How Do You Eat That Vegetable? Kohlrabi.


Kohlrabi Collage

Vegetable Series: When we changed our eating two years ago, I resolved to be afraid of no vegetable. Not knowing how to cut it or cook it was NOT going to keep it out of my cart. For a long time I’ve wanted to do a series of posts on all the different vegetables we have tried and what we do to the poor things. May you, too, vow to try any and all vegetables in your supermarket! Go get ’em, tiger.

So far we’ve hit artichokes, rutabagas, and jicama in “The Vegetable Series,” all vegetables I only learned to make AFTER our family’s big eating change.  Today we’re going to add kohlrabi to the pot.  Kohlrabi takes me back to my high school, big-hair days.  I first (only) ate it at the house of one of my best friends, fresh garden-picked kohlrabi, sliced and eaten raw with a sprinkling of salt, with all her family gathered around the table.  Fun times.  Her mom was a cardiac nurse.  No wonder they ate kohlrabi.  But YOU don’t have to be a cardiac nurse or doctor to know the advantages of kohlrabi!  Uh, uh.

Terry Wahls’, MD reversed her debilitating multiple sclerosis using a vegetable dense (also meats, fruits, and other food components) diet.  One of her “rules” is that sulfur-rich vegetables must be eaten every day, about 3 cups worth.  Kohlrabi counts as a sulfur-rich vegetable, which helps regenerate a necessary pathway for dealing with “toxins”, called the glutathione pathway.  Sulfur-rich vegetables are also important for mitochondrial function, enzyme structure and function, and dealing with heavy metals.

Coal + Rob + Bee = Kohlrabi

Geesh.  Learning to pronounce the names of some of these vegetables requires more effort than learning to eat them.  So to start off, the vegetable called “kohlrabi” is pronounced to my ear like these three words combined:  coal + rob + bee.  Which is different from how I was pronouncing it before this post, a cross between what you get for Christmas if you’re naughty and a Jewish teacher of the Torah:  coal + rabbi.

A wee kohlrabi plant in our garden.  You can just see the bulb forming.  Darn rabbits about ate all the leaves until we sprayed them with red pepper mixed in water and put out cute little flower wind-catchers.

A wee kohlrabi plant in our garden. You can just see the bulb forming. Darn rabbits about ate all the leaves until we sprayed them with red pepper mixed in water and put out cute little flower wind-catchers.

Kohlrabi is a member of the same family as cabbage, Brussels, and cauliflower, the brassica (or cruciferous) family.  In fact, its name is German for cabbage (kohl) and turnip (rabi). (1)  (If you like languages, then think about “cole slaw.”)  Although it looks like a root vegetable (such as beets or carrots), it grows as a bulb above the ground.  I want to point out that cruciferous vegetables may interfere with thyroid hormone and iodine utility, however, some of my reading suggests that if you have enough co-nutrients, like selenium, this may not be a problem.  So hopefully I’ll get a post out about this as I work through the iodine posts.

Good.  Good.  How do you eat them?

Without a doubt, my favorite way to eat kohlrabi is raw.  It tastes like a radish without the spiciness and is every bit as crunchy.  However, like many, many vegetables, you can steam it, roast it, grate it for a slaw, stir-fry it, or throw it in a soup.  Fear should cause no restraint here.

How do you prepare them?

Chop off the greens.  If the greens are still fresh looking, you can sauté or steam them as you would spinach or any other green you like.  (If you’re not sure how to make greens, leave a question in the comments, and I can throw out some ideas.)  If they are not fresh looking, and you want to use them anyhow, then wash them up and toss them in some broth you may be making.  If you want, discard them.  I’ve started composting this year, so my wilted greens go here.  (I even Googled chemtrails a week or two ago.  I am so lost.  No going back now.  Please can I have my aluminum deodorant back yet?  🙂 )

Deeply peel the bulb.  Wash kohlrabi, and then start peeling.  There is a fibrous outer layer that you want to completely remove.  You can see the fibers running along the bulb, so it’s pretty apparent how deep to cut.  I use a paring knife to peel them, rather than a potato peeler, and I hack off the ends because they’re hard to peel.  Once it’s all peeled, slice it up and eat it with some salt.  Or cook it up however you choose.

