Ya know, you might think because I’m an organic farmer that I’m all natural, healthy and grew up eating all kinds of veggies… But let me tell ya, I grew up in central New York state in the 70’s and 80’s eating mostly high sodium canned veggies.
My Dad is not a big veggie eater, so canned peas were his preferred ‘veggie’ (yuck). And truth be told, I was a picky eater most of my childhood.
Working at Calvert’s Gift Farm ten years ago (during my mentorship in the Beginning Farmer Training Program), I was pretty sure I didn’t like turnips. But I tried some according to owner Becki’s instructions and quickly found out —
These are NOT your Grandma’s turnips!
My oldest daughter is the pickiest eater in our crew, but it’s even one of her favs. Lightly steamed, tossed with butter and salt, and she’s been know to eat the whole bunch herself!
WHY ARE THEY SO GOOD?
Although there are 30 varieties of turnips, you’re most likely to find the hakurei variety in your share.
Hailing from Japan, hakurei turnips are a milder, crunchy, and slightly sweet root veggie that are similar in taste and texture to radishes yet tend to have less bite. They are the perfect variety if you already like turnips, or if you’re trying them for the first time… or second time…
WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE TURNIPS?
If you’re like me, the only way I knew how to eat turnips as a kid was when Mom boiled and mashed them with potatoes. (I suspect this was to make sure we ate them!) 😉 As an adult, I realized there are many options to explore, and they soon became one of my all-time favorites.
Like arugula and radishes, turnips are members of the mustard family, which gives them that special zing. However, large or old turnips can be unpleasantly “hot” if not cooked properly or combined with the proper vegetables (like potatoes).
So the younger, fresher turnips are where it’s at. They can be key to adding the zip to dishes we love, without being overpowering. That’s why you’ll find hakurei turnips in your shares in the Spring or Fall — because they have the best flavor when they are still young, small and sweet.
Still not convinced? Here are seven creative ways to cook with turnips that will have you coming back for more!
THE ADDED BONUS
Did you know that you can eat hakurei turnip greens? Like beet and radish greens, you can mix them with your salad lettuce or substitute them for any other green in any recipe. So don’t throw away those greens!
Did you also know that they can be frozen?! Find out how below, plus how to prep, store, and use this vegetable in your cooking.
To store: Remove the greens from the turnips and store in a plastic bag to use within 3 days. If you put a piece of paper towel in the bag, it can sometimes extend the fridge life by a couple more days. The turnip roots should be stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge for up to a week.
To prep: Cut off the green tops. There’s no need to peel, just wash and cut the white roots into wedges or slices.
To use: Serve raw with dip in a veggie tray. Grate and add them to a salad. Turnips are delicious when roasted with other root vegetables (like carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, garlic). Add turnips to your favorite mashed potatoes. Add them to soups and stews. Dice them into any salad, matchstick for a quick sautéed side, roast them, or steam them and toss with butter and salt for a 10 minute side dish (a personal favorite).
To freeze: Blanch for 3 minutes in hot boiling water. Cool in ice water for 3 minutes, drain and pack into freezer containers or freezer bags.