How to Prepare: Turnips

gardenmom2(IN Zone 6)March 7, 2009

Hi all. There are several veggies and herbs out there that I would love to grow but I have no idea what to do with it after I grow it. What I mean is, how do you prepare it, freeze it, can it, etc..... SO, I thought I would kinda start a weekly post. Each week (if I remember) I will post a new veggie and I would love for everyone to post their ideas of how to prepare it. The more the better. I thought I would start with turnips. For some of you, it may not be "different" but I did not grow up eating them, so I have no idea what to do with them. All help and tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated.

I also plan on including hot peppers, okra, beans (dry), pak choy, swiss chard, kale, soybeans, dif. winter squash's, etc. Some of these you will be like "what, that is a normalveggie." Like some of the diff. winter squashes. I grew up in a very plain plain home and we did not eat squash except for zucchini. REALLY. I have expaned this in my own family, but not as much as I would like. I would also love anyone's suggestions on other veggies to add and I will make a list. Then I will post a new one every saturday. I think this way, I will be more brave and grow many of the new things I have and want to grow but am afraid of getting left with veggies that I have no idea what to do with.

Thanks all. I hope this is a fun and informative conversation.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jaleeisa(6b Oklahoma)

Nichol, the only dumb question is the one not asked :) Don't feel badly about not knowing much about root veggies. To be honest, many families got away from eating the 'poor man's potatoes' a very long time ago. It was considered to be a social class thing if your family ate these root crops. Now people are re-learning how nutritious and just plain yummy they are as well as how easy they are to grow :)

For turnips, I'll start harvesting the leaves for greens when they large enough for me to cut and still leave about 2-3 inches on the plant. These I would store in the fridge, unwashed, until I'm ready to make greens. Then I would soak them in water for an hour or so, to loosen the dirt in the crevices, then thoroughly rinse with cool water before cooking. I cook mine Southern style. I take a small bit of bacon and start browning it to get a little oil in the bottom of the pan, then start stirring in my greens. When the pot is full, I put a lid on it and let them wilt. I'll simmer then for a little while, adding a bit of water if needed to keep them simmering in a small amount of juice- called pot liquor! Adding a bit of seasonings to taste. They look a lot like cooked spinach when done.

The greens can be stored in the fridge, unwashed for about 3-4 days. You can store them in a storage/freezer baggie. By the way, you can use the same storage and cooking directions for any of the greens- mustard, collard, turnip, spinach, kohlrabi, etc. And I'm sure other will have even more recipes than mine!

Now for the roots- I harvest mine when they're about 2-3 inches in diameter. Anything larger tends to get woody and isn't very palatable. They can be stored in a cool, dark place for about 3 months. Before storing, cut away any remaining stems and greens with a sharp knife because the greens continue drawing moisture from the root, drying it out and making it less storeable.

To cook them, I'll either peel and chip them into small pieces to steam/simmer with my greens, or I'll peel and cut them up and bake/boil them like potatoes. They can be mashed with butter, a bit of sugar to cut the sharp flavor they have. My kids like to use a bit of cinnamon on them too. A lot of people prefer to use garlic, dill and parsley with them. I do this as well, depending on what I'm making with them.

Rutabagas can be prepared the same ways as turnips, though I don't eat the greens from them. As far as turnips, rutabagas and parsnips, I generally treat turnips like potatoes, rutabagas like sweet potatoes and parsnips like carrots. You can bake them, though I do peel mine first and wrap them snugly in aluminum foil before putting them into the oven. I use them when making shiskabob on the grill as well. I just use them as a potato substitute. The flavors are slightly different, but in experimenting with ways to change the flavors you don't care for slightly when cooking, you'll find a way you're family will enjoy.

Hope this was helpful!


    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 11:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

hmmm...don't grow them and only tolerate a few fresh slices every so often, but found that one 'can' freeze their harvest too.

What a great thread! Thanks for starting it.


Here is a link that might be useful: How to freeze turnips and parsnips from your garden

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 11:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gardenmom2(IN Zone 6)

Thanks Kathy. Big help. How did you know one of my next questions was about greens??? LOL You always hear about using the greens but I never know how.. All I know about greens is spinach and lettuce in a reg. cold salad. So that was helpful, too. Thanks for expanding into other root crops too.

