Harvesting kohlrabi may sound intimidating, but it’s actually very easy. In this post, I’ll show how to tell when they are ready, the best way to pick them, and even give you tips for using and storing your garden fresh kohlrabi harvest.
But, since they don’t change colors or ripen when they’re ready, it’s hard to know when the best time is to pick them.
It is very important to get the timing right though. Otherwise they won’t taste very good, and could even crack or become inedible if left in the garden too long.
Below, you’ll find out how to tell exactly when kohlrabi is ready to be picked, and learn the steps for harvesting it.
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed guide…
What Part Of Kohlrabi Do You Harvest?
The part of kohlrabi to harvest is the wide, swollen portion of the stem that forms just above the surface of the soil.
Some people call this a bulb, because it looks just like one sitting on top of the soil. But, it is technically called a swollen stem, rather than a bulb.
The swollen stem isn’t the only edible part of the plant though. You can also eat the greens or leaves that form on top.
When To Harvest Kohlrabi
The best time to harvest kohlrabi is when the swollen part of the stem reaches 2-3 inches in diameter. That is about the size of a tennis ball, and usually happens between 50-70 days after planting.
Don’t wait until they’re really large, bigger is not better here. If you allow them to get huge, they’ll be tough and grainy, won’t taste as good, and will eventually become inedible.
So for the best flavor and texture, make sure to get to them while they’re still small.
How To Tell When It’s Ready To Pick
Since kohlrabi doesn’t change color or ripen, the only way to tell when it’s ready to harvest is by the size of the swollen part of the stem.
The ideal size for the best texture and flavor is between 2-3 inches in diameter.
How To Harvest Kohlrabi
How you harvest kohlrabi depends on which part of the plant you are going to eat. There are two parts that are edible – the rounded stem and the leaves.
Below I will talk in detail about how to harvest both the stem as well as the leaves.
Picking The Leaves
You can harvest kohlrabi leaves at any time. Simply pluck them off with your fingers, or cut them with a sharp pair of precision pruners.
The smaller they are, the more tender and flavorful they will be. Don’t remove all of the leaves though, keep some on the plant so they can produce enough energy to create a nice enlarged stem.
Healthy, tender leaves can be saved and used for cooking. You can add these greens to your recipes just as you would kale or collards.
Harvesting Kohlrabi Stems
The steps for harvesting kohlrabi stems are pretty straightforward. There are basically two ways to do it: pull the whole plant, or cut them off at base of the stem.
How you do it depends on whether you want to allow the plant to flower and set seed or not.
To make it easy, simply pull the whole thing out of the ground, roots and all. Then cut off the narrowest part of the stem, the roots, and the leaves before using or storing it.
Otherwise, if you want to keep the base of the plant in the ground to continue growing, don’t pull them out. Instead cut the skinniest part of the stem right below where it starts to widen, and just above the soil line.
The stems not very thick but are pretty tough. So make sure to use a sharp and heavier duty garden shears to cut them.
The only reason to leave the remaining stem in the ground is if you want to save the seeds. Otherwise, it will not go on to produce another crop.
How Many Kohlrabi Do You Get Per Plant?
You will get only one kohlrabi per plant. Yes, I know that hardly seems worth it. But they mature very quickly, and are frost tolerant. So they’re great for succession planting.
I like to plant my first crop in early spring. Then I start my second a month or so later. This way, I can enjoy multiple kohlrabi harvests throughout the entire gardening season.
What To Do With Fresh Kohlrabi
You can enjoy garden fresh kohlrabi either raw or cooked. Either way, the thick outer skin needs to be removed before you can eat it. I find it easiest to slice it off with a knife.
My favorite ways to use it is to roast it, just like I do with my other root crops. It has a texture that resembles potatoes once cooked. So you could also use it in stews and soups, or any other similar recipe.
I also like to slice or shred it while it’s raw, and then add it to my chopped salads, or fry it up with my eggs. But you could just slice it and eat it raw, or add some to your veggie tray.
When eaten raw, it has a lovely buttery, slightly sweet, nutty, but very mild flavor. Yum!
FAQs About Harvesting Kohlrabi
Here are a few questions that always come up when I talk about harvesting kohlrabi. If you don’t see yours answered here, ask it in the comments section below.
Will kohlrabi grow back after harvesting?
Yes, a kohlrabi plant will grow back after harvesting if you leave the bottom part of the stem in the ground.
However, it is technically a biannual. That means, it will flower and set seed the second year, rather than producing another edible stem.
Can kohlrabi get too big?
Yes, kohlrabi can get too big if you don’t pull it at the right time. The ideal size for the best texture and taste is 2-3 inches in diameter.
If it gets much larger than that, it will become too tough to eat, and the flavor will be less desirable.
How do you store kohlrabi after harvesting?
Kohlrabi has a pretty long shelf-life after you harvest it. If you store it correctly, it will last up to 3 weeks.
The best way to keep it fresh the longest is to put it in a sealed, perforated bag in the refrigerator.
Place it in the crisper drawer, if you have one. If you keep it cool enough, they should stay firm and tender.
How many times can you harvest kohlrabi?
You can only harvest kohlrabi one time, and then it is finished. It does not grow back after it has been cut. However, you can continue picking the leaves as often as you’d like.
Harvesting kohlrabi is pretty simple. The most important thing to remember is to always pull or cut it before it gets too large. That will ensure you have the best crop possible.
More Harvesting Posts
- When & How To Harvest Potatoes
- Harvesting Brussels Sprouts – Everything You Need To Know
- When & How To Harvest Onions
- When & How To Harvest Tomatillos
Share your tips for how to harvest kohlrabi, or your favorite recipes for using it, in the comments below.