Kohlrabi keeps well unpeeled in the fridge, although the leaves do not.  I’ve had mine in there before for a week or more (admittedly really a lot more).  The leaves only last a couple of days or so.

Do your kids like it?

Yes.  All three kids (girls aged 10, 8, and 5) liked kohlrabi raw.  My husband, one daughter, and I all liked the kohlrabi roasted.

Recipes ideas and recipes from other sites:

Roasted kohlrabi:  I have made roasted kohlrabi where I chopped the kohlrabi into small cubes, Cut kohlrabi for roastingadded chopped onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil to moisten, spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and roasted at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) until golden brown.  It looked like roasted potatoes, but they were not a bit starchy and had a bit of the cabbage family bite.  Three of us liked it (out of 5), but next time I would mix it with a starchier vegetable like sweet potato or butternut squash for depth of flavor and texture.

Mashed kohlrabi:  Instead of mashing cauliflower or rutabaga, try mashed kohlrabi.  Steam the kohlrabi until fork tender (boiling it may make the mash more soupy).  Place in a small food processor or blender or mash by hand with oil of choice (bacon drippings, butter, or olive oil would be good choices depending on your preferences and tolerances), just a bit of oil at a time until you get the consistency you want.  Add salt and pepper to flavor.  If you’re fancy, add some roasted garlic.  (I am not fancy, but I almost always make the effort to throw some garlic cloves tossed in olive oil to roast in the oven while I’m preparing a mash.  I think the roasted garlic makes “mashes” of any kind taste that much better, especially if you don’t/cant’ use butter and milk.)

Kohlrabi soup:  This uses dairy and flour, but these pesky ingredients can be easily substituted with coconut or almond milk and arrowroot powder for those with intolerances.

Asian Kohlrabi slaw:  Sesame oil and rice wine vinegar are the only flags I see for some folks with intolerances here.  If you tolerate those, this slaw looks perfect!

Kohlrabi curry:  We make curry like this a lot, but I’ve never used kohlrabi.  Next time I have some sitting around, I’ll not hesitate to throw it in the skillet.


If you’re proud that you or your family has tried a new vegetable, even if it’s not “exotic” or “out there,” leave a comment.  I’d LOVE to hear about it!  Broadening the taste buds certainly seems to help when it comes to “healthy eating.”  And look around you.  Listen to those around you.  Perhaps even look at yourself.  Humanity and society cannot afford to continue down the horrific nutritional path that is now common practice.  Processed foods HAVE to go.  Work on it.  If you don’t try, it will NEVER happen.  And trying isn’t just serving it once, and saying, “They didn’t like it.  They won’t eat it.”  That is NOT how you learned to ride a bike.


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40 thoughts on “How Do You Eat That Vegetable? Kohlrabi.

  1. FitMomPam

    I love this series! I’ve also been trying to diversify my kids taste buds to new vegetables. We just tried artichokes (fresh) a few weeks ago. My daughter thought they were amazing and my son liked them but wasn’t thrilled. I think I’ll give kohlrabi a try now! Keep you posted!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Funny how one veggie suits one kid and not another! At least your son gave artichokes a go! I have a med school friend “making the change” and she discovered that one kid adores asparagus, the others not so much. But she was still happy to discover that! I think raw kohlrabi is pretty agreeable…good luck! And thanks for commenting!

