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Jun 10, 2009 10:04 AM

Explain turnips, please!

I only started eating turnips in the last few years, sparked by my wanting to experiment with other things that I could toss into my chicken soup. Then I starting experimenting with coupling them with other vegetables for sauteing.

But lately I'm puzzled. Although they look pretty much the same when I'm shopping, some prove to be tough, almost woody, and some prove to be honeycombed and porous. Is this from getting stale? I thought turnips were the kind of root vegetable that people used to keep in their cellar to get them through the winter. Is there a trick to choosing them, or to storing them?

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  1. Now, we get them waxed after the autumn harvest, because few of us have root cellars. (Here in Florida, a root cellar is not a possibility). There is a subtle stem in a turnip that is a bit stringy; cut around it, like a mango seed. Smaller ones are less likely to have the softness you don't want.
    There is no trick to choosing them. Whether you dig them or purchase them, just keep your cool, and the turnips, too.

    1. "Honeycombed and porous" Rutabagas and Turnips indicate the vegetables have been harvested late in the season. Turnips don't get stale, they get old.... They are generally cool weather veggies, though a second planting is usally made in order to have a Spring crop. My guess is that you are buying old vegetables. Old Rutabagas and Turnips get woody. Here in the Northeast I find the Rutabagas are waxed for retail as Veggo mentioned. That .lengthens the storage time. Usually the Turnips are unwaxed.tho sometimes they are as well. Wrinkled skin on the vegetables are a sign of age....LOL, Choose Rutabagas and Turnips that are smooth, firm and heavy for their size.

      1. Don't buy bigger - older - ones. If you're not buying from the megamart ask you veggie vendor if he/she knows whether the offerings are current crop or last year's...

        1. "I thought turnips were the kind of root vegetable that people used to keep in their cellar to get them through the winter."

          Absolutely. But it's now June - these are probably just very old.

          Where I am, in northern Europe, it won't be long before the new crop starts to be around - small turnips - great for roasting.