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Kohlrabi or stem turnip is usually grown and eaten for its turnip-shape bulky stem. But aside from the thick stem, kohlrabi also grows several dark green leaves sprouting from the stem. So you may be wondering, can these leaves be eaten? Here is what I found out.
Can you eat kohlrabi leaves? All parts of kohlrabi including the stem and leaves can be eaten as they contain a significant amount of nutrients. Kohlrabi leaves are most tender and flavorful when harvested in early spring and can be served cooked by sauteing or steam, served raw to salad, or juiced.
- How to eat kohlrabi leaves?
- What does kohlrabi leaves taste like?
- What are kohlrabi leaves good for? Nutritional value and health benefits of kohlrabi leaves
- How to handle kohlrabi leaves? Tips for harvesting, preparing, and storage of kohlrabi leaves
- 3 Simple and tasty recipes you can use in cooking kohlrabi leaves
- Related questions:
How to eat kohlrabi leaves?
Kohlrabi belongs to the Brassica family which is related to broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. All of them have pretty much the same texture and taste.
You can enjoy them as you will with spinach, collard greens, beet greens, or turnip greens.
Young leaves of kohlrabi can also be enjoyed like cabbage or kale.
Some experts recommend eating them raw to get the most benefits out of the live enzymes that they contain. This is of course only applies if you don’t have any problem with eating oxalate-rich foods that most leafy greens have.
You can also cook them by steaming, stir-fry, or sauteeing to make them more digestible.
What does kohlrabi leaves taste like?
Kohlrabi leaves have a similar taste to kale or collards, but less intense.
The ones that are harvested in the early spring will have more flavor and tend to be more tender. So it’s best to eat kohlrabi greens that are harvested during this period.
What are kohlrabi leaves good for? Nutritional value and health benefits of kohlrabi leaves
Just like kohlrabi stem or bulb, kohlrabi leaves are highly nutritious.
Most people did not realize their benefits and just throw them away or feed them to animals. This is a huge mistake.
According to Dr. Paul Haider, a master herbalist, kohlrabi greens or leaves are a great superfood and people should not take them for granted.
Kohlrabi leaves also have plenty of vitamins A, B, C, and K, as well as beta carotene, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and trace minerals.
Some of the important trace minerals that kohlrabi leaves have include:
- Copper and iron which are great minerals for anemia
- Potassium that helps regulate our blood pressure and heart contraction
- Magnesium that plays a great role in our body’s immune system
- Zinc that is needed for immune function and proper growth and maintenance
How to handle kohlrabi leaves? Tips for harvesting, preparing, and storage of kohlrabi leaves
Just like all greens in Brassica family, you can handle kohlrabi leaves with the same techniques used in handling kale, Brussel sprouts, and turnip greens.
Harvesting of kohlrabi leaves
To get the most flavored and tender kohlrabi leaves, harvest them in the early spring.
Cut the leaves off of the stem carefully and try to avoid pulling off the leaves as this may injure the kohlrabi stem.
Storage of kohlrabi leaves
Eating recently harvested kohlrabi leaves will give you the best taste.
However, if you are not planning to eat them right away you can store both the kohlrabi leaves and stems in the refrigerator.
If you want to store only the leaves, here’s how you do it.
- Cut off the leafy stalk from the bulb of kohlrabi.
- Wrap them with a damp paper towel then put them in a plastic bag like this one.
- Stored them in the refrigerator where they can stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days.
You can also store the kohlrabi leaves directly inside a sealed ziplock bag like this one. This will keep them fresh for up to a week.
Preparing and choosing kohlrabi leaves for serving
Before using the kohlrabi leaves, make sure they are washed thoroughly.
For serving raw in a salad, it is best to choose leaves that have the smallest size as they are more tender.
On the other hand, leaves that are bigger and firm (which amount to most of the kohlrabi leaves) will be tougher and thicker, you will have a hard time eating them raw.
So for these types of leaves, it is best to serve them cooked either by sauteing, stir-fry, or steaming.
3 Simple and tasty recipes you can use in cooking kohlrabi leaves
Asian-Style Kohlrabi Leaves
(Recipe adapted from Genius Kitchen)
What you will need: Kohlrabi leaves, sesame oil, salt, soy sauce, boiling water
How to prepare them:
Step 1: Wash kohlrabi leaves thoroughly (I usually soak my greens and leafy vegetables in water containing salt for around 3-5 minutes to remove pesticides before rinsing them with clean water)
Tips: The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends washing all vegetables and fruits thoroughly with clean water before eating them to prevent them from getting an infection from bacteria or other disease-causing microorganisms.
Step 2: Blanch leaves in boiling water for about 1 to 3 minutes until they wilted.
Step 3: Drain the leaves well and chop them according to your preference.
Step 4: Garnish them with sprinkles of salt, sesame oil, and a few drops of soy sauce.
Kohlrabi Leaves Chips (Oven-baked)
(Recipe adapted from Leaf to Root)
What you will need: kohlrabi leaves, olive oil or canola oil, salt, and baking paper
How to prepare them:
Step 1: Remove the ribs of leaves and pluck the leaves into pieces
Step 2: Marinate the leaves with a little bit of salt and oil. Make sure that all leaves are covered with a thin film of oil.
Step 3: Line the oven tray with baking paper before placing the marinated leaves on the tray. Make sure each piece is separated and are not sticking to each other.
Step 4: Bake them at 130℃ with circulating air for about 20 minutes.
Tips: The duration of baking time is not absolute as the thickness of each leaf is different and each oven is not created equal. Ideally, check the chips every now and then to see if they have reached crispiness with light brown color and nice roasted aroma.
Kohlrabi Leaves Soup
(Recipe adapted from Mehr Power Auf Dauer)
What you will need: Kohlrabi leaves (chopped), 1 clove of garlic, 2 pinches of thyme, 1 mid-sized potato (chopped), 1L vegetable stock, 2 tbs cream, seasoning to your liking (pepper, salt, dried chili, marjoram, a splash of fresh lemon), cooking oil
How to prepare them:
Step 1: In a large pot, roast the garlic in oil together with 2 pinches of thyme.
Step 2: Add the chopped potato.
Step 3: After a short while, add the chopped kohlrabi leaves. Roast them all together for a few minutes.
Step 4: Add vegetable stock and let them simmer for about 20 minutes. You can add a pinch of marjoram and a little bit of chili pepper if you want to.
Step 5: Blend everything with a hand blender or food processor.
Step 6: Season with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of lemon.
Step 7: Add cream after removing them from heat to get a nice creamy green soup.
Can I juice kohlrabi leaves?
Instead of being trimmed off and discarded, kohlrabi leaves can be juiced to gain a lot of health-promoting nutrients. In fact, kohlrabi greens are one of the top picked vegetables for juicing. Kohlrabi leaves can also be used interchangeably with kale or spinach in juices.