Kohlrabi vs Broccoli Stems

When exploring the world of vegetables, you might find yourself comparing kohlrabi and broccoli stems, especially if you’re seeking variety in your diet or creative alternatives for your culinary creations.

Kohlrabi, with its peculiar bulbous shape, may not be as widely recognized as broccoli, but it offers a distinct flavor profile and nutritional benefits that merit consideration alongside the more familiar broccoli stem. Both belong to the brassica family, a group renowned for its nutrient-rich members, and share some nutritional characteristics while also exhibiting differences that might influence your choice.

Kohlrabi and broccoli stems face off, each with their unique texture and color. The kohlrabi is pale green with a bulbous shape, while the broccoli stems are slender and vibrant green

You may be familiar with the taste of broccoli stems, often enjoyed for their crunchy texture and mild sweetness. They’re commonly recognized as part of the broccoli plant, frequently overlooked in favor of the more popular florets, yet they are full of flavor and versatility.

In contrast, kohlrabi, which can remind you of a turnip with a hint of radish-like pepperiness, brings a unique taste and crispness that can enliven dishes, sometimes standing in for broccoli stems or other brassica vegetables in recipes.

While broccoli is a noted source of vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin K, kohlrabi provides its own nutritional advantages, including being a significant source of copper.

Two vegetables side by side on a cutting board, kohlrabi and broccoli stems, with a measuring tape wrapped around each to compare their sizes

Nutritional Comparison

In this section, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the nutritional components present in kohlrabi and broccoli stems, helping you understand their health benefits and dietary significance.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Kohlrabi: A powerhouse of Vitamin C, it contains 62mg per 100 grams, contributing significantly to your immune system and collagen production. It is also rich in potassium, vital for maintaining healthy blood pressure, and provides a good amount of magnesium and phosphorus.

Broccoli Stems: Not to be outdone, broccoli stems are a source of vitamin C, although they contain less (approximately 28.2mg per 100 grams, when cooked) than kohlrabi. They are also a source of calcium crucial for bone health, and provide iron, which is essential for blood production.

Health Benefits

Kohlrabi and Broccoli Stems both contribute to your daily fiber needs, supporting gut health and blood sugar management.

Caloric Values and Macronutrients


  • Calories: Low
  • Protein: 1.7 grams
  • Carbs: 6.2 grams
  • Sugars: Approximately 2.6 grams
  • Fiber: 1.8 grams

Broccoli Stems:

  • Calories: Low
  • Protein: 2.98 grams
  • Carbs: 6.64 grams (for the whole broccoli, with stems being the bulk)
  • Sugars: Contains fructose, but in minimal amounts
  • Fiber: 2.6 grams

Dietary Considerations

Kohlrabi: Glycemic index – Low; fits well into diets controlling for blood sugar.

Broccoli Stems: Cholesterol and sodium content – Negligible, making it a heart-healthy choice.

Phytochemical Contents

Both Kohlrabi and Broccoli Stems are dense with antioxidants and glucosinolates, compounds that may reduce the risk of chronic diseases and support overall health.

Physical Characteristics

A kohlrabi and broccoli stem stand side by side, showcasing their contrasting physical characteristics. The kohlrabi is bulbous and pale green, while the broccoli stem is long and slender, with a vibrant green hue

In comparing kohlrabi and broccoli stems, you will notice distinct differences in their texture and consistency, size and shape, external colors, and internal structure.

Texture and Consistency

Kohlrabi, a root vegetable, has a crunchy texture much like that of the broccoli stem but tends to be slightly juicier. The leaves of kohlrabi are also edible and have a gentler texture compared to the tougher stems. In contrast, broccoli stems are fibrous yet tender when cooked.

Size and Shape

You’ll find that kohlrabi comes in various types, typically forming a round, bulbous stem. Some types can be more flattened in shape. Broccoli stems, part of the cruciferous vegetable family, extend from a large, central stalk and can vary in length, but they are generally long and cylindrical.

External Colors

Kohlrabi varieties can display vibrant hues:

  • Purple kohlrabi: Deep purple skin
  • Green kohlrabi: Greenish skin akin to that of broccoli but lighter

On the other hand, the broccoli stem exterior is a consistent green, varying only slightly in shade depending on the variety.

Internal Structure

The inside of both the kohlrabi and broccoli stem are a pale, whitish-green. While the kohlrabi’s inside is uniformly dense and solid, the broccoli stem may show a more fibrous inner structure with noticeable stalk rings.

