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What To Do With a Turnip?

January 25th, 2012

I found these lovely turnips at Local Roots in Wooster, OH last week and snatched them up. I’ve never grown them and have only had them in my kitchen once before. As I strive to learn more about winter gardening and growing vegetables that don’t require canning or preparation for storage, I find myself turning to root vegetables like the turnip. Purchasing from local farmers before growing them yourself is a great way to test them out to make sure you like them; you also know if they grow well in your area if the farmers are selling them. Although I’m thinking even if I don’t love them, they’ll be growing in my garden in the future because they’re such a versatile and useful winter vegetable!

According to what I’ve read in my on-line searches, There are many different way to prepare turnips, but I’m not sure which methods I should try. I figured the best place to ask for advice is here. These three large turnips should give me enough to try three different recipes. What do you recommend?

So what is the best way to eat a turnip? Have you ever grown turnips in your garden?

67 Comments to “What To Do With a Turnip?”
  1. karlin on January 25, 2012 at 5:19 am

    They are great mixed with other root veggies such as parsnips, potatoes, carrots, etc. You can cook them and make a souffle or like mashed potatoes, or you can roast them and make a glaze like sweet potatoes. Try them mashed, with horseradish and bake in a casserole. Add some of those french fried onions and a good shred cheese for the topping. You’re gonna love it.

    Reply to karlin's comment

  2. tami on January 25, 2012 at 5:43 am

    I really need to experiment more with root veggies too. I grow potatoes and carrots but have NEVER eaten a parsinp or turnip. EVER. I wonder why? Are they bitter? Do they taste bad?
    tami´s last post ..Three Blind Mice? Nope. But I Do Have One Blind Cat

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    • Susy on January 25, 2012 at 8:02 am

      They’re just not common. We really like most other root vegetables, turnips, rutabagas, etc. Perhaps these varieties also don’t store or travel as well – that seems to be the main quality for commercial vegetables.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. kristin @ going country on January 25, 2012 at 6:53 am

    We grew turnips last year for the first time. I actually ate them raw in thin slices (they taste kind of like broccoli stems, which is my favorite part of broccoli), but they can be put into stews with other root vegetables, roasted in the oven (I’ve never tried this, although I have yet to find a vegetable that doesn’t benefit from oven roasting) in cubes, and the MiL made a yummy turnip gratin. I think she just boiled the turnips until soft, sliced them somewhat thin, put them in a baking dish and added butter and finely grated Parmesan cheese, and baked for ten or fifteen minutes.
    kristin @ going country´s last post ..Culinary Notes

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    • Susy on January 25, 2012 at 8:03 am

      I was thinking they’d probably be great in a gratin, definitely will be trying that method! Cream, butter & cheese – what vegetable isn’t better this way?

      (I like to eat the broccoli stems too!)

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Liz J on January 25, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Like Kristin I grew these last year for the first time and they did very well. We like them mashed, cubed and steamed, or cubed and sauteed in olive oil with a bit of fresh herbs tossed in. I like the idea of a gratin and will have to go in search of a good recipe for that right now.

    Reply to Liz J's comment

  5. Kathi Cook on January 25, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I will be interested in reading the comments. I also have 5 sitting in my fridge right now from my farmer’s market. I was thinking of roasting them, but wanted and interesting glaze to put on them.

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

  6. Virginia on January 25, 2012 at 7:31 am

    My favorite way to eat a turnip is roasted with a little sorghum or honey. This method takes away the bitterness associated with a turnip and enhances its sweetness. i can’t wait to see what you decide to do with your three turnips.

    Reply to Virginia's comment

  7. Kathy on January 25, 2012 at 9:02 am

    We love turnips. We have had them creamed like creamed potatoes with cream and butter. Cubed and cooked like potatoes but mashed. Gratin is really good, but the best that we have had is peeled, cubed, drizzled with a little olive oil, add a little fresh ground sea salt and black pepper then roast them in the oven at 400 for 30 to 40 minutes. You don’t need to add any type of sweetner – roasting them takes the bitterness out.

    Reply to Kathy's comment

  8. Hailey in MT on January 25, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Slow simmered venision roast with root veggies is the best way to eat a turnip!

