Kohlrabi (Lactuca sativa) is a small annual or biennial herbaceous perennial native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It grows up to 1 m tall with thin stalks 2–3 cm long. The leaves are opposite, oblong-obtuse and smooth, 4–7 mm long and 0.5–1 mm wide at the base; they have five pointed teeth set in the middle of each tooth. They are greenish yellow at first, turning brownish orange and finally becoming black. The flowers are white or pale pink, 5–8 mm across, with three petals and a short sepals. The fruit is a seed capsule which contains the seeds.
The name “kohlrabi” comes from the Greek word kolros meaning “to turn over”. It was named after the village of Kohlrausch in Germany where it originated. It is cultivated worldwide for its edible leaves and roots.
Kohlrabi is used as a vegetable in salads, soups, sauces and sandwiches. Its juice can be used as a flavoring agent in beverages such as wine or beer. Kohlrabi juice is also considered to be good for health because it helps prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus.
In the United States, kohlrabi has been grown commercially since 1879. In the United Kingdom, it was traditionally grown in kitchen gardens. It can be found at farmers’ markets and farm stands in the region. In Germany, it is often eaten raw in a mixed salad along with other raw vegetables like red onion, radishes and croutons.
It can also be eaten cooked, especially the larger spheres, which have a mild and creamy flavour. Cooked, the taste has been described as being similar to that of a baked potato. It is sometimes used as a filling for dumplings.
The leaves and stems are also edible. They can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked like spinach.
Kohlrabies should be harvested before they grow larger than a baseball. If you allow them to grow any bigger they become woody and inedible. Pick the younger ones when they are smaller than a softball, and harvest the larger ones when they are baseball size. You can keep them in the ground until you need them as long as you mulch heavily, and keep the mature ones out of direct sun to prevent them from going woody.
Harvesting kohlrabi: You can harvest the outside leaves, stalks and roots throughout the growing season. You can leave a few leaves on the plant so that it will continue to grow. It is ready to be harvested when it is about 2 inches in diameter. If you are going to store it for a long time you should keep the kohlrabi in the refrigerator, but leave it out at room temperature for a couple of hours before you plan on using it since it tastes better if it is slightly warm.
When plants are smaller they are more tender than when they are larger.
One of the greatest factors when it comes to eating healthy is being able to afford to eat healthy. All of the greens on this list are very affordable, and most of the greens listed range between .25c and $1 per pound at most grocery stores. If you grow your own greens, they can be incredibly cheap.
Leafy greens are also incredibly easy to grow. Most greens can be grown in small areas, such as on a rooftop or even in a large pot.
Kale (pictured above) is the king of minerals, being especially rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and iron. It also contains good amounts of protein and fiber.
Kale is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It should play a major role in everyone’s diet.
“Eat the weeds that the animals refuse.”-Italian Proverb
6. Collard Greens
Collard greens are a wonderful vegetable that is often overlooked. They have a strong taste that takes a little getting used to, but most people find themselves craving them once they have got used to the taste. Both the stems and leaves can be eaten, and they are extremely high in nutrients.
At the New Amsterdam market in 1659, Captain John Smith was treated to “a dish of greens” for dinner. These would have been collard greens, which are native to the New World and were likely one of the first green vegetables to be eaten here. The Indians taught the Colonists how to grow them, and they soon became a staple of the Southern diet.
Today, collards are still popular in the South, although they aren’t quite as common as they once were. This is likely because collard greens have many health benefits, and can be used in many different meals.
Collard greens are extremely high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber. They are good for your vision and help to prevent cancer. They also contain betalains, which increase the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals from food.
Betalains can actually turn the skin red, which is why some people experience a red tint to their urine after eating beets. This is a sign that the beets are working!
Collard greens also contain sulforaphane, which activates anti-cancer genes and helps you to detox harmful chemicals from your body.
Sulforaphane can increase and stabilize the effectiveness of many common cancer treatments. It can also prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells, and even prevent tumors from forming in the first place.
You can find collard greens all year round in most grocery stores. They are especially popular around the winter holidays, since many people use them to make rolls similar to lasagna.
Most grocery stores sell them for under $2 per pound.
Collard greens can be stored for up to two weeks if kept in the refrigerator and away from strong odors. Keep them in a plastic bag, since any excess air can make them spoil faster.
Collard greens can be eaten on their own, but they are most popularly used to make “soul food.” This is a type of cooking that originated in the Southern United States during the Civil War.
Soul food typically consists of meals high in fat and carbohydrates, such as pork ribs, yams, corn bread and macaroni and cheese. Collard greens are often cooked with salt pork or other types of smoked pork, onions and potatoes. They can also be cooked with other vegetables or even by themselves.
Collard greens are often boiled very slowly for as long as three to four hours. They can also be cooked quickly in a frying pan without much water, which preserves their vivid color.
They pair well with smoked meats and cheeses, garlic, ginger, vinegar-based foods, chili pepper, tomatoes and potatoes.
Ideas for Cooking:
You can cook collard greens with black eyed peas and browned sausage for a traditional Southern New Year’s dish.
To make fried collard green recipes, slice the leaves thinly, dip them in cornmeal and quickly fry them in hot oil.
If you prefer them steamed, try them with smoked turkey and a side of cornbread dressing.
For a change of pace, add some to your sandwich instead of lettuce or other vegetables.
1. Put the greens in a pan, add water to cover and simmer uncovered until wilted.
Add more water if necessary.
3. Heat the bacon grease or oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent, but not browned.
4. Add the greens back in and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook, uncovered, until most of the moisture is gone.
6. Stir in the cider vinegar and serve.
Sources & references used in this article:
The significance of root development of spinach and kohlrabi for N fertilization by M Schenk, B Heins, B Steingrobe – Plant and Soil, 1991 – Springer
The effect of maturity stage on nutritional value of leek, zucchini and kohlrabi by A Biesiada, E Kołota… – Vegetable Crops …, 2007 – content.sciendo.com
Digestate from biogas plants is an attractive alternative to mineral fertilisation of kohlrabi by T Losak, J Hlusek, A Zatloukalova, L Musilova… – Journal of Sustainable …, 2014 – hrcak.srce.hr
Digestate is equal or a better alternative to mineral fertilization of kohlrabi by T Lošák, L Musilová, A Zatloukalová… – Acta Universitatis …, 2013 – acta.mendelu.cz
Yield and external quality of kohlrabi as affected by soil mineral nitrogen residue at harvest by M Fink – The Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 2001 – Taylor & Francis
Effects of ammonium depot (CULTAN) fertilisation on plant and soil nitrate content and metabolism of kohlrabi plants by M Blanke, W Bacher – … Problems Associated with Nitrogen Fertilisation of …, 1999 – actahort.org
Effect of flat covers and plant density on yielding and quality of kohlrabi by A Biesiada – Journal of Elementology, 2008 – agro.icm.edu.pl
Nitrate contents of kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea L. var. Gongylodes Lam.) as influenced by fertilization by F Venter, PD Fritz – Qualitas Plantarum, 1979 – Springer