Culinary Uses

In your kitchen, both kohlrabi and broccoli stems can be used in a variety of dishes due to their versatility and complementary flavors. You can enjoy these vegetables cooked or raw, in both simplistic and elaborate preparations.

Common Recipes

  • Salads and Slaws: Utilize raw kohlrabi or broccoli stems as crunchy elements in salads or slaws.
    • Example: Shave kohlrabi for a refreshing slaw, or mix diced broccoli stems into a vibrant garden salad.
  • Soups and Stews: Broccoli stems and kohlrabi can be boiled and blended to create rich, creamy soups.
    • Example: Puree boiled broccoli stems with potatoes for a hearty soup or add diced kohlrabi to vegetable stews.
  • Stir-fries: Both vegetables are excellent when sautéed, offering a satisfying bite.
    • Example: Toss sliced broccoli stems or kohlrabi into a stir-fry with kale, cauliflower, and soy sauce for a quick meal.

Preparation Techniques

  • Slicing and Chopping: Use a sharp knife to slice kohlrabi into rounds or matchsticks for raw dishes, or chop broccoli stems for cooking.
  • Steam or Sauté: Steam broccoli stems to maintain their nutrients, or sauté for a deeper flavor.
  • Roasting: Kohlrabi and broccoli stems can be roasted until caramelized to intensify their sweetness.

Flavor Pairings

  • Vegetables: Partner with cabbage, radishes, or turnips for a medley of textures and mild spice.
  • Herbs & Spices: Balance the flavors with aromatic herbs like thyme and rosemary or spices such as turmeric and paprika.
  • Proteins: Combine with roasted chicken or seared tofu to create a substantial dish.
  • Dressings & Sauces: Toss in a lemon vinaigrette or a creamy tahini dressing to complement their flavors.

Agricultural and Seasonal Information

A field with kohlrabi and broccoli stems growing, surrounded by seasonal information charts and agricultural tools

You can find kohlrabi and broccoli stems at their peak during specific seasons, grown in various regions, each with unique storage needs to maximize shelf life.

Harvest Seasons

Kohlrabi, belonging to the cabbage family, and broccoli stems, both part of the Brassica family, have their own harvest seasons.

  • Kohlrabi: You’ll typically find kohlrabi during the fall and sometimes in the early winter months.
  • Broccoli Stems: These greens have a broader harvest season, stretching from late fall throughout the winter and into spring.

Growing Regions

When considering where these vegetables thrive:

  • Kohlrabi: It’s a staple in European and Asian cuisines, indicating its successful cultivation in these regions.
  • Broccoli Stems: Broccoli is versatile and is widely grown in temperate climates across the globe.

Storage and Shelf Life

Once harvested, both vegetables should be stored properly:

  • Kohlrabi:
    • Leaves: Keep them in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel in the fridge’s crisper drawer.
    • Stem: Remove leaf stems, wash, and store in a cool, humid place or refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
  • Broccoli Stems:
    • Entire Stem: Best used fresh but can often be stored in the fridge for several days.
    • Tips to Prolong Shelf Life: Store in a high humidity crisper drawer, and ensure they don’t become wilted.

Purchasing and Selection

A hand reaching for kohlrabi and broccoli stems on display in a grocery store produce section

When you’re looking to add nutrition and variety to your meals, purchasing high-quality kohlrabi and broccoli stems is key. Here’s how to choose the right vegetables and understand their market availability.

Choosing Quality Vegetables

In selecting kohlrabi, look for bulbs that are firm with a crisp texture. They should be about 2-3 inches in diameter for optimal maturity. The leaves should be vibrant and green, indicating freshness.

For broccoli stems, the ideal candidates are firm and not overly fibrous. A fresh, crunchy bite is a good sign of quality in both vegetables.

  • Kohlrabi: Firm bulbs, crisp texture, fresh leaves
  • Broccoli Stems: Firm stems, crunchy texture, no signs of wilting

Availability in Markets

Kohlrabi is commonly found at farmers markets and in the produce section of grocery stores. Its availability might vary depending on the region and the time of the year.

Broccoli stems are often discarded in place of the florets, but can sometimes be found packaged separately in grocery stores.

  • Grocery Stores: Packaged broccoli stems, kohlrabi year-round in some locations
  • Farmers Market: Fresh kohlrabi with leaves, seasonal availability

Environmental Impact

In assessing the environmental impact of kohlrabi and broccoli stems, your focus will be on how their cultivation practices and the logistics of their transportation and storage affect our planet.

Kohlrabi and broccoli stems in a garden, surrounded by healthy soil and vibrant green plants

Cultivation Practices

Kohlrabi, a root vegetable from the cabbage family, and broccoli stems, part of the brassica family, both have environmentally friendly cultivation practices.