    Reply to Hailey in MT's comment

  9. Wendy on January 25, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Marty and the kids eat them raw – like Kohlrabi. But as with others – stews and such was what the grower recommended to me when I purchased them. Also, sauteed in bacon grease with seasonings.

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  10. Wendy on January 25, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Follow up: You can make a very safe cough syrup for children with the turnip – we have done this. Do an internet search and will reveal several methods. I peel, and chop the turnip and sprinkle with sucanat. It forms a syrup that smells like a turnip. Give to child (or adult!).

    Also, turnips are bitter if planted too early in the year – do not plant until August. We found this out the hard way! :)

    Reply to Wendy's comment

    • Liz J on January 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      What zone are you in Wendy?

      Reply to Liz J's comment

      • Wendy on January 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm

        We live in Ohio – we platned them int he spring and had horribly bitter/unedible turnips. My friend told me not to plant until August. Hers were sweet and no tones of bitter coming through.

        to Wendy's comment

    • BotanicalRyan on January 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      Wendy is right on. Turnips, and rutabagas, are MUCH better here in Colorado’s Front Range if we sow them after mid-July. They ripen when it’s cooler, don’t bolt as much, and develop a great sweetness after a lite nip of frost.

      Reply to BotanicalRyan's comment

  11. canned Quilter on January 25, 2012 at 9:21 am

    If you make them in Gratin try boiling in water with a tsp of baking soda first. They will foam. Then rinse the foam away, put in clean water and finish boiling to prepare mashed or gratin . Greatly improves flavor and takes away the “bite” a turnip is famous for.
    canned Quilter´s last post ..Homemade Egg Noodles

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  12. Annie on January 25, 2012 at 9:30 am

    The best way to eat a turnip, in my opinion, is to feed them to your hogs and then eat the hog. lol!
    Annie´s last post ..Swwweeeeeeet!

    Reply to Annie's comment

    • Wendy on January 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Ha! I appreciate this one! :)

      Reply to Wendy's comment

  13. Kelly on January 25, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I grew turnips a few years ago and (thanks Wendy!) they were rather bitter because I planted them too early, figuring they’d be like beets or carrots. I pickled them (ala Japanese/thai pickles) and they were fine, though had decided not to grow them again. Maybe I’ll reconsider, though, if the timing was the problem.
    Kelly´s last post ..HannahMorphous

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  14. Trish on January 25, 2012 at 10:01 am

    All the ways that have been metioned are all delicious. Just don’t forget about the greens. They are yummy too!

    Reply to Trish's comment

  15. Melissa on January 25, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I’m not a huge fan of the root portion of the turnip- however the green on the other hand is really delicious! Slow cooked turnip greens are a southern delicacy. I’d feed the root portion to my rabbits and cook the greens- make sure to get some with the greens next time and slow cook them with a piece of smoked pork!
    Melissa´s last post ..I will be back…

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  16. Rhonda on January 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

    My aunt roasted turnips with Granny Smith Apples, sweet potatoes and cranberries with brown sugar and it was EXCELLENT.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  17. Jaye Whitney on January 25, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Yes! I grew up eating turnips, but only recently have I been roasting them. Depending on the size, half or quarter them. Toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven (425) until a bit tender. This is a great way to eat any root vegetable.

    I’ve grown them as well, they’re easy, hardy and really produce nicely.

    And yes, don’t forget to use the greens :)

    Reply to Jaye Whitney's comment

  18. Allison on January 25, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I bought some of the Turnips at Local Roots too, a few weeks back! I roasted ours and then pureed some with butter for the baby. For us, We ate ours like a side dish with Swiss Chard and Bacon :)
    Allison´s last post ..Thirty

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  19. Lori on January 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I love turnips! They were one of the first things I tried to grow when I began gardening, and I am so glad I gave them a try. They are a very rewarding crop, as they are easy to grow, fairly quick to mature, and you can eat the whole plant – greens and all. I love them simply roasted with butter and onions, but my husband turned me on to eating them raw – thinly sliced and sprinkled with sea salt. They also make a great mash when mixed with potatoes. Of course you can’t beat a great big pot of braised turnip greens either – yum!