  2. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist

    I love this idea! Our family used to get one of those veggie boxes and cook whatever came in it. Nothing too exotic, as I recall… but those spinach-alternative greens are the ones that get me (rather: my family). I’ll take up your offer to share tried and true kid-friendly spinach-type recipes for sure!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      (Laugh.) That’s actually what got the kohlrabi posted–was one of those boxes! My sister gets a CSA box and texted me asking, “What do you do with kohlrabi?” Maybe I can do a post on greens, but in the meantime, here are various ways I get greens in my kids. Spinach just put raw on their plates is always a hit (show them a Popeye cartoon a few times) first. Roasted kale chips with salt/pepper/garlic powder/onion powder. Beet greens (Crazy they like those! Who would have ever known? Spinach, kale, and chard they don’t like so much this way but always worth several tries!) wilted with bacon dressing (bacon drippings sauteed with onions, then apple cider vinegar and honey added and cooked till reduced a bit.) A fresh green salad mixed with lettuce and some other nutrient dense green like spinach, chard or kale and topped traditionally. A lasagna made with spinach rather than noodles (they love this as long as I bake it long enough so it’s not “soupy.”). Okay I’ll stop now. Sorry. 🙂 I’ll keep watching how they like spinach!

      1. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist

        Alright I’m taking notes. The raw hasn’t worked yet. Maybe more Popeye. The chips I’ve heard of but never seem to get around to. Bacon dressing sounds worth a try, especially with honey etc. The lasagne I’ve tried and some of it goes in, but you wouldn’t believe how long they spend picking through it trying to get the green stuff out. Lucky they’ll do broccoli!

        A post on leafy greens would be most welcome.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        I tried not to laugh about your children picking through the lasagna to get the green stuff out! They propose a real challenge. 🙂 I’ve started picking friends’ brains now to see how they get their kids to eat greens, too! We’ll work on ’em! Wonderful they eat broccoli! I think it’s just tops!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      It’s one that comes out early since it can grow in cool weather. Maybe it has passed its season down there? Our farmer’s market here in South Dakota has a sign saying they’ll some ready next week. Our supermarket carries it fairly routinely, although not always. It’s good. It’s super crunchy. I ***think*** you’d like…(but hate to say that ’cause you never know!).

      1. Sarah Mae

        Wait a minute–you’re in SD? I have never had kohlrabi (so many foods don’t agree with me… I eat the same few foods every day which I know isn’t great, but I am tired of feeling sick all the time when I branch out). My brother and mom love it, though. I was going to comment and say that here in South Dakota, we pronounce it “caller raw bee” and now I read this! Maybe it’s just my family and friends who pronounce it this way… or maybe it varies by what part of the state you’re in or where your family has come from? I have no idea… I just find this very interesting. 🙂

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Yep, in South Dakota for three years now! (You had to recognize the “yep.” I just needed to add a “You betch-ya’.” 🙂 ) It is a great state, albeit a lot cold and windy! But, I guess, my first exposure to “kohlrabi” pronunciation would have been in Indiana! So my pronunciation is a Hoosier one rather than a SD one! I’ll bet it must be a regional dialect thing! Ha! Ha! It is VERY interesting! I am sorry your diet has to be so narrow. Mine was quite narrow for awhile (I just wanted to scream, pout, and cry), but I think slowly and surely I am getting somewhere, with some ups and downs in between. No two people are alike, but hopefully your food sensitivities will improve, too. For me, it has been very challenging and frustrating. ~~Terri

  3. IrishMum

    I have been pronouncing kohlrabi wrong in my head for years!! Thanks for setting me straight. We don’t often see kohlrabi, but next time I will pick one up to try again. I LOVE roasted garlic, and add it to everything possible 🙂

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I’ve pronounced it wrong for so long, I don’t think I can change it! You don’t see kohlrabi much because you dastardly live in a place where you can wear shorts and a t-shirt in winter. Oh, the pain.

      1. IrishMum

        Here in Melbourne we do get a cold winter. Last night was 40 degrees and today is only 47. Brrrr 🙂 The wind is howling, and I don’t think we will see the sun today 😦

      2. IrishMum

        Rain and gale force winds. We don’t have a fireplace, most house here don’t, though I would love one. The pantry is always stocked 🙂

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  7. Ellen Usseru

    What a great blog!

    I love kohlrabi chunks fermented in brine. I mix in various things i have on hand like carrots, beets, onions, garlic, kelp, dill. The kohlrabi stays nice and crunchy. The kids might like it best with beets and carrots. They make it sweet(ish).

