this compound’s ability to widen blood vessels and reduce inflammation. Moreover, isothiocyanates have antioxidant properties that may prevent plaque buildup in your arteries.
Kohlrabi is high in vitamin B6, which is important for many functions, including protein metabolism, red blood cell development, and immune function. Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of white blood cells and T-cells, which are types of immune cells that fight foreign substances and are key to a healthy immune system.
How to Buy
Kohlrabi is available year-round, with peak season running from fall through spring. You can find green, white, and purple kohlrabi often sold with the leaves still attached. This ensures that the vegetable is extra fresh, plus the leaves are delicious. When buying whole kohlrabi, choose ones with crisp-looking, vibrant leaves.
Look for kohlrabi that feels heavy and is firm without blemishes or dark spots. Smaller bulbs tend to be sweeter, with large bulbs becoming woody and stringy.
How to Store
Remove the stems and leaves if they are still attached and cook as soon as possible (within the first day or two) since they will wilt quickly. Store all parts of the kohlrabi in the crisper, with the leaves wrapped loosely in a silicone bag and the bulbs left uncovered. The bulb will keep for up to a month in the fridge but use it sooner if you are planning to serve the vegetable raw to ensure a crisp texture.
How to Cook
The bulb, stems, and leaves of kohlrabi are all edible. Trim the brown end before using, and separate the leaves from the bulb for best results. Stems and leaves should be cooked as soon as possible since they will wilt quickly.