I think kohlrabi is a misunderstood and underappreciated root vegetable. It’s homely, sure, but under that gnarly-looking exterior is crisp, juicy, and flavorful flesh that puts boring (mainstream) veggies like carrots and potatoes to shame. And it really shines in the probiotic goodness of sauerkraut!
Sauerkraut (or kraut, for short), can be made from many vegetables besides the ubiquitous cabbage; don’t get me wrong, cabbage kraut is wonderful, but it’s the chicken noodle soup of the kraut world – why not go for the borscht, the phở, the menudo? Exactly! Kohlrabi is perfectly-suited to becoming a memorable kraut that will be on fermenters’ list of go-to veggie ferments.
While kohlrabi could probably be shredded by hand, it would be a labor-intensive and probably very frustrating process. These roots are sometimes rock hard, so after peeling off the tough green skin, I shredded them using my stalwart food processor (and, to this day, I can hardly believe that I really didn’t make use of this amazingly helpful kitchen appliance for years after I originally purchased it).
From there, I just followed the basic sauerkraut recipe that I use with green or red cabbage.
One difference I noticed after packing the jars was that the moisture didn’t seep out of the shredded kohlrabi as quickly as it did from the shredded cabbage; to ensure that the veggies stayed under liquid, I just topped up with a bit of extra brine and then weighted the kraut down with a fermentation weight. It was only a couple of days later, after fermentation was active, that I realized there was now too much liquid in one of the jars – and brine all over the tray that I placed the jars on (to catch any overflow). No worries, I just poured a bit off and it was just right.
After a few days, I sampled the kraut – one plain and one with caraway seeds – and was very pleased. Both were becoming nicely tangy, but lacked the bold brassica flavor of cabbage, making them even more versatile as condiments. The caraway seeds also added a pop of herbal flavor that would complement a bologna sandwich perfectly. And, ultimately, both were good enough to just eat straight from the jar.
So, the next time you see the knobby green beauty of kohlrabi beckoning to you from a farmer’s market stand, buy a couple and make kohlrabi kraut. Your gut – and your tastebuds – will thank you!