Turnip is a root vegetable that takes two years to complete a lifecycle. During the first year of life, turnip develops the part that is edible, in the second year producing flowers and setting seed.
Having a round shape and a white flesh, turnips are also found purple or yellow on the outside.
Both the root and the leaves of the vegetable are edible, although they are considered two different foods. Turnips can be consumed in different ways, and the most popular dishes are stews followed by soups and mashed turnips.
How best to consume turnips
As a root vegetable, turnips are more popular during the winter season, and in American households, they are preferred as a more flavored alternative to mashed potatoes.
To cook mashed turnips: peel and cube the vegetable along with some potatoes, and then simmer until soft and tender. Drain the vegetables in a colander.
Separately, sauté shallots with a choice of spices in butter until tender, add milk, and slightly simmer.
Return turnips to the pot to mash adding the milk little by little. Season with salt and pepper.
A standard recipe, mashed turnips are a lighter side dish to various meat meals and a healthy option for children. Turnips can, however, be cooked in many other ways:
- Filling for pasties
- Baked in tin foil
- Vegetable beef stew
- Stew with turnips and chicken
- Turnip and sausage stew
- Creamy soup
- Butternut squash and turnip soup
- Crispy fried
How nutritious a turnip?
Turnips’ nutritional value has been acknowledged since many years. The low fat and low calories content make it a perfect food when dieting, but turnips should be consumed as often as possible for a number of reasons.
- They have anti-inflammatory properties.
- They protect against cancer and various types of tumors.
- They help fight atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.
- They help maintain a healthy lung.
- They can help heal broken bones.
- They contribute to the production of connective tissues in the body.
- They protect the immune system.
- They help with maintaining good blood pressure level.
- They improve digestion.
- They reduce the risk of cognitive deterioration.
What’s in a turnip?
100 g of turnip contain a significant amount of various relevant nutrients. Vitamin C, potassium and fiber are among the most important, but turnips also contain a high amount of vitamin K, vitamin B9, calcium, and magnesium.
Nutrients in turnip
Dietary fiber 1.8 g
Vitamin K 368 µg
Calcium 137 mg
Folate 118 µg
Vitamin E 0.03 mg
Vitamin C 21 mg
Thiamin 0.040 mg
Riboflavin 0.030 mg
Pyridoxine 0.090 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.200 mg
Niacin 0.400 mg
Potassium 233 mg
Sodium 39 mg
Zinc 0.27 mg
Manganese 0.134 mg
Magnesium 11 mg
Iron 0.30 mg
Copper 0.085 mg
Interesting facts about turnips
There are quite a few, but probably none more interesting or scarier than the traditional Jack O’Lantern of Ireland carved of turnips.
According to Irish mythology, a man named Jack O’Lantern, who was not allowed in heaven or hell due to an understanding or a trick more likely that he played on the devil, was sent to roam the earth into eternal night accompanied only by a carved turnip with a burning coal inside it to light his way.
People then started carving turnips to ward off the spirit of the wandering traveler along with all the other evil spirits that roamed the earth.
Other interesting facts to know:
- Turnips may have been eaten from as early as prehistoric times.
- They come from Western Asia.
- They were popular with the Romans.
- European colonists brought the vegetable to America.
- Many farmers grow turnips to feed animals.