    Reply to Lori's comment

  20. Andrea Duke on January 25, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I have never ate or grew turnips. I don’t know why I think I wouldn’t like them, since I like root vegetables.

    I have some seeds, so I’ll give it a go this year :)

    Reply to Andrea Duke's comment

  21. glenda on January 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

    I fermented a batch of grated turnips this fall. Delicious!!

    Reply to glenda's comment

  22. Eli on January 25, 2012 at 11:19 am

    They make excellent (baked) french fries! A friend served them at a dinner party recently. Similar to this recipe I believe:
    Eli´s last post ..I like cheese more than chocolate

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  23. Katie on January 25, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I just cooked turnips for the first time last week, and felt late to the party. They were awesome! I used the buttered turnips recipe from Alice Waters’ “The Art of Simple Food.” Amazing! I highly recommend that recipe.

    Reply to Katie's comment

  24. Rick on January 25, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Turnips are a new to our menu as well. We grew a small amount of them last year. We harvested them fairly small but they were in a little late in the summer. I found them to have a taste kind of like cauliflower but with some of the bite of a radish. The jury is still out for us. We are going to try them again this year both in the spring and fall and then make a final decision if they will stay in our crop rotation. We sure did like adding the greens to our salads!
    Rick´s last post ..A little update on Micro Greens

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  25. kristen on January 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Even if you decide to cook them all I suggest at least tasting them raw. They are truly delicious just as a raw veggie. They are a tiny bit sweet, and not starchy like a raw potato. Whenever I serve them on a veggie platter people look at me a bit strange, but they leave my house converts.

    Reply to kristen's comment

  26. risa on January 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Earlier generations of my family grew a lot of them but ate the greens and fed the roots to the stock. I have raised them mostlfor the greens which I use in my dehydrated veg leaves mixtures — “veggie crumble.”
    risa´s last post ..An honest living

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    • Susy on January 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      I’ve been wanting to read up on growing root vegetables like mangles for livestock feeding – just in case I ever have a cow or something :)

      Reply to Susy's comment

  27. leanne on January 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    My mom always served them mashed 50-50 with carrots. I don’t know if I’ve ever had them any other way!

    Reply to leanne's comment

  28. Joy Giles on January 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Cut them up, steam or boil until fork tender, drain and add a bit of butter and salt and pepper. Simple is the best. They store forever in the frig drawer.

    Reply to Joy Giles's comment

  29. Miranda on January 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve been eating a lot of turnips lately. I like to slice / shred them into coleslaw (that i make with yogurt), chop them into curries, chunk them into stews/soups, roast ’em. They kind of take the place of potato, radish or kohlrabi.
    Miranda´s last post ..Beazell Forest

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  30. Katelyn Faye on January 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    We take all the root veggies and tubers we can round up, chop them, put them in a casserole dish with butter and spices (I like cloves and garlic but you can use anything you like) and bake until the veggies are tender but not mushy. With two vegetarians in the house we try to find foods that are nutritious but also filling, and this is most definitely hearty enough to be a meal!

    Reply to Katelyn Faye's comment

  31. Val on January 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Roasted is my favorite, especially mixed with other roots. Look for soup and stew recipes, too.
    When you plant some–and you totally should–look for the smaller white Japanese varieties. They are buttery and fantastic–great for glazing. There is a pinkish red variety also (Baker Creek) that is great sliced on a salad (atop spinach and with pomegranate seeds this is the prettiest salad evah).
    Finally, pickles are a must. Those pink pickles you get with a falafel are turnips pickled with a beet. Also called “quick lift.”
    You need not go the Lebanese route, I pickled some with cumin and esplette that were amazing.
    Here is a great recipe for the greens:
    Obviously, I am a fan of turnips!
    Val´s last post ..Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

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  32. Sierra on January 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I make a morrocan stew with turnips, bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes (I’m sure I’m forgetting something). It’s pretty amazing. I’ll try to find the recipe for you. :)
    Sierra´s last post ..clap your hands!

