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Q: What is kohlrabi?

Q:  What is kohlrabi?  You have it on your newsletter list of vegetables to grow in October but I have never heard of it.

A:  I have attached a publication from the University of Florida but the most in-depth information I could find came from Texan A&M.  The work Kohlrabi is actually a combination of two German words, Kohl meaning cabbage and Rabi meaning turnip.  This plant, along with Brussels sprouts, has been developed from wild cabbage.  Kohlrabi is a biennial-meaning it requires two growing seasons, with a cool rest period (wintertime) between, in order to produce seed.

Kohlrabi is an enlargement of the above ground stem which was discovered around the 16th century. 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. 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.

The plant is easy to grow, is remarkably productive, and an ideal garden vegetable if one does not make the mistake of planting too much of it. Kohlrabi has a similar to the turnip but milder and sweeter if the vegetable is harvested while it is young.  One cup of kohlrabi raw is about 40 calories and it contains a high amount of vitamin C. It can be eaten raw, stir-fried or added to salads. If left to grow too long it can become bitter and tough.  In Europe, fancy kinds with frilled and deeply cut leaves are sometimes grown for ornament.