Getting to Know Knol-Kohl (Kholrabi)

Although kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea gongylodes) looks like no other vegetable you’ve ever seen, it’s actually a variety (breed or race) of the species Brassica oleracea, to which cabbage, kale, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower also belong. All of these Brassica oleracea vegetables are in the Brassicaceae family, along with along with bok choyrapininapa cabbageturnipsmustardwatercressarugularadishes, and horseradish.

Kohlrabi, also known as knol-khol, has been grown since at least the first century AD, when Pliny the Elder mentioned a “Corinthian turnip”, which, from its described growing habits, was almost certainly kohlrabi. Apicius, a Roman cookbook compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD, mentions a similar vegetable. Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 800 A.D., ordered kohlrabi to be grown in the lands under his reign. “Kohlrabi” is a German word; Kohl means cabbage and Rabi means turnip.

Kohlrabi was apparently perfected in northern Europe not long before the 16th century. The “marrow cabbage” from which it was probably bred is a cold-tender, non-heading plant with a thick succulent stem, while kohlrabi is a hardy vegetable developed in a cool climate. The first description of kohlrabi was by a European botanist in 1554. By the end of the 16th century it was known in Germany, England, Italy, Spain, Tripoli, and the eastern Mediterranean.

Kohlrabi was an important staple of the diet in Northern India in the 17th century. It is said to have been first grown on a field scale in Ireland in 1734, in England in 1837. In the United States, records of its use go back to 1806. More recently, it’s been found in the cuisines of Israel, China, and Africa.

Kohlrabi is a rich source of vitamin C; it provides 62 milligrams per 100 grams, or about 102% of  your daily value (DV). It’s an excellent source of coppervitamin B6fiber, and potassium. It’s a good source of phosphorusmanganesecarbohydratesiron, and magnesium. It contains good amounts of folatethiamineproteinpantothenic acidniacincalcium, and riboflavin. Mildly sweet, succulent kohlrabi is has only 27 Calories per 100 grams, a negligible amount of fat, and zero cholesterol. Kohlrabi, like other members of the Brassica family, contains health-promoting phytochemicals such as isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol that protect against prostate and colon cancers. In addition, its cream-colored flesh contains small amounts of vitamin A and carotenes. Kohlrabi leaves or tops, like turnip greens, are also very nutritious greens abundant in carotenes, vitamin A, vitamin K, minerals, and the B-complex group of vitamins.

Nutrients in 100 grams of Kohlrabi

Nutrient

Value

DV

vitamin C 62 mg

102%

copper 0.129 mg

14%

vitamin B6 0.15 mg

11.5%

fiber 3.6 g

10%

potassium 350 mg

7%

phosphorus 46 mg

6.5%

manganese 0.139 mg

6%

carbohydrates 6.2 g

5%

iron 0.4 mg

5%

magnesium 19 mg

5%

folate 16 µg

4%

thiamine 0.05 mg

4%

protein 1.7 g

3%

pantothenic acid 0.165 mg

3%

niacin 0.4 mg

2.5%

calcium 24 mg

2.5%

Calories 27

1.5%

riboflavin 0.02 mg

1.5%

vitamin A 36 IU

1%

sodium 20 mg

1%

selenium 0.7 µg

1%

fat 0.1 g

<1%

vitamin K 0.1 µg

<1%

zinc 0.03 mg

<1%

cholesterol 0 mg

0%

There are two main varieties of kholrabi, white and purple; however, internally, both the “white” (actually light green color) as well as purple types have similar cream-yellow color edible flesh. Some of the popular cultivars of kohlrabi grown worldwide are White Vienna, White Danube, Purple Vienna, and Grand Duke. Kohlrabi has a similar taste and texture as that of a broccoli stem or cabbage, but milder and sweeter.

The younger stems have crispy, pleasant taste and rich flavor. Tender, young kohlrabi is delicious eaten raw. Kohlrabi stems should be washed thoroughly in clean running water. You can swish them in salt water for about 10-15 minutes in order to remove any surface soil, dirt, and any pesticide residues. Peel the outer skin, then slice, dice, or grate, and add to salads. Use it on raw vegetable platters or serve it with a dip. Grated kohlrabi can be added to slaw, but lightly salt it first, let stand for several minutes, and then squeeze it to remove any excess water before adding dressing. Kohlrabi can also be steamed or boiled. Just before cooking, remove any leaves and trim the stem ends. Peel the skin using paring knife. Alternatively, you can steam or boil unpeeled bulbs until tender, then peel the skin, and season with salt, pepper, and brewer’s yeast.

Kohrabi mixes well with other vegetables and greens in a variety of recipes. The peeled stem, cut into slices or cubes, can be mixed with other vegetables like potatoes, onion, garlic, and tomatoes in soup or stew.


This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this blog to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

10 thoughts on “Getting to Know Knol-Kohl (Kholrabi)

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