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    • Susy on January 25, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      Sounds delicious Sierra – looking forward to it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  33. Brenda on January 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Turnips are a vegetable I have never eaten, I wonder why that is as I LOVE vegetables. I would love to see a follow up post on the ways you cooked them/how thtey tasted…

    Reply to Brenda's comment

  34. josie on January 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Turnip rutabaga or swede.
    When we visited Bath last year we had cornish pasties hot out of the oven…they were SO good! I was thrilled when, later that year, a dear friend from Nothern Ireland gifted me with a cookbook that she enjoyed. There was a recipe for cornish pasties that had listed as an ingredient “swede.” I had no idea what this was and when I asked my friend she laughed and said “rutabaga….you yanks call it turnip!” I often find myself looking at English cooking recipes in winter because they seem to have much better command of winter root vegetables than we do here in the States. So if I had some turnips, I would be very tempted to make a cornish pasty!

    Reply to josie's comment

  35. Sincerely, Emily on January 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    This is my first year growing turnips and I will grow them again next and A LOT more of them. We are not super cold here but have had many nights w/frozen temps (even some mid-20’s) and I haven’t even covered them and they are fine. That is a huge plus because I don’t have covers for all the garden beds and I know what they can handle.

    I have eaten the raw on salads – thinly sliced and I have steamed them and mashed them with green onions, salt/pepper and add a bit of milk or yogurt if I needed it. We have really enjoyed them.I still have three out in the garden and would like to try roasting them or add to soup. It will be neat to hear what you do with them and how you like them.
    Sincerely, Emily´s last post ..What am I saving it for?

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  36. Linda on January 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    what is an easy way to peel turnips when you have “Arthur” in your hands?

    Reply to Linda's comment

    • Susy on January 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      No idea Linda.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • KimH on January 25, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      If you will cut across the root end (the south pole), then you can start a strip going from root end to the tops or vice versa,. It should pull off fairly easily. You might need to help it along a little bit with your knife here & there.
      Rada Cutlery has an inexpensive but really awesome vegetable peeler if Arthur doesnt keep you from holding one, even lightly. You could just use that instead.

      And quite actually.. the peels are edible as well. Just scrub em up well! ;)

      Reply to KimH's comment

    • Wendy on January 25, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      I just use a veggie peeler, I’ve had someone attached to my hip for near 10 years now and a peeler is safer in the hand for whatever I peel with little pudgy fingers that sometimes grab! :)

      Reply to Wendy's comment

  37. Jacki on January 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Middle eastern folks brine and/or pickle them. Place a small beet in the jar to make them pink. They are not only a tasty addition but pretty as well.

    Reply to Jacki's comment

  38. Songbirdtiff on January 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I hope you will share your best responses. I’d love to grow year round so that we can spend less time preserving and truly eat in season most of the time. My grandpa grows these in mass quantities, but he doesn’t eat the turnip, just the greens. I think I’d like the greens better than the turnip, but my son will eat them raw! (the root, not the greens). Next year I will have a hoop house and fresh veggies year round. This is my solemn vow.
    Songbirdtiff´s last post ..Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe + Tips

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  39. Kathi Cook on January 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    PS: I just made mine with my dinner-peeled diced and roasted in 400 oven with olive oil salt and pepper. Tossed with fresh thyme at end. I loved them, they didn’t need any additional flavor…this could be my new favoriite winter veggie

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

  40. bonnie on January 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    very commonly grown in my area. Harvested small with plenty of cool weather and soil moisture, they are not bitter when eaten raw. I peel them with part of the stem attached, hold the stem, and eat the rest.
    To me, cooking brings out the bitterness so I prefer them raw, but I have enjoyed them several ways cooked.

    Boiled – cubed like potatoes and cooked with the greens.

    Roasted – several posters have mentioned ways to do this (probably one of the best ways to enjoy them cooked).

    Stewed – with other root veggies with a pot roast (a very good way to treat turnips).

    Deep fat fried – sliced very thin (a novel way that should be tried at least once)

    Reply to bonnie's comment

  41. Kat on January 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I love purple top turnips–they’re my favorite variety. I eat them raw, sprinkled with a little salt, or roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

    Reply to Kat's comment

  42. BotanicalRyan on January 25, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    I think oven-roasted turnip steak fries are the way to go (one of my fav’s). Cut big fries, toss in oil, bake on 400 till brown and crisp. I love to dust with sweet curry powder or garam masala and salt…then bring on the ketchup!
    BotanicalRyan´s last post ..Beautiful Bug Blog

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    • KimH on January 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      Oh man, that sounds awesome!!