Any other ideas would be appreciated. I am copying these into a file so that at harvest time, they will hopefully be easy to find.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 4:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jaleeisa(6b Oklahoma)

Nichol, LOL, because everyone always asks about the greens! I had a new neighbor who was from the north a couple years ago who thought you had to wait to harvest the whole plant. He didn't realize that you could snip off the greens early. He saw the kids and I out harvesting turnip greens and asked what we were doing. So we explained and even harvested a couple of the small turnips to cook with our greens :)

Another way we enjoy greens is chopped up very, very finely and cooked with scrambled eggs. Or at harvest time, lots of different veggies from the garden- fried green tomatoes, fresh sliced red tomatoes, fried potatoes with red, yellow and green onions and different colored bell peppers(all fried items done in a least amount of canola oil we can use!)green beans or freshly hulled purple hull or black eyed peas, LOL, I'm getting hungry! But whatever we have coming out of the garden, along with fresh from the oven corn bread to sop up the pot liquors! Oh My! What a meal that is! No meat to speak of in it, though I do use a small amount of bacon to flavor the beans.. everything seasoned with fresh herbs,peppers and garlic from our garden. This is a special meal for our family. The kids get all excited because we have enough being produced from the garden to where we can have an entire meal grown completely in our garden. Though we preserve everything not immediately eaten, and have this meal several times over the course of the year, that one where everything is brought in fresh from the garden, prepared and eaten is a special one. I know it may sound a little odd to some people, especially since we're already eating from the garden at this point. But it's usually enough of something for a side dish for a meal, or enough to harvest and freeze. But that first meal straight from the garden at the height of the season is a really special one for us. And this year is will be even more of a "no grocery store day" as my kids call it. Cliff's aunt will be providing us fresh eggs from her hens and the corn meal is from their corn harvests last year and the bacon will be from a hog they butchered last year and is still frozen in my freezer. We may have to buy milk and the oil, but those are staple items, so I would have bought them anyway. So everything for that meal this year will be home produced either by us personally, or by DH's aunt and uncle in Stillwater.

LOL, just being able to say that is exciting! The kids' sense of self sufficiency is very high at that meal.

So, Nichol, now that I've rambled on, what is your next veggie?


    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 11:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gardenmom2(IN Zone 6)

Black eye peas !!!! It was on my list and you mentioned it above. I think you are a mind reader or something. I really love this and I hope others are too. I have always wanted to grow and cook these things, just did not know how. Now I do. Since you are soooo great I will mention a few of my others. Dry Beans. My mom did not like the and said they were a pain, so I can honestly say I have only even ha beans and cornbread 1 times. I don't know how to make it or any thing else with beans (dry). Swiss chard. Cowpeas, hot peppers. Besides eating/using banana peppers, green/colored ones and jalapeno's for salsa, I don't know what else to do with these. I know that is odd. Squash. Winter. Other than pumpkin, I am lost here, too. and I will also admit though I feel like an idiot, that I haveonly prepared a pumpkin for eating 1 time. The others are ued for decoration only b/c I just am not sure or hve not been taught what to do.

I will leave these for now and come up with more for my new "head chef, bestest chef friend". LOL

Thanks really, b/c these are all things I want to learn and decided that even if many think I am an idiot, I don't care and I want to learn. So, thans for all of your help and know how.

(I currently grow chard and collards forthe chickens every year and vow to try it and now I can).


    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 7:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jaleeisa(6b Oklahoma)

*chuckling* Well, not a head chef by any means, just a Southern cook with a large family!

Black eyed peas I will cook fresh, frozen or dried. They cook the same way with a couple small differences. After rinsing fresh shelled peas, I'll add water and simmer them for an hour or so until they are tender. Seasonings to taste, a little sauteed onion, maybe a little bell pepper, perhaps a little bacon or ham for flavoring. I also will just drop a ham bone into the pot.

Frozen, the same, though the temp starts out lower and they simmer a little longer to give them time to thaw completely.

Dried, depends on when I'm starting them. If the night before in my crockpot, I will just add the water and everything else, put them on low and let them cook all night and the next day. Check the water and how done they are first thing in the morning to decide if they need more water and how much longer they need to cook. We like ours just tender, but not mushy. I have a crockpot that I can set the cooking time on, after that, they just stay warm until we get home and are ready to eat.

