Thursday, June 9

My Favorite Thing to Do with Kohlrabi? Purée it! (Seriously.)

Purple Kohlrabi in the kitchen garden - Farmgirl Fare
Purple kohlrabi in my kitchen garden (kohlrabi purée recipe here)

This is the time of year when, if you're lucky, kohlrabi starts showing up at farmers' markets and in CSA boxes. Wondering what to do with kohlrabi? Here's the short answer: get your hands on as much of it as you can. (Wondering where to find kohlrabi? Local Harvest is a great source for all kinds of locally produced foods.)

Kohlrabi, from the German words kohl (cabbage) and rabi (turnip), is not actually a cabbage or a turnip. Cultivated in Europe since at least the mid 1500's, this cold loving member of the brassica (cabbage) family is low in calories, high in fiber, and a good source of several vitamins and minerals. Although kohlrabi has been grown the U.S. since at least the early 1800's, it still has yet to become very popular.

Sweet and mildly flavored, kohlrabi can be braised, boiled, stuffed, sliced, scalloped, steamed, julienned, roasted, and sautéed. You can grate it into slaw, toss it into salads, slip it into soups and stews, snack on it raw with dip, and stir-fry it. You can even wrap it in foil and grill it.

I've seen recipes where kohlrabi was covered in cream, sautéed with anchovies, stuffed into empanadas, fried into cakes, served with hollandaise sauce, and turned into a cinnamon brunch bake. This vegetable is versatile.

Unfortunately all of these cooks are wasting their time—and their kohlrabi. For in my opinion, the only thing you should ever be doing with kohlrabi is turning it into purée. Trust me.

This simple kohlrabi purée makes use of both the bulbs and the leaves, though if you don't have any kohlrabi leaves, I'm thinking you could probably substitute some kale instead. It's adapted from The New Basics (one of my very favorite cookbooks), and has been one of my most popular recipes since I posted it back in 2007.

Kohlrabi purée, which has a consistency similar to mashed potatoes (and makes a good low carb substitute), isn't very pretty, but this is actually good news because that means you can skip serving it to guests and gobble it all up yourself. I can't stop eating the stuff.

Unfortunately kohlrabi hasn't found its way to rural Missouri, possibly because this cool season vegetable doesn't care for our drastic late winter and early spring temperature fluctuations. I've sown kohlrabi seeds in my kitchen garden many times during the last 17 years, and I've only ended up with a few harvests. You can read more about my experiences growing kohlrabi (with other gardeners chiming in in the comments section) here.

I definitely haven't given up on growing kohlrabi, though. It's the only way I'll be able to make more purée.

Do you have a favorite way to cook or eat kohlrabi? Do you grow kohlrabi in your garden?

©, crunchy in the garden, smooth in the kitchen—and ever hopeful for another bountiful harvest.


  1. Mmm, kohlrabi! We grew it in our Wisconsin garden while I was growing up. It's not so terribly popular out here in the Northeast, but I get my fill when I visit home.

    I have to say, I have never eaten a cooked kohlrabi in my life! The only way we ever ate them was sliced, with a sprinkle of salt. When people ask me what it tastes like, I tell them it's just like peeled raw broccoli stems. Yum!

  2. Thanks for the post. I have been inquiring for a long while what the heck people do with kohlrabi!

  3. Hey, you're half right. We make a cold soup with it by pureeing it in our Vita Mix (which could shred firewood). Anyhow, I think it is also great in slaws. I took a vegan cooking class and the slaw with kohlrabi was a home run.

    All joys,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  4. I had to laugh when I saw this post!! To make a long story short, my husband and I were purchasing quite a few vegetables for our new garden in Kentucky. We were shocked because the broccoli we bought didn't look like broccoli! But we continued to let it grow, since we were just newbie gardeners and figured we didn't know any better. A few months later we had 4 large Kohlrabi plants we had no idea what to do with!

    Thanks! I am a farm girl at heart and counting down the days until I can move and live off the land!

  5. My favorite way is to chop it into small chunks, add a 1/2 cup of water, a few T. of butter and a sprinking of sugar - delicious! I agree - I can't get enough of this stuff! When cooked this way, my husband says it tastes just like sweet corn.

  6. Puree sounds good. I did get rather tired of kohlrabi here. It came in bountiful amounts in my CSA last year.

  7. My dad used to grow kohlrabi in our suburban St. Louis garden. I honestly don't remember how mom fixed it but I remember not hating it, which is more than I can say for some of his garden produce. I'll ask my almost-90-year old dad when I see him next week how he and/or mom fixed kohlrabi and whether he had difficulty growing it. As I recall, it was rather prolific.

  8. Thanks! I'm growing kohlrabi for the first time this year (although mine haven't even started filling out yet). This will help me decide what to do with them!

  9. Never tasted it and we are growing it for the first time. Hopefully we have a glut and we can make this puree.

  10. it's my favorite topping for fish tacos - shredded or cut into matchsticks and tossed with lime juice and cilantro. so good!

  11. I tried growing kohlrabi last year, but the rabbit got to it before it really took off (and this year, its progeny has figured out how to eat THROUGH my fence and munch my attempts at swiss chard grown from the seeds you recommended). But I just got some lovely kohlrabi from my CSA, and I'm excited to try a few things with it!

  12. I've never gotten around to cooking kohlrabi. I just slice it and eat it raw with some buttermilk dressing. Mmmmm!

  13. I've used it with parsnips to make a really great puree. Though, to be honest, my favorite way of serving it is lightly pickled tsukemono style. I normally add a little bit of thinly sliced chile peppers for a spicy kick.

  14. Have you tried growing kohlrabi as a fall crop?

  15. Hi Everybody,
    Thanks for all the fun kohlrabi feedback, and the great serving ideas - just in case somebody isn't as enamored with kohlrabi puree as I am. ;)


    I've tried growing kohlrabi from seed as a fall crop a few times and so far haven't succeeded. We have the opposite weather problem in fall as we do in spring - it stays really hot often through September, so it's too hot for cool crops (for example - lettuce seeds won't even germinate if the soil is above 72 degrees), and then it'll start getting so cold at night (and sometimes during the day) that the plants don't have enough time to mature before winter.

    It can be really frustrating, but I haven't given up, though! I have found that Asian greens do well as fall crops here because they're cold tolerant as well as fairly heat tolerant. You can read about growing Asian greens here.

    And of course, my beloved and extremely heat and cold tolerant Swiss chard grows in the garden year round. Read about how easy it is to grow Swiss chard from seed here.

  16. I discovered your blog about a month ago and have been a frequent guest since then. I am a first-time gardener and have a tiny (18 x 24 foot) garden in Southeastern PA. While looking through seed catalogs last winter, I saw a picture of a vegetable that, to me, looked a lot like an alien spaceship, and I had to have it! It is the only brassica that has grown well for me this year (due to the wild temperature fluctuations this Spring and a barrage of cabbage worms). I started harvesting my bulbs this week. Last night, I julienned some and made a slaw using my tiny cabbage heads, Vidalia onions, apples and dried cranberries and it was really delicious. I will try your suggestion to puree it.


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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