In our “Evening meals” classes the students have asked me to show them some uses for more uncommon or not often used items. This week we’ll be looking at the humble Turnip.
The Truth About Turnips
Turnips are one of the oldest cultivated root crops in the world, because of this they’ve also been used as currency. Turnips are one of those vegetables that we seem to have pushed aside because of our lack of understanding.
You can find Turnips in April, May, June, July and August.
When shopping for turnips choose the ones that are small and firm and have a clean, smooth surface and flesh. If you have a fear of turnips, buy baby turnips to start, then move up to the tennis ball size as your fear diminishes. Anything bigger than a tennis ball and you’ll get bitter woody specimens. If you see a bunch of white firm baby turnips with their greens attached, get them, they’re easy to prepare and won’t disappoint.
To prepare baby turnips, leave around 2 – 3 cm of the greens attached, clean well with a pairing knife to remove any dirt. You can use the leaves in stir-fries and salads (providing they are tender enough). To save the greens you can do the same with them as I’ve shown you with herbs, wash well, remove as much water as you can then wrap in a paper towel or clean kitchen cloth.
To prepare larger turnips, just peel, chop or slice.
What you can do with your turnips
If they are clean and white, you don’t even need to peel them. Eat them raw, pickle them, stir-fry, simmer, roast or bake. Another fantastic versatile veg.
When cooking turnips don’t overcook them, or you will lose the sweet flavour they have. Although turnips are a member of the mustard family if you pick young fresh turnips, the bitter taste will be less, and it will mellow even more on cooking.