The Humble Turnip

Last month it was Brussels sprouts. February’s new produce pick is the turnip!

One of my goals this year is to try one new food each month from the produce section of the grocery store, as there are many items that I’ve been hesitant to try. Thank you all for your tasty Brussels sprouts tips last month via the Facebook comments section!

Now on to turnips.

Image by gate74 from Pixabay

All I knew about turnips was that they grew underground, and there is an old children’s folktale about an enormous turnip. Do you remember that one? It goes something like this:

An old man planted a turnip, and it grew and grew and grew until it was gigantic. When he went to pull it from the ground, it was too big!

His wife came and pulled on him while he pulled on the turnip, but it was still stuck. The old woman called their granddaughter, and she pulled on the old woman, but the three of them were still not strong enough.

The girl called the dog, who pulled on her as she pulled on the grandmother, who pulled on the grandfather. Still no luck. The cat came and pulled on the dog, and still the turnip was stuck fast.

Finally the mouse joined in and pulled on the cat, who pulled on the dog, who pulled on the girl, who pulled on the grandmother, who pulled on the grandfather, and voila! The turnip came out of the ground!

It’s a great story for kids, encouraging them to get help and work together when things are too big or too hard for them to do alone, as well as the fact that no one is too small to make a difference. I think grownups could still benefit with those reminders now and then!

Now back to the humble turnip.

What do you know about it? Most likely more than I did before today! Here are a few tidbits for you:

  • They are closely related to radishes and arugula.
  • They can be eaten raw, just like radishes!
  • Turnip greens can be sautéed in butter or oil
  • Check out The Spruce Eats for more . . .

When I was in college, my grandparents bought me my first cookbook: The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook. It’s so handy that I still use it over 30 years later! Imagine my surprise when I looked up turnips and saw only one recipe. Well, it hasn’t let me down in 30 years, so that one recipe must be the one to start with!

You’ll be happy to know it didn’t let me down. Here it is:

Mashed Turnips


  • Water
  • 2 1/2 pounds turnips, peeled and diced
  • 4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. In 1 inch of boiling water, heat turnips to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. Mash turnips. Add butter or margarine, salt, sugar, and pepper; stir until well mixed. Garnish with chopped parsley.

My conclusion: of course it was delicious–it uses butter, salt and sugar, which are three of my favorite ingredients! I will definitely be adding mashed turnips into the menu rotation in the fall, winter and spring months.

How many of you like to eat turnips? If you do, what is your favorite way to prepare them?

Please share in the comments below, and expand our horizons a bit!

One thought on “The Humble Turnip”

  1. I like Turnips. I haven’t eaten any in years. In the South, they call turnips rutabagas. My mom used to cook them with carrots getting the sweet taste from the carrots and mixed with the tart taste of the turnips made for a nice vegatable blend.

    Liked by 1 person

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