I know this might sound silly, but the question “is kohlrabi a root vegetable?” is actually a very good question since it looks like a lot like turnip, radish, celeriac, rutabaga, and many more others. Still, you will find out that they are not quite the same thing.
I was very curious when I had the chance to cook kohlrabi for the first time, so I can guess that there are many other people who need to clarify this confusion.
Is kohlrabi a root vegetable?
Kohlrabi is not a root vegetable. It is part of the Brassicaceae family that includes cauliflower, cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and many other plants.
Kohlrabi bulb grows above the ground, and also this is the part that is used the most. Do not confuse the stems of the leaves (greens) for roots.
What is a root vegetable?
Root vegetables are plants that grow underground, they can have outside leaves, but it is not the part that they are grown for. Here are some examples of root vegetables: onions, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnip, etc.
You can see that many of them look like kohlrabi, but the main difference is where the edible part grows. Root vegetables grow their edible part underground, and the leaves are only secondary in the kitchen. Kohlrabi grows above ground, like cabbage and cauliflower. We don’t eat kohlrabi roots as they are very fine and offer no nutritional value.
Is kohlrabi a stem vegetable?
Yes, kohlrabi is a stem vegetable since the stem is safe to cook and eat. A stem vegetable is a plant with an edible stem. It has been bred specifically for its stem, and the stem now grows much larger than you could ever find it in the wild. This is one of the man-made vegetables out there.
In this category, we can find kohlrabi, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and so on. The key differences between stem and root veggies are that:
- root veggies tend to have less starch than stem veggies
- stem veggies tend to have more glucose (sweeter)
- root veggies have no other roots, while stem veggies have very thin, fine roots
These are things to remember when deciding what to cook, and how to tell two vegetables apart quickly.
What part of kohlrabi is edible?
Kohlrabi bulb is the part that most people eat or use in cooking. Yes, some people eat it raw, and it is totally edible and it tastes a bit like cabbage core. A little spicy, a little sweet, crunchy like an apple, with an overarching cabbage-broccoli taste to it. I think raw kohlrabi is not the best thing I have had in my life. It’s much better cooked.
Leaves are also edible, and there are a few things you can do with them. For example, you can roughly cop them and add them to a salad, or sautee them in a hot pan and add as a side dish. Or, you can add them to a soup for some extra greens.
Kohlrabi skin is edible when young, but it is not recommended to eat if kohlrabi is mature. I would suggest not eating it anyway because it is hard to know precisely when it is good or not, so it’s better to be on the safe side. Also, if it is store-bought, it may be treated with pesticides or other things that must be washed well before eating the plant.
How can you use kohlrabi ?
-Eaten Raw. As I said before, you can eat raw kohlrabi since it is edible. I don’t like the taste that much, but that’s just me. Many people like its taste and crunchy texture.
-Steam it. You can make a nice plate of mixed steamed vegetables, including kohlrabi, with them. This way, you will get the most nutrients from it besides eating it raw. I recommend you either cut it into very small pieces or have some patience, since kohlrabi takes a while to soften, much more than a potato would.
-Mashed kohlrabi. You can boil kohlrabi and then mash it into an excellent side dish, or you can mix it with some cauliflower, green peas, potatoes, or whatever vegetable you want if it is mashable.
-Sauteed Kohlrabi. You can sautee kohlrabi with onion and cream for a great recipe that will impress your friends. Here you can find a recipe for that.
-Roasted or fried kohlrabi. Those are some easy ways to cook kohlrabi and get the best taste out of it. Peel the kohlrabi, then cut it into wedges or sticks, just like fries. Toss in a bit of oil, add them to a sheet pan, and pop them in the oven until they turn crispy.
This way, you can get great-tasting kohlrabi with a crisp exterior similar to French fries or wedge potatoes.
How to choose good kohlrabi
When choosing kohlrabi from the market, you should be careful if there are any yellow or white spots on the leaves if those are still attached. The leaves should have a nice green color.
Also, the bulb itself should be firm and heavy and without any cracks on it. Kohlrabi stays fresh for quite a few days, so it should be very firm, like an apple, when you pick it up.
Preferably choose smaller bulbs since they tend to be younger and have a better flavor and a firmer texture. And usually, those are the ones that have edible skin as well.
Kohlrabi is not a root vegetable, even if the stem of its leaves may be confusing. This is a stem vegetable, and it’s definitely something you may want to try at least once. If you’re at least fine with broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus then kohlrabi will also be a a good veggie for you.
I hope after this article, the confusion is not there anymore, and I gave you some good ideas about what kohlrabi is and what to do with it. It is a very nutritious vegetable that can replace potatoes in many recipes.