Holy Kohlrabi! There is a strange new vegetable in your box this week and I hope you’ll enjoy it: kohlrabi. More on how to use it below, but this is the spaceship-looking creature with collard-like leaves. It is a “cole crop” just like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts and cabbage, of the species brassica oleracea. All of these crops have been selectively bred over hundreds of years for a specific trait or growing pattern – broccoli for its small florets (the buds of a flower that haven’t quite flowered), cabbage for its bunching of leaves into the cabbage- ball, kale and collards for their leaves… and kohlrabi for its enlarged stem.
We grow a couple of varieties of kohlrabi here at the farm- a white one and a purple one. Both are white underneath the skin and share a similar taste with the other cole crops. They like full sun, moderate temperatures, maybe even a little bit of cold, and plenty of organic matter in the soil; it’s a heavy feeder. They’ve been grown by northern Europeans for centuries (Kohl is German for “cabbage” and Rube/Rabi is a Swiss German word for “turnip”), but they are also used in cuisines in parts of India.
Kohlrabi is wicked healthy, with carotenoids, vitamins C and A, calcium, iron, magnesium, and fiber; and also glucosinolates, which have been shown to be anticarcinogenic. It is more common to see it in the Midwest, where people grow it in their garden, often to complement potatoes – easier, quicker to grow, it is regularly cultivated to be quite large for winter storage. This time of year we harvest them younger and more tender – try it raw (as it gets larger, the skin gets tougher, try shaving it off), grated in a slaw, roasted or as part of a stir fry, even wrapped in foil and grilled. And a secret use: add it to mashed potatoes. If you want to put off trying it, kohlrabi can be sliced, blanched, and frozen. But don’t be afraid, try it now.
You may be taking home many vegetables you have never really used before, and I know that it can be a challenge to figure out how to use them. You may also be seeing more veggies than you’re used to eating in a week, too. While we don’t want to overload you with vegetables in a given week, we do hope you see this as a good problem, a chance to integrate more vegetables into your diet! It’s also a chance to begin putting some food up for later use.
Take basil. It often comes in large bunches, and if we’re eating locally, then we’re eating seasonally, so fresh basil only comes in the summer. What to do – pesto every week? Gai Pad Gapow every night?
Well, yes, but many vegetables – and meals – can be put up for later use. I know Trader Joe’s is easy (and admittedly, pretty tasty), but for real bona fide summer-in-winter, you can make pesto now and freeze it in an ice cube tray. I think storing the abundance of summer is part of this endeavor, too. More on this in future weeks.
Anyway, let us know what you’re doing with your shares. I’ve been enjoying Bonnie’s recipes with the veggies I take home myself, and I also have
a couple of standby uses – first to cut them up and make a mishmash (don’t tell Bonnie) to put over rice or quinoa; and also to make stews or sauces. I’m eager to try juicing soon, too – I’ve heard good things about juicing from many of you.