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To me kohlrabi means that spring is here and summer is coming. Kohlrabi, along with radishes and salad leaves, are the first vegetables to appear in glasshouses after cold Czech winter months of snow and ice and a ground so hard that nothing could grow. My family had two places where they grew kohlrabi. One was in their greenhouse at the back of their home in the village of Novy Ples. The other was a plot of land behind my father's workplace in Hradec Kralove. It is an easy vegetable to grow and an even easier vegetable to eat.

Kohlrabi drawing

Kohlrabi comes in two sizes. The big ones are about the size of a one kilo melon. When they are fresh, they can be cut into large slices, like a watermelon, and eaten raw. As they age, they are tougher, woody and spongy but they can still be eaten after boiling with a little salt and caraway. In fact, if they are for the cooking pot, they can be kept for weeks and their life can extend well into autumn.

But the best way to eat kohlrabi is fresh. The smaller ones are crunchy and tangy and eaten like apples. That is the best way to eat them. They are also very handy to carry when hiking or camping. They retain their crispness and do not go mushy.

There is a lot to be said for kohlrabi. It is my favourite vegetable and I miss them now that I live in Australia, where they do not seem to be as popular as in the Czech Republic.

Jiri Zmitko