We often confuse turnips and rutabaga, but they’re actually quite different! For more information on rutabaga, visit our Rutabaga article.
Turnips are root vegetables that are a creamy white on the outside with a purple blush on top. Inside they have a white flesh. They have bright green leaves that are edible and great in a salad, sautéed, or even in soup. They taste like a cross between radish and cabbage; they have a great zip to them like radishes, but a mellow sweetness like cabbage.
How to Select
Turnips can be sold with or without their greens in grocery stores. If you plan on eating the greens, pick turnips that are firm and unblemished with bright and perky greens. Avoid any with wilted leaves or stems. However, if you plan on just eating the roots, the conditions of the greens don’t matter.
Young turnips are small and tender. Occasionally they will have not developed the purple blush. These are slightly sweeter and are better to eat raw than the larger, more mature turnips. Bigger turnips can be hard, but are great to use in roasting, soups, or added to mashed potatoes or carrots.
Pick turnips that are firm, unblemished, and have a nice, bright blush to them.
How to Store
If there are greens attached, cut the greens and store separately for up to a week in a plastic bag in the fridge. Store trimmed, raw turnips in the fridge, loosely in a plastic bag. They can stay good for up to two weeks. Like most root vegetables, they are best stored in a cool, dark place.
How to Prepare
To clean turnips, use a soft scrub brush under running water to clean out any soil left in the crevices of the turnips.
Young turnips have a thin, tender skin and do not need to be peeled. You can dice or chop to add to soups, slice for salads, or cut into wedges to roast.
Mature turnips may have a tougher skin that needs to be peeled, but the skin will soften when roasted. However, if boiling, sautéing, or adding to soup, we recommend peeling first.
Quarter, cut into wedges, or chop turnips before steaming, sautéing or roasting to make them cook faster and easier to eat.
Save the greens for a salad or soup and use like any other leafy green like kale or swiss chard.
How to Freeze
First peel and cut the turnips into quarters. Prepare a pot of boiling water and blanch for about 2-3 minutes. Submerge in an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Drain and roughly pat dry. Spread onto a baking sheet and flash freeze. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight bag and use within 9 months.
The most common turnips are either white, or white with purple blush. You may see heirloom varieties of turnip that have a green or yellow blush to them.
- The zippy flavour of turnips is what makes them great when paired with other mellow root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and parsnip.
- Slice young turnips or cut into matchsticks to serve as a crudité.
- Add turnips to mashed potatoes to add extra flavour and nutrition.
- Don’t overcook turnips when blanching before you freeze: three minutes to blanch is good enough to make sure they preserve well in the freezer.
What does turnip well with?
Produce: potatoes, carrots, parsnip, apples, sweet potatoes, lemon, and onion
Herbs & Spices: chives, sage, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, garlic, ginger, vinegar, tarragon, mustard, thyme, olive oil, paprika, and salt
Savoury: bacon, roast beef, turkey, chickpeas, and rice
Dairy: butter, cream, parmesan cheese, and mild cheese
Serve them sautéed in a stir fry with some carrots, mashed with potatoes, steamed with other root vegetables, raw and sliced thin in a salad or into matchsticks for a crudité, or roasted with other root vegetables.
According to the Canadian Nutrient File and the daily-recommended nutrient intake breakdown from Health Canada, 100g of cooked turnips contain 32% of vitamin C, 8% of fibre, 6% of vitamin B6, 5% of potassium, 4% of folate, and 3% of calcium.