|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. caulo-rapa). Fig. 2045. As the Latin name indicates, this plant is a member of the cabbage group. This group is interesting from a horticultural standpoint because of the great variety in the parts developed to a condition suitable for human food. The kohlrabi is one of the most peculiar of the lot. It is like a turnip produced on a cabbage root, if that were possible. The flesh of the thickened stem resembles that of a turnip, but when well grown it is more delicate, both in texture and flavor. This interesting plant is deserving of a place in every home-garden as well as in the market-garden. In quality it is superior to all other members of the cabbage group save cauliflower. Kohlrabi is naturally a cool-weather plant. To have it at its best it should be grown during the cool days of either spring or autumn and gathered while still young and tender. The soil for kohlrabi should be a rich loam, well drained so as to be available for early planting. Plants may be started in a hotbed and transplanted to the open the same as early cabbage, or the seed may be sown in the open as soon as the season is far enough advanced to sow radish or cabbage seed safely. The rows should be from 15 to 30 inches apart and the young plants planted or thinned to stand 6 to 8 inches apart in the row. The cultivation that would be given early beets will suffice for the plant. The early, quick-maturing sorts should be chosen for table use. The plants should be harvested as soon as the edible portion can be induced to develop to the size of a baseball. If conditions are such as to retard or delay growth, the product is apt to be tough and strong. Quick growth means quality in this plant.
To prepare kohlrabi for market, cut the stem just above the surface of the ground and tie three to five plants together by their leaves to form a bunch. To prepare it for the table it should be peeled and cut into dice about ½ inch square and cooked the same as cauliflower. Vilmorin says that some of the large, coarse varieties are grown in Europe for stock feed. It is doubtful whether it will ever find favor in this country for this purpose for the reason that in most localities turnips, cabbage, or marrow kale will outyield it.
L. C. Corbett.
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|Cultivar Group members|
|many; see text|
Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea Gongylodes Group) is a low, stout cultivar of the cabbage that will grow almost anywhere. It has been selected for its swollen, nearly spherical, Sputnik-like shape. The name comes from the German Kohl ("cabbage") plus Rabi ("turnip"), because the swollen stem resembles the latter. Kohlrabi has been created by artificial selection for lateral meristem growth; its origin in nature is the same as that of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts: They are all bred from, and the same species as, the wild cabbage plant (Brassica oleracea).
The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet. Except for the Gigante cultivar, spring-grown kohlrabi much over 5 cm in size tend to be woody, as do fall-grown kohlrabi much over perhaps 10 cm in size; the Gigante cultivar can achieve great size while remaining of good eating quality.
Kohlrabi can be eaten raw as well as cooked.
There are several varieties commonly available, including White Vienna, Purple Vienna, Grand Duke, Gigante (also known as "Superschmeltz"), Purple Danube, and White Danube. Coloration of the purple types is superficial: the edible parts are all pale yellow.
Some varieties are grown as feed for cattle.