Thursday, January 5, 2012

Turnips and turnip greens

I'd never eaten a turnip or turnip greens before moving to the Southeast almost three decades ago (growing up in Texas didn't put us in the turnip green belt).

But then, my parents were from California and weren't gardeners, and it was a era that vegetables weren't exactly front row and center.

But I discovered kale, mustard, and turnip greens living in Southeast Georgia, and have been a fan ever since.

I've grown lots of kale, collard, and mustards, but haven't grown turnips, but my colleague sowed some Purple Top seed late last summer in the kitchen garden next to the visitor center (at the botanical garden where I work).

We've harvested quite a few of the greens to contribute to our local food bank, including many of the turnips, which had sized up nicely last fall.

But, a number were left in the ground (supposedly, turnips 'sweeten' with frost), and this was the largest of the bunch, harvested this afternoon.

Turnip on grocery bag
 Yikes, this turnip is on a LARGE grocery paper bag (not a lunch bag).  It was big.
An extra-large turnip
But amazingly, it wasn't woody, and roasted, it was quite tasty. Summer turnips are often fibrous and bitter, but not this one, and its greens were edible, too.   We may be able to harvest the rest for the food bank, after all!


  1. I've had a similar experience, where growing up in Oregon we rarely even had spinach much less the rich leafy greens popular in the south (where I also live now!). My favorites are the radish greens out of the garden but mustard greens and kale tie for second place.

  2. Being a Georgia native and from a farm family, I grew up with turnips, etc. But in my last CSA box here in WI was a turnip variety with which I wasn't familiar-- Sweet Scarlet. It's a beautiful, well, scarlet color. I haven't tried it yet but our farmer thinks it's much better tasting than the purple top variety. I'll let you know once I get around to cooking it but for aesthetic, it can't be beat.

  3. Jenny, I haven't warmed up too much to radish greens so far, but maybe I need to give them another try.

    And, Corrie, please do send me info on the Sweet Scarlet variety -- sounds great!


  4. I tried the scarlet turnips too, and they are gorgeous (red round from Baker Creek)! I thought they might be a good variety for making the pink Lebanese pickles (usually you add a beet to color them)--it is an experiment in progress).
    I've been spreading this recipe from 101 Cookbooks around--a great use for extra greens:


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