If I'm cooking dried for that evening, I'll get my tap water as hot as possible, drop the beans in and let them soak, keeping the water at a simmer to gently rehydrate them. Then I'll bring the heat up and cook them. While I was between crockpots, I use to get the tap water as hot as possible, drop the peas in and cover them overnight to let them soak, rinse them, then start cooking them the following morning.

Notice that the only real differences in the way I cook them is whether the amount of time and whether or not they'll need soaked.

Serving them, there are a lot of different ways- peas and corn bread, pea salad, a spoon of peas on a green salad, etc.

Most dried beans can be treated the same way, though different beans and peas need different cooking times, may not need to be soaked, etc. Kidney beans, for example, I add beef or mixed beef/pork sausage to and let it simmer with garlic, onion, bell peppers and cayenne pepper, a few other seasonings and dried herbs and serve with rice- I grew up in SW Louisiana :)These I let cook a little longer because I want it to form thicker 'gravy' that coats and clings to the rice.

You can combine several different types of beans/peas to make bean soup. English split peas make a lovely creamy soup and there are several recipes for them.

Swiss Chard and collards I like to do the greens like I do any other greens. I'll either Southern pan fry them (which is more wilting with a very little oil) or use them in scrambled eggs or omelets or in salads as fresh greens, or on sandwiches to replace lettuce or stir fried with other veggies and perhaps a little chicken . All of these retain the nutritional value (yes, even the wilting, especially if you sop up or drink the pot liquor. Keep in mind that all leafy greens will shrink as they cook and wilt, so you will need what seems like an enormous amount is you're cooking them.

Cow peas I'm not as familiar with since we don't care for them much, aside from the purple hulls- these I do like black eyes.

Hot peppers can be used a number of ways. If they are big enough, they can be stuffed and oven baked or deep fried. My family likes cream cheese and cheddar to stuff them with, perhaps a little diced mushroom. Stuff them, then sew or tie them shut with a little turkey twine (you can find this where ever your store sells cooking gadgets)We also use them in salsa and in just cooking a variety of things. We also pickle them with vinegar and use the juice after it's set for a couple months in beans on the plate to taste. You can also grind them, add some vinegar and make home made hot sauces. You can also make pepper jelly or pepper chow chow with them.

Sweet peppers- banana, etc, I will often use as I would any bell pepper. A different flavor, but I often use them the same. I'll stuff and bake them with ground meat and rise or the cheese mixtures, I'll even stuff and serve them fresh - stuffing often depends on the size and how much time I have. They're also great cut fresh for salads, in Mexican dishes, with sandwiches, etc. Another way is to take your hot peppers and add banana peppers for pickling. This will give you the banana pepper flavor, with a little heat and kick! I've also pickled them by themselves to preserve them for the winter. I've dehydrated them in my oven like I do tomatoes (my alternative to sun dried tomatoes)After dehydrating, I'll make a dried salsa of tomatoes, a variety of peppers, garlic, onions and toss it all together in a freezer baggie. In the dead of winter I'll have homemade salsa with the addition of some lime juice, a little warm water and fresh cilantro from my window. I've used both sweet and hot peppers cut into strips and grilled (or pan grilled) to use for fajitas. Larger peppers can be oven or grill roasted, similar to garlic, and added to a variety of dishes.

I don't do a lot of winter squashes, we prefer summer squash, which I freeze in abundance and use a variety of ways. DH's Aunt pickles the winter ones, but I'm not as familiar with them except for perhaps Hubbard, which I've had baked. Hopefully someone else will chime in with ideas for many of the things your asking about and will have more info on the winter squashes.

Pumpkin is one that I am familiar with. We bake the pie sized ones into pies after preparing the puree. We've also stuffed and baked the smaller ones with a variety of things- ground beef and rice.. apples pears and brown sugar with a bit of nutmeg. They are rather versatile. And of course, there is roasted pumpkin seed! These are a favorite for my kids and they will eat them by the handful! We'll do them several different ways- tossing with a little olive oil and sprinkling with cinnamon, salt, a dash of red pepper, tossing with a bit of honey, ranch dressing mix, or Italian seasonings- these are fun to experiment with! The larger pumpkins, especially if they're thicker and tougher, chickens and livestock enjoy a lot! Horses adore melon rinds, but be careful to make sure they're ripe and to give them as a treat. Sometimes the rind can cause colic in horses. I'd check with my vet first about the type of melon.

