Turnip (Brassica rapa)

Turnip (Brassica rapa) is a root vegetable in the family Brassicaceae, usually grown in temperate climates around the world. It is also known as white turnip and is cultivated for its white, bulbuous root. There are two varieties, the small and tender type is grown for human consumption, while the larger variety is grown as fodder crop. Turnip is related to the mustards and radishes.

The white-skinned turnip is the most commonly grown turnip. The entire root is white-skinned except for the upper 1-6 cm of the root which protruded above the ground and is purple, red, or greenish in color. Turnip is usually conical shaped, but can be round like a tomato-shaped, about 5-20 cm in diameter, without side roots. The taproot is thin with length of about 10 cm or more. These taproots are trimmed off before marketing. The leaves of the turnip are grown directly from the above-ground shoulder of the root.

The leaves are usually eaten as turnip greens, and the flavors are resemble mustard greens. They are a common side dish in the traditional southeastern US cuisines, especially during late autumn and winter. Young leaves are preferable as they lack the bitter taste that older leaves carry. The bitterness can be reduced by boiling. Varieties that are grown for the leaves are with small or no storage roots, and resemble more like mustard greens than those grown for the roots. These varieties are known as Chinese cabbage.

Turnip roots weigh up to one kilogram each, and can be harvested when they are smaller. The variety and growing time determine the size of the turnip. Baby turnips are specialty varieties that are grown for their very small turnips. Baby turnips do not keep well and are available when freshly harvested. They come in white-, yellow-, orange-, or red fleshed varieties, and can be eaten whole, including