In Shades of Jade Green and Dusky Purple Kohlrabi Makes a Stunning and Tasty Addition to Your Garden
Quick and easy to grow, kohlrabi looks fabulous and tastes delicious, so put it at the top of your list of veggies to raise this summer. If you’ve never tried it before, then you’ll be surprised by its sweet, nutty taste. The plants add both colour and structure with long stems of generous foliage protruding from knobbly orbs: those lovely plump globes sit on top of the soil, so they’re in full, eye-popping view. The most handsome member of the cabbage family, kohlrabi thrives in soil that’s free-draining but still moist. It prefers a sunny spot but will do well in dappled shade and copes in a heatwave. It’s quick to mature so it’s a satisfying veggie to grow.
Sow a few seeds every three to four weeks and you’ll enjoy a regular supply from late-spring until autumn. Sow a few purple kohlrabi at the end of summer, and they’ll last through the first few months of winter long after everything else has succumbed to the cold and frost. Start to harvest the bulbs as soon as they become golf-ball sized. They’re more tender and tasty when they’re small, so don’t let them grow any larger than a tennis ball. If you want to go for maximum impact, though, there is a supersized variety called ‘Superschmelz’, with globes that grow up to a whopping 8kg (£1.85/130 seeds, kingsseeds.com).
Despite its size, it remains crisp and sweet. Keep your eye on the plants for any signs of the leaves being nibbled by caterpillars, which are the usual pests that tend to bother the cabbage family. The good news is they prefer other brassicas to kohlrabi but if you do see any signs of damage, just cover your plants with horticultural fleece. Once you’ve added kohlrabi to your repertoire, you won’t want to be without it.
It’s the star of the summer salad bowl: just trim off the leaf stems and base, peel the swollen stem, then grate or cut it into matchsticks to add a mild and deliciously refreshing crunch that’s similar to a radish. It also transforms home-made slaws. You can cut it into wedges and boil or roast it. You can stir-fry it, or bake it into a creamy gratin. Or keep it simple and steam it to enjoy drizzled with melted butter or olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few grinds of pepper. The leaves can also be added to a salad steamed or thrown into soups and stews, just as you would spinach.
The purple-flushed globes of organic ‘Delicacy Purple’ are pretty to look at as well as having a great taste. Plant them this month and you’ll be able to harvest them June to September. Height 45cm Spread 40cm, £5.95/10, 10-15cm plants, harrodhorticultural.com. For a versatile variety with a crisp texture that can be planted for an autumn harvest as well as a spring-summer one, try ‘Olivia’, Height 40cm Spread 30cm, £2.80/50 seeds, mr-fothergills.co.uk Sow outdoors from March to July and start picking from June to October.
HOW TO GROW
Kohlrabi grows happily in a container and the bold leaves and bulbous stems create a striking look.
YOU WILL NEED A
Deep pot with drainage holes (at least 40cm diameter and 40cm deep) Multi-purpose potting compost such as New Horizon All Veg Compost, £8.99/50L marshalls-seeds.co.uk Kohlrabi seeds such as ‘Vienna Mix’, 99p/280 seeds suttons.co.uk Bag of ﬁne-grade Vermiculite, £2.99/2L amazon.co.uk.
WHAT TO DO 1
Fill the pot with compost and firm down. 2 Use your finger to make 10 shallow holes a couple of centimetres deep and 7cm apart. Put the seeds on a piece of paper and, using a pencil, flick each one into a hole. Cover each seed with a little compost and level the surface. 3 Water in well using the spray attachment of your hose. The compost should be damp but not sodden when you push your finger in. Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out in warm weather. 4 Cover the surface with vermiculite to improve air flow and water retention. Protect with a cloche until the seeds have germinated or if it gets chilly at night.
KOHLRABI, APPLE & ORANGE SALAD WITH TOASTED HAZLENUTS INGREDIENTS
100g hazelnuts 1 tsp fennel seeds 1 orange 1 lemon 2 kohlrabi 2 apples 2 fennel bulbs 1 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper A bunch of watercress Serves 4 .
WHAT TO DO 1
In a dry frying pan, toast the nuts and fennel seeds for 2 minutes, tossing frequently, until golden. Tip onto a plate to cool. 2 Peel and segment the orange and roughly chop. Transfer to a large mixing bowl together with any juice from the chopping board. Zest and juice the lemon into the bowl. 3 Prepare the kohlrabi. If the stems and leaves are still attached, cut them off, then slice the kohlrabi in half, down through its centre. Place the halved kohlrabi cut side down and slice into quarters. Use the tip of your knife to cut at an angle through the core. Discard the tough centre. Stack the slices and use a sharp knife to create evenly-sized matchsticks. Add to the bowl, tossing in the fruit juice until covered. 4 Peel the apple and cut into matchsticks. Remove the outer layer of the fennel and carefully cut out the core. Slice very thinly and add to the bowl, tossing in the juice. 5 Mix the olive oil together with a pinch each of salt and pepper and add to the bowl. Stir well so everything is coated. 6 Divide between four plates and scatter over a handful of watercress, then sprinkle with the toasted hazelnuts and fennel seeds.
KOHLRABI SCHNITZE WITH A YOGURT DIP INGREDIENTS
2 kohlrabi 1 egg, whisked 100ml vegetable oil For the breadcrumb mix 40g fresh breadcrumbs 1 tsp salt 1 tsp paprika 2 tsp pumpkin seeds, crushed (optional) 2 tsp sesame seeds (optional) For the dip 80g Greek yogurt Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped Dash of Dijon mustard 1 tsp red pepper ﬂakes Salt to taste Serves 4.
WHAT TO DO 2
Bring a pan of water to the boil. Peel the kohlrabi and boil whole until a fork pricks the centre easily approx 20-25 minutes. 2 Let the kohlrabi cool then slice into rounds. In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, salt, paprika and seeds, then reserve. 3 Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat. When the kohlrabi is cool enough to handle dip it first in the whisked egg then the breadcrumb mix. Fry until brown and crispy, approximately 2 minutes on each side. 4 Mix together the yogurt, coriander, mustard and red pepper flakes. Season with salt. 5 Let the rounds of kohlrabi cool slightly on paper towels to drain off any excess oil. Serve with the dip on the side.