Whew! That got long and I was tying to just give some ideas and not get into *all* the different ways I prepare these things! We eat a lot of veggies, fresh and preserved in one way or another. The kids really enjoy taking a handful of over dried cherry tomatoes and snacking on them like most kids do potato chips!

I'm hoping some of the others will chime in too! I'm always interested in learning new ways, or ones that I know about but am not as familiar with, to preserve or prepare the veggies I grow.

Ask away, Nichol! And everyone else, please jump in! I want to learn how others preserve and prepare! LOL, a lot of the things I do are things my grandparents and Daddy taught me and are wonderful, but I'm always looking for new or different ways!


    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 9:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gardenmom2(IN Zone 6)

Thank you sooo much Kathy. That is exactly the info I needed and wanted. Now, how do you freeze summer sq. I was not aware you could. I have tried to freeze zucchini. I grated it and froze it but it thawed kinda mushy. a big hunk of mush acually. For me, this is great and I hope others chime in too.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2009 at 7:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jaleeisa(6b Oklahoma)

I just wash it, slice and freeze like I would okra, etc. Shredding leaves it mushy. You can also pre-freeze individual slices on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, then bag them. I don't worry about that, I just slice and bag 'em, then pop them into the freezer. I've never had problems with mushy squash. If I want it chopped or julianned or shredded later for a recipe, I do it before completely thawing. You can also freeze them whole. I usually cut off the stem top and the bottom where the blossom was before freezing whole.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 10:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In addition to butter, salt & pepper, we add a bit of maple syrup to our mashed turnips and mashed winter squash. Tasty!
Winter squash (typically butternut) makes a very nice creamed soup and you can use almost any variety to make pie.
Turnips are delicious in beef, venison or moose stew!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 2:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

SO, I thought I would kinda start a weekly post. Each week (if I remember) I will post a new veggie and I would love for everyone to post their ideas of how to prepare it.

It's here is your reminder!

Sue...resident busy body...ya now!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 1:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gardenmom2(IN Zone 6)

Hi ya Sue. Thanks for the remindr. Lets talk squash. NOT ZUCCHINI. I know how to fix that, though I am sure we could ALL use more recipes for that LOL. I want to talk winte squash. I know howto use a pumpkin pie. Other than that, I am clueless. I have no idea how to use blue, hubbard, acorn, spagh. etc..... I have heard wonderful stories of baking pumpkin seeds, using spagh. squash as a spag. sub. but have never done it and would need step by step directions.

Should I just keep this post going or start a nw one miss Sue????

Thanks everyone for helping me and being my new buddies.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 2:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Should I just keep this post going or start a nw one miss Sue????
Miss Sue thinks it would be good/best to start a new one so the different veggies will all have their own thread. I'm looking forward to this next one!

(Miss) old

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 2:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gardenmom2(IN Zone 6)

I LIKE your title " MISS SUE". You kinda have your own "column" Miss Sue Said. LOL ( It is a manners thing, it could have been miss chemo, ??? LOL

I will start a new one.

Did not know you were lurking through the turnips. Glad you are.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 4:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
grovespirit(Zone 9)

Here's one of my favorite recipes that I use with fresh garden greens (such as turnip greens!)



* Can make ahead; stores well. Also fine to halve or double the recipe depending on how many lbs. of greens you have on hand. :)


1. 4 pounds (4 large bunches) seasonal garden greens. All of these can be used, singly or together: turnip, rutabaga, collard, endive, chicory, arugula, amaranth leaves, new zealand spinach, malabar spinach, catalogna, mustard, radish, chard, mature (not baby) spinach, beet greens, orach, broccoli leaves, sorrel, etc.- Soak greens 10 minutes or so in water to loosen dirt, then wash well.

2. 1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
3. 1 medium red onion, or 3 medium shallots, minced
4. 4 small to medium garlic cloves, minced
5. 1 pint heavy cream (Half and half can be used but is not recommended. If you use half & half it won't taste as good and also won't stand up as well to freezing.)
6. Sea salt or kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper
7. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)


0. Soak greens, and wash well as mentioned above.

1. Remove all parts of the greens- such as thick stems or big leaf ribs- that are tough. Make sure you still have 4 lbs. of greens after this; if not, go pick (or buy) some more. :)

2. Bring a very large stockpot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Add half of the mixed greens to the boiling water, a little at a time, and push them down into the water. Let the water return to a boil, then cook until tender, 6 to 10 minutes depending on what kind of greens you have. Using tongs, transfer the greens to the ice water. Repeat with the remaining greens.

