Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)

Kohlrabi, a member of the brassicaceae (cabbage) family, looks like a turnip growing above ground with leaves sprouting from its side. It actually is the enlarged portion of the stem. First grown in Europe around 1500 and introduced to America around 1800.

Growing: Plant in full sun, in fertile well drained soil high in organic matter, pH 6.0 – 7.5. Direct sow in garden in early spring. Sow seeds about ¼ inch deep, in rows about 12 inches apart. Thin seedlings to about 6 inches apart (thinnings can be transplanted).

I prefer to start seeds in cell pack and transplant to the garden. (I start my seeds indoors around end of March/early April and transplant to garden around early May).

This year I am experimenting with a fall planting. Started my seeds in cell pack end of June, bumped up into 3-inch pots mid-July, will transplant end of this month when garden space becomes available. Started a 2nd set of seeds on July 23 (I may be a week too late) will see what results I get.

A heavy feeder, kohlrabi requires plentiful consistent moisture for rapid growth and best quality.

There are 2 varieties – white and purple, with maturing dates ranging from 38 – 62 days. Choose a variety best suited for your location and needs. Grows well in container. Its appearance, especially the purple variety, is a show stopper in the ornamental gardens.

For more cultivating information, click here to go to Cornell University Gardening Resources.

Harvesting: Harvest when swollen stem is about 2 – 3 inches in diameter (use this as a guide) or as per package directions.

Cooking: Can be eaten cooked or uncooked. Peel then slice, cube, dice or shred. Leaves, if young and tender, can be cooked like other greens.

Cooked – use alone or combined with other vegetables, with or without meat, poultry or seafood, in stir-fry, soup, stew. Toss with oil, salt and pepper to taste and roast in oven, alone or combined with carrots, potatoes …..

Uncooked – add to salad, use as cabbage substitute in slaw …

Shrimp Kohlrabi & Broccoli Stir-fry

1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and pat dry with clean paper towels (this is an important step) (I only had jumbo shrimp in my freezer so I split each in half, lengthwise) (see how to below)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce or regular (light color) soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon Asia chili sauce or to taste
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Combine all the above well. Can be done the day before and kept refrigerated.

1 – 2 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into about ¼ inch thick bite-sized slices
½ pound broccoli florets cut into smaller florets
Few slices of carrots for color (See below for Making Carrots Flowers)
1 – 2 shallots, peeled and minced
1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
2 – 3 tablespoons oil
½ – ¾ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch combined with 2 tablespoons broth or water. Stir well before adding to wok or frying pan.

1. In a preheated wok or frying pan add 1 tablespoon oil. Add salt, kohlrabi, broccoli and carrots. Stir-fry until broccoli turns a bright green color. Remove to a clean platter.
2. Add remaining oil to wok or frying pan, add shallots and garlic, stir-fry until both are translucent. Add shrimp. Stir fry until shrimp changes color.
3. Add veggies to shrimp and additional broth for gravy. Thicken with cornstarch mixture. Adjust taste. Serve hot over cooked rice or pasta.

How to split shrimp in half lengthwise:
After deveining shrimp, cut along the back (like you are butterflying) all the way through making 2 lengthwise halves. After cooking, the split shrimp curls into a very cute shape and the texture is very nice. When a recipe calls for small or medium shrimp, I prefer to use larger shrimp and split them in half lengthwise, much better taste and texture.

Making Carrot Flowers

You will need:
1 – 2 inches piece of peeled carrot
sharp paring knife
sharp slicing knife

1. Using paring knife, make 5 “V’s” along the length of the carrot (I like 5 petals on my flowers)
2. Still using paring knife, round off the edges of the “V’s” (optional).
3. Using slicing knife, slice carved carrot into desired thickness slices.

Copyright © by Norma Chang All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Robin, The Gardener of Eden, is the host for Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard. Head on over to Thursday’s Kitchen Cupboard to see what others are cooking.

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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46 Responses to Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)

  1. Hotly Spiced says:

    Love the carrot flowers! I’ve never made those. I haven’t ever cooked or eaten kohlrabi before. I’ve seen them recently in the shops but have always walked past because I haven’t known what to do with them. Thanks so much for the information Norma xx

  2. I’ve always been curious about kohlrabi. I think it’s their funny, flying saucer appearance. Now that I’ve seen your beautiful stir fry, I’m eager to try growing them. I wonder if it’s too late to start a few seeds… I love your carrot flowers, too. I’ll have to make some to float in Baki’s soup.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello GC,
      Like your “flying saucer” description. Not knowing anything about your planting dates, I would say, sow a few seeds now and see what happens, there is always next year to try again.

