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Kohl Rabi

If you have been vegetable gardening for many years, it can become a little routine planting the same veggies season after season. This year my vegetable gardens have double in size, so I am venturing in to growing some of the vegetables that I haven’t bother with before.

My latest success and now my favourite vegetable is Kohl Rabi. It of course has been around for hundreds of years and is a staple in many diets especially through Europe. “Kohl” is German for cabbage and “Rabi” means turnip – hence its flavour description as a combination of a cabbage and a turnip, although considered by many as sweeter and superior to both.

Made popular throughout Britain and America during WW2, it was planted in many victory gardens as it proved easy and quick to grow and that has certainly been my experience of it. New Zealand farmers during the late 1800’s, used it primarily as a food crop and as it didn’t impart any flavour to the milk it was a great feed for dairy cows. Both the leaves and the bulb are eaten and are a source of Calcium, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Vitamin C and B6. It is often referred to a root vegetable but in fact the bulbous part of the plant, which grows above ground, is actually an enlarge stem. This was a time saving factor for farmers, as there was no need to cultivate, cows could feed straight off the ground.

It doesn’t seem to suffer from any blight that the traditional turnips or swede can get and is happy in most soil types. It is primarily a cool weather crop favouring the same conditions as the Brassica family. I have grown two crops one in early summer but it went straight to seed, probably due to the humidity. The second crop I planted in late summer just as the nights were getting a little cooler and it was a stunner. I gave it plenty of sun and as my vegetable gardens are raised it drains well, which they need. Enriched the soil with compost and I dug a little lime through the soil to sweeten it up. Harvest at around 5-6 cm about the size or about the size of a tennis ball, approx. 10 weeks left to get any bigger they become tough, stringy and the bulb can split. They don’t store like a potatoes or kumara, I keep mine in a plastic bag in the vegetable chiller bin and they keep for weeks.

We stock two varieties in the seed range, green and the purple “Azure Star” in our seedlings range we stick to the more popular green variety.

Use in a stir fry, grate raw in salads, coleslaw, pickles, sauerkraut, vegetable curries or just steamed and served with melted butter. A recipe from the 1940’s suggests that you boil peeled slices for 20 mins, drain, add butter, salt, pepper and returned to the fire to brown – harsh treatment for this tasty vegetable. The internet is full of delicious recipes; there will be one to tempt you.


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