      Reply to KimH's comment

  43. Texan on January 25, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I love them raw, just wash peel and slice up. Sprinkle with a little salt.

    Though I must say I am going to try the turnip steak fries! But I think I will try smoked paprika for the spice on them!
    Texan´s last post ..Compost and recycled containers

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  44. KimH on January 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    If they were in my house, they most likely wouldnt make it to being cooked.
    We always just peel them most of the time, (unless we were eating them right out of the garden, which we did a lot) slice them in 1/4 -1/2 inch slices, give em a good dash of salt and then we’d fight over who got the last one.. YUM! Thats my favorite way to eat them.. love love love them.

    We also used to chop up a bit of bacon, cook it down fairly crispy, add some chopped onions, garlic, hot pepper vinegar (or a slash or two of pepper sauce or hot sauce & a dash or two of rice or red wine, or a.cider vinegar), a smidgeon of sugar or syrup, add the turnips, about 3/4 inch cubed, the turnip greens, salt, pepper, & about 1/8-1/4 cup water and let it simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes… Yum! Ok..I’ve got a taste for turnips now.. terrible. ;)

    Yes, turnips are a cool weather crop.. but I wouldnt think in the northern US states, it would matter. I personally would grow them in my garden if I had room. They’re one of the easiest crops to grow in my opinion..

    Reply to KimH's comment

  45. June on January 26, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Chop the turnips up into bite-sized pieces. Do the same with some other root vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, beets. Sprinkle them with olive oil, wrap them up in tin foil and bake for 45 minutes. It’s delicious.

    Reply to June's comment

  46. ken on January 26, 2012 at 1:40 am

    raw! eat them like apples! they’re delicious and healthiest, that way. if that’s too much, julienne and throw them in salads. yummy!

    Reply to ken's comment

  47. Cathy on January 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    We eat them all the ways described above. We plant them in with our green cover crop in the winter so we have literally over an acre. Our new favorite way is Creamy Turnip Soup from the current issue of Garden and Gun.
    Cathy´s last post ..Valentine’s Day Quick Gift: Cowboy Cookies in a Jar…Again!

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    • Susy on January 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      I’ve been wanting to subscribe to that magazine. I’ll have to see if I can find that recipe – sounds wonderful. I’m always up for some soup on a cold winter evening!

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • KimH on January 26, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Thats a great idea, planting them in with your cover crops.. When do you actually seed them? Early winter? That soup sounds awesome!

      Reply to KimH's comment

  48. jules on January 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    We just cube them up and cook them in the greens! I’ll have to try the soup and roasting them. We love roasted Brussel Sprouts.

    Now, Parsnips…what on earth do you do with those?

    Reply to jules's comment

    • Susy on January 26, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      I’m guessing all of the ways listed for turnips will work for parsnips. I enjoy them roasted or in stew or fried up in cubes or strips.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  49. judy meade on January 28, 2012 at 2:02 am

    All my southern kin cooked them in the greens with a little extra bacon “seasoning” – grease! Yum. One of these years we will plant them. I might have to disguise them as something else. Hubby, I don’t think Likes them or too many greens. I likr them raw as well. Haven’t had any for a while but I’m getting some soon now – I’m hungry!

    Reply to judy meade's comment

  50. Norma on January 30, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Oh, I’ve had a few laughs at the comments from those that haven’t enjoyed turnips before. There is NO comparison between a store bought turnip and a home grown one. Just like comparing store bought tomatoes and home. They are so sweet pull straight out the ground, washed and eaten like an apple, Yum!
    Yes, great in stews and soups. Any type vegetable, or chicken soup. I have homemade soups all winter long for family and reckon it’s the root vegies that make them sooooo nutritious and keep the snuffles away. Also, they are as easy as radishes to grow!
    Now, with parsnips…..some of you guys have been missing out! My grandma made a sweet curry that wouldn’t be the same without the parsnip, but that’s another story:)

    Reply to Norma's comment

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