  3. Daphne says:

    That looks delicious. I love kohlrabi. So tasty and very versatile. And it keeps well too.

  4. Holy Toledo, that dish looks de-li-cious!!!!

  5. Eva Taylor says:

    My Mom used to make Kohrabi a lot, it wasn’t a favourite of ours as kids, but I think I would love it now (I love eating the softer stem of the cauliflower). I’ll have to remember to get some next time I make a slaw.
    It must give you an incredible amount of satisfaction growing your own vegetables from seeds, Norma, I have to say I am a wee bit jealous, but not enough to try again (wasted too much time and money over the years). I shall just live vicariously through your wonderful garden successes!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      I am spending way too much time in my gardens, justify it by telling myself our summer is short and winter is long so need to make the most of gardening weather. Looking forward to hearing about the creative ways you use kohlrabi.

  6. I find kohlrabi tastes like a bit like broccoli stems, which I love! It grows sporadically in our garden – some years it’s brilliant, and other years the bases just won’t swell.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Celia,
      Yes, kolrabi does taste a bit like broccoli stems. This is one of my better kohlrabi year. Come to think of it, all my brassicas are doing exceptionally well this year.

  7. I’ve gotten kohlrabi in my CSA box, and had no idea what to do with it or what it tastes like. Does it have a different taste when cooked than it does raw? I see Cecilia says it tastes like broccoli stems…would you agree?

  8. Robin says:

    I just love your carrot flowers Norma! The kohlrabi dish sounds wonderful as all your recipes do. I didn’t plant any this year though.

  9. Kristy says:

    Those are just the cutest carrot flowers! Thanks for the tutorial…the kids will love it!

  10. Eha says:

    You are taking me back to my childhood in Europe: kohlrabi and salsify were the two vegetables I most loved to see on my plate 🙂 ! Here in Australia it is not a vegetable we oft see. But the memories have resurfaced from my hard disc of a brain [?] and i really have to see about growing them myself as spring nears here . . . .

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eha,
      Welcome and thanks for stopping by. I had the opportunity to try salsify but did not like it at all, may be I did not prepare it correctly. How do you prepare it? Kohlrabi is really easy to grow I am sure you will be successful.

  11. Lrong says:

    Have only tried growing this veggie once and was not very successful… we do like their taste though…

  12. Hi Norma, Kohlrabi is such a great vegetable, too bad I can’t grow any Brassica here. I love it raw and in soups, also I make mash kohlrabi, mmmm, good! can’t wait for it to be available in the stores (if ever in our region). Thanks for carrot flower lesson! 🙂

  13. Sophie33 says:

    Your Kohlrabis, the purple one & the normal one are looking quite big & good! A great produce!

    I also love the fact that you learn us how to make those lovely carrot flowers! I am so going to make them as well as your lovely stir -fry!, Norma! 🙂 Yummm!

  14. I have never seen a purple one before…love kohlrabi in salads and soups. Must try your stir-fry next time.

  15. Norma, Olive Herb is a cold hardy, perennial, woody, and the bright green leaves that have an intense olive aroma.
    You can find more information here : http://www.haarsnursery.com.au/olive-herb

  16. Very colorful haul this week!

  17. Karen says:

    I love vegetables but have never had kohlrabi. I must get it a try.

  18. Kohlrabi is totally new to me Norma, I am not even sure if I can find it here but one think I know I can find is carrots and those cute flowers are going on my salad today

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Sawsan,
      If you cannot find kohlrabi, may be you can find the seeds and grow your own, they do well in pots. Would love to see a photo of your salad with my carrot flowers.

  19. Hi Norma,

    I can’t wait to finally try my kohlrabi-fingers crossed for a good crop though I have to say the weather is not being all that kind here in South Wales, UK…

  20. I’ve never shredded kohorabi – what a great idea in your tips. And I love the carrot flowers. A perfect thing to do with my granddaughter!!

  21. Kohlrabi is still on my to-try list, thanks for sharing such a delightful recipe. I have to go find one in my farmer market now 😉

  22. leduesorelle says:

    Our favorite way to prepare kohlrabi is as grilled slices. Nice knife skills with the carrot flower!

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