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Ellen, Thank you so much! I am so full of questions on this comment! Do you grow the kohlrabi in your own garden or do you ferment the ones you buy in stores? Do you make your own brine just like you would for sauerkraut? Do you grate the carrot, beets, and kohlrabi or in chunks? How long do you ferment? This sounds like something I would really like to try!

      Have a great week!


      1. Ellen Ussery

        Oh good! Then I am so glad I mentioned it.

        We do grow our own kohlrabi, both in the garden and our greenhouse. The variety we like best so far has a purple skin and is called Kolibri.

        I make my own brine to pour over the chunks. (Usually kraut gives off plenty of liquid so I do not need to make a brine for that because the cabbage makes its own when rubbed with salt.). I use a Pickl-it jar and make a 2 % brine. 19 grams salt and 4 cups water. (Do weigh your salt if you go for this method…a Tablespoon of one kind will weigh out differently from another variety)

        But there are plenty of other options such as

        Or just a mason jar or a crock. but over the years I have found I get more consistent results using an airlock. Maybe because I live in a very old house ? Anyway, the Pickl-it lady says you need an airlock if you want to use a low(ish) salt brine such as the 2%

        I cut everything in to bite sized chunks. I have found grating both carrots and beets to be tricky as they have too much sugar and sometimes get slimy, but with chunks I have no problems. (I have seen many recipes using nothing but grated carrot or grated beets that seem to work just fine for other people. But I just gave upon grating them even though they might be fine if only a small portion of a vegetable melange. Or if the stars and moon align)

        You could do just grated kohlrab by themselves. It might work like kraut and make its own brine. I think i have done that in the past. But now I just make this recipe because it is easy to throw together without getting out the food processor and with only a few kohlrabi on hand as they are ready to harvest. And the crunch of this recipe is so appealing to me. i do however like grated turnips or various radishes such as the large red winter radish

        How long I let it sit out depends on the temperature. Usually 3 days in warm weather and 5 ti 7 in cooler times. Just taste it to see.

        It keeps it the fridge for months.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Hello Ellen!

        We will try this for sure. I have Pickl-It Jars! I think I will prefer the chunks too! I always ferment my sauerkraut for a long time, and I’m always afraid to open the jar and test beforehand. What precautions do I need to take if I break the seal and taste? Just seal them back up like when I put them in the jar? Does checking and tasting seem to introduce spoilage for you? I have always wondered and tried asking, but I don’t think my question was clear enough.

        Your garden must be lovely!


      3. Ellen Ussery

        Yes, I hesitated to open those Pickl-it jars to taste too! But I do it now and have never had a problem. Since I only do it when I think it might be ready, it has been fermenting for a while and if not completely “done” then is pretty close and has established a fair amount of the protective bacteria. I do it very quickly. I have never had spoilage that way.

      4. Varun

        Can you please please help us get some .. I love this vegetable and have tried my luck enough in Manila but cannot find it

      5. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        I read somewhere that sometimes Greek or Turkish grocers may carry them???? I don’t know in what season they’d be there, though. Here, they’re typically a late summer veggie (and we’re just emerging from winter—so they’re pretty far off). I don’t know if seeds would grow there…??? I’m out of my league!!! 🙂 Also, I found this link: to order from on-line. But don’t know if it goes to Manila! The kohlrabi are called kouloumbra.

        The crunchiness is delectable!

  8. Ellen Ussery

    Oh! And maybe I should mention another favorite of mine for fermenting…Okra! I am not sure what all the fibers are in it, but it is mucilaginous and might help your colon issue. It is easy to ferment. Just stuff whole okra pods in a small jar with whatever seasonings you prefer (I do a few garlic cloves and some chile pepper flakes) and 2% brine.

    Both the kohlrabi and the okra are gorgeous in the garden

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi Ellen!

      Thanks! I would never have thought of fermenting okra! I don’t even know if it will grow here in SD! We ate it a bit in SC. It wasn’t “legal” on GAPS/SCD diets, but I’m not on those now and am now taking food on a food-by-food basis.


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