3. Drain the greens very well and squeeze them dry in a kitchen towel, then cut finely into shreds with a kitchen knife. It's very important to shred them finely *before* you simmer them in the cream or they'll never get tender.

4. In a very large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion (or shallots) and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced in volume by half, about 25 minutes. Add shredded greens to the cream and toss until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve with an optional dash of nutmeg sprinkled on top.

Make-Ahead Note: The creamed greens can be refrigerated overnight, and this dish also freezes well.

Adapted from a "Food&Wine" recipe, to allow for mixed greens and a smaller garden size. Original recipe may be seen at URL below. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Food&Wine recipe

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 7:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
grovespirit(Zone 9)

Now to discuss what to do with the turnip roots!

Wash them, cut into cubes, then use in place of potatoes in stews, soups, meat pies, or roasts. Does best if cooked along with some other veggies such as carrots, onions etc.

Sometimes we will grate one finely, and throw it into our coleslaw, along with the shredded cabbage and carrots.

Also a good idea to julienne or slice them, then add to a stir fry with other veggies. :)

Also, they can be fried up into "fries" or hash browns as with potatoes, and served with some eggs at breakfast time. In my opinion this works better with the ones that have gotten a bit dried out from being in storage.

For the more adventurous cooks turnip roots can also be made into a Korean fermented dish called Kimchi or Kimchee. Works best with Asian turnips but any turnip will do as long as it is young, moist and tender, not dry or tough.

1. Wash roots very well and dry them. Slice into julienne, or into thin slices if you don't have time to julienne them.
2. Pack the julienned or thinly sliced roots into a large jar along with 2 to 4 crushed cloves of garlic, 1/2 to 1 TBSP minced ginger, 1 Tbsp paprika, and some crushed hot red peppers (Exactly how much garlic, ginger and hot pepper is up to you- depends how spicy you like your food).
3. Make a salt water broth by dissolving salt in hot water a teaspoonful at a time and tasting it periodically. The end result should be about as salty as seawater. Sea salt is best for this but any salt can be used.
4. Add 1 tsp. active yogurt or kimchi water from a previous batch of kimchi to the jar, this supplies the friendly cultures that will ferment the kimchi. Also add about 1 tsp. sugar to the veggies in the jar, to help speed the fermentation. (you can also use a little 7-up, honey, light karo syrup, or or ginger ale if you don't have sugar).
5. Pour the warm salt water broth over veggies in jar. Leave some room (about 1/2") at top of jar for the gases formed during fermentation.
6. Put jar lid on loosely and keep loosely covered at room temp for 2 to 3 days or until it starts to ferment, then put in fridge. (It can also go straight into the fridge but it will take a week or longer to ferment in there.)

This dish can also be made using thinly sliced, well washed turnip greens, and sometimes the turnip roots and greens are even mixed together and made into this dish! :)
Ready to serve when well-fermented.

Hope this helps you!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 8:26PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
NEWBIE ALERT! How do I get started when I have no seeds to trade ?
Anyone just want to share seeds for a SASE??
Mechelle Dunn
Wanted: Feverfew seeds
I am looking for feverfew seeds if anyone has any....
muscadine grape seeds
i have some muscadine grape seeds if anyone is interested...
Updated Tradelist
Seeds I have to trade: soybean multicolored limabean chocolatesweet...
Wanted: hens and chicks poppy seeds
For SASE or exchange, I have other seeds that I can't...
Sponsored Products
Contemporary Indoor/Outdoor Stair Tread: Natco Rugs Stratford Bedford Brown 9
$15.97 | Home Depot
Off The Vine Wine Table
$299.99 | Dot & Bo
Kraus KHU100-30-KPF2170-SD20 Single Basin Undermount Kitchen Sink with Faucet Mu
$599.95 | Hayneedle
Trellis Hearts Giclee Glow Black Bronze Table Lamp
$99.99 | Lamps Plus
Bahama Chevron Pouf
$79.99 | zulily
Landmann Haywood Protective Fire Pit Cover - 29370
$45.98 | Hayneedle
Metal 'Wild Wiener' Caution Sign
$7.99 | zulily
Parker House - Barcelona Glass Front Bookcase Library Wall with...
Great Furniture Deal
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™