What do I do with a turnip?

The garden survived my absence. A few of the strings were down, but nothing was trampled and nothing was eaten. The soil was dry, that’s all. Well, that and the plants were substantially bigger. Perhaps watched plants have attitudes like watched pots.

No one told me that turnips are vegetable egomaniacs. “Look at me! Look at me!” their sprawling greens scream. I planted them like most of the other veggies, with rows about 12 inches apart. Apparently,I didn’t read the seed packet closely enough; it recommends 16-24″ between rows. As it is, the turnips are overwhelming a row of carrots and a row of beets. The turnip thinnings that I transplanted amongst the chard are trying to do the same, but the chard scoffs at the attempt and grows taller.

It wasn’t my idea to grow turnips. Who grows turnips? Who eats turnips? Who does anything with turnips? I know I like carrots, but the chances of getting any under present conditions are slim. So I pulled a tester turnip today to see if I like it and to decide if I should pull out the ones hindering the carrots.

My handy-dandy The New Doubleday Cookbook, by Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna, offers this:

Most vegetables as ancient as turnips (more than 4,000 years old) have been in and out of favor half a dozen times. Not so turnips. They’ve never been particularly popular and only today are we beginning to appreciate their gingery piquancy.


Well, actually, they are kind of lovely–to look at, anyway.


The turnips pictured on the seed packet are Christmas-ball round. The one I pulled today is carrot-like. Maybe the carrots are fighting back after all, exerting their influence the only place they can–underground.

According to the recipes in the cookbook, turnips are prepared much the same as potatoes, with the exception, perhaps, of mashing. I think I will roast this bugger with some onions and potatoes and carrots and fresh thyme. I’ll let you know what I think.

Categories: Alaska

6 replies »

  1. Turnips! I, too, had been told to boil them like potatoes. But I did mash them. I put in a bit of butter and milk, then mashed them. I found the flavor favorable. Tomas did not. So we haven’t really ventured back to turnip land since. I’ll eat some with you!

  2. I have mashed turnips, too. THey are tangier (more tangy?) than potatoes. I kind of like them, but husband and son aren’t as impressed. I actually slice them and eat them raw, too. They might make a good addition to slaw.

  3. No ideas about what to do with turnips. I was wondering, though, with your super-long Alaskan days, do your plants grow super big? Or does it otherwise affect them?

  4. I oven-roasted the first turnip with some other veggies and fresh thyme, and it was–eh–okay. I thought the flavor was a cross between a carrot and a potato, except not quite so good.

    But then you and Shelly both mentioned mashing turnips, so I tried that with another one. By golly, that was pretty good. Amazing what some butter and milk can do, eh? I may actually *like* the crazy things.

    So I’m not pulling any out prematurely, which probably means sacrificing the carrots. However, many of the turnips are the recommended 2-3 inches in diameter so can be pulled anytime.

    I want to try substituting the turnips for a couple of other potato recipes. Nutritionally speaking, I wonder how potatoes and turnips compare. Anyone know, or do I have to look it up?