Kohlrabi is a type cabbage turnip mostly popular in Germany and initially grown there. That’s why many markets call it German turnip as well. It is the same species as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, Savoy cabbage, and gai lan.
These turnips could be eaten both raw and cooked. All the parts of the plant including the stem and the leafs could be used to make at least some dishes. They are grown in Texas and in a few other states across the US.
- It’s been used in the US since 1806.
- The name is a mixture of German words for cabbage and turnip
- The first recorded description of it comes from 1554
It’s best to pick the kohlrabi when it’s in season meaning from mid spring to mid fall. Try to stick with the smaller size plants, about the size of the tennis ball. The smaller vegetables will be sweeter and more tender.
The skin of the plant should be smooth and without noticeable blemishes and that’s a sign that it’s healthy and still fresh. The leafs on the top should appear to be green and still fresh.
Production & Farming in Texas
It’s a cool season vegetable and that means that it should be planted in very early spring and very early in autumn. Seeds are planted about 1/4 inch deep in rows about two feet apart and thinned to four inches apart in the row. The soil needs to be wet and kept so with mulch.
There are a few varieties of this plant that’s currently grown in Texas. These include: Early Purple Vienna, Early White Vienna, Grand Duke, Kolibri, Purple Danube, Winner.
They also require a lot of water and that means that irrigation will be one of your biggest expenses, especially when the weather quickly becomes warmer in spring as it often does in Texas.
It will take up to 85 days to grow the vegetable until it reaches its full maturity. There are a few pests and insects that might affect it and this is why pesticides are wildly used, especially to combat the worms that often attack these cabbages.
When the stems reach the size of 2-3 inches in diameter, kohlrabi is ready to be harvested. That’s why pruning the stems is so important in order to allow the vegetables to space out in all directions.
Kohlrabi has the same diseases as the rest of the family to which it belongs. Therefore, pesticides to control fungi and insects may be applied. The good news is that kohlrabi’s relative obscurity — stateside, at least — means that demand has not reached the point that thousands of acres of farmland as far as the eye can see are monocropped with kohlrabi.
Kohlrabi comes from norther Europe and it was not known at all 500 years ago. In culinary terms this is a relatively new plant and it’s mostly found its place in the cuisine and culture of Germany and Germanic people.
It was brought to the US by the German settlers, somewhere in the 19th century and here it has found its place first in the German cuisine until it has become a part of the American culinary melting pot. It’s grown in Texas and in California most of all.
There’s no need for any kind of special packaging for kohlrabi turnips because their skin is firm enough to be protective on its own. They are mostly sold in handfuls or by piece of by weight. All of this is to say that there’s no need for them to be prepacked in ways that make selling them any easier.
In some cases, they are put into sacks instead of boxes and there’s a slightly bigger chance they will get damaged when treated this way.
There are more than a few ways to eat this turnip. Unlike most other turnips these quite good raw or in a salad and they don’t require that much preparation other than peeling them and seasoning them to your taste with other vegetable.
They are sold for their bulbs but the greens are equally useable and they also have their place in salads or as garnishes to other meals, sandwiches and pastas. All of this is true provided that the leafs are still fresh.
Even though it’s a German turnip, it fits quite well into Indian cuisine where it can replace the ordinary turnip.
The best way to store this vegetable is to remove any leafs from it and to keep the bulb in the cold part of the fridge on its own. Keep it wrapped in a plastic bag and there’s no need to clean or peel it before you store it away. It can be used for more than a week later if stored this way.
It’s very often used in soups and that can be done in two different ways. You can chop it up and use it in a soup as you would any other chunks of vegetables, but you can also make the soup creamier, when you add it to it pureed and when you use other spices to bring out this affect.
Kohlrabi can also be fried on a pan with just a bit of oil. It will caramelize it and the flavor will be milder and sweeter, while the vegetable itself more tender.
Kohlrabi contains a wide array of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, anthocyanins, isothiocyanates, and glucosinolates. These are plant compounds that protect your cells against free radical damage that may otherwise increase your risk of disease.
Diets high in antioxidant-rich vegetables like kohlrabi are associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, metabolic disease, and premature death.
The skin of purple kohlrabi is particularly high anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that gives vegetables and fruit a red, purple, or blue color. High intake of anthocyanins is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and mental decline.
When Are Kohlrabi in Season in Texas?
To find out when Kohlrabi are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.