They require less water compared to more water-intensive crops, effectively conserving a vital resource and alleviating the pressure on water supplies.

  • Water Usage: Significantly lower for both kohlrabi and broccoli stems than many other agricultural products.
  • Pesticides and Fertilizers: Usage is moderate but varies. Both can be cultivated in a sustainable manner with a mindful approach to inputs, further reducing their environmental footprint.

Transportation and Storage

The environmental impact during transportation and storage of kohlrabi and broccoli stems is primarily influenced by:

  • Distance: Locally sourced vegetables minimize transportation emissions.
  • Packaging: Utilizing less plastic during packaging cuts down on waste. Alternatives or reduced packaging are preferable.
  • Shelf Life: Both vegetables have a relatively stable shelf life, reducing food waste. Kohlrabi, with its sturdy exterior, may require less protective packaging compared to broccoli stems.
  • Storage Conditions: Cool, controlled environments extend shelf life but increase energy use. It’s a balancing act between reducing spoilage and controlling carbon emissions.

Note on Ash: Ash content in soil can impact the growth of these vegetables, but this is typically managed through agricultural best practices to ensure healthy crop yields without excessive environmental impact.

Historical Context

A farmer holds kohlrabi and broccoli stems, comparing their appearance and size. The surrounding market stalls display other fresh produce

In this section, you’ll gain an understanding of the rich history behind kohlrabi and broccoli stems, and their respective places in agriculture and culture.

Origins and Cultivation History

Kohlrabi, also known as the German turnip, is a member of the cabbage family and traces its cultivation back to Europe. Specifically, it is believed to have been developed from the marrow cabbage and became a staple in the colder climes of northern Europe.

Kohlrabi is characterized by a bulbous stem that grows just above the ground, available in varieties that range in color from white to reddish-purple.

On the other hand, broccoli stems come from the plant Brassica oleracea, an ancient vegetable cultivated in the Mediterranean region.

It wasn’t until the times of the Roman Empire that the broccoli resembling the modern-day variety—with both edible florets and stems—came into being.

The thick, fibrous stems of broccoli have long been overshadowed by the more popular florets but are equally nutritious and edible.

Cultural Significance

Throughout the seasons, farmers markets across various regions showcase the versatility of these vegetables.

Kohlrabi, with its mild flavor and crisp texture, is a vegetable that has woven its way into the culinary fabric of many European cultures.

It’s often a seasonal find at local markets, signaling the arrival of cooler growing periods.

Broccoli stems, although less celebrated, have been part of culinary traditions for centuries.

Your experience with these stems may be as simple as finding them in a mixed vegetable offering or as intricate as discovering them in traditional Roman dishes.

The availability and usage of broccoli stems in cooking have evolved, but their nutritional value and culinary potential remain high.

Frequently Asked Questions

A kohlrabi and broccoli stem face off, surrounded by question marks and a spotlight, representing the comparison between the two

In this section, you’ll find detailed answers to common questions comparing the taste profiles, nutritional values, and health benefits of kohlrabi and broccoli stems.

What are the taste differences between kohlrabi and broccoli stems?

Kohlrabi has a sweet and slightly peppery flavor when raw, which becomes milder upon cooking.

Broccoli stems are less sweet and less peppery, with a flavor closely resembling the florets.

How do the nutritional profiles of kohlrabi and broccoli stems compare?

Kohlrabi is high in vitamins C and B6, dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese.

Broccoli stems are also nutritious, but kohlrabi generally contains more vitamin C and fiber per serving.

Can the stems of kohlrabi be eaten similar to broccoli stems?

Yes, the stems of kohlrabi can be consumed in much the same way as broccoli stems. They can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, offering a crunchy texture and a range of culinary uses.

What are the health benefits of consuming kohlrabi in comparison to broccoli stems?

Kohlrabi provides significant health benefits as it is rich in nutrients that support the immune system and overall health.

It has more vitamin C compared to broccoli stems, which is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and immune function.

Are there any caloric advantages to choosing kohlrabi over broccoli stems?

Both kohlrabi and broccoli stems are low in calories, making them a wise choice for those monitoring their caloric intake.

Kohlrabi may have a slight edge in fiber content, which can aid in digestion and satiety.

Which vegetable is known to have a flavor profile similar to that of broccoli stems?

Celeriac, also known as celery root, shares a texture with broccoli stems. It has a taste reminiscent of celery, making it a suitable alternative for those seeking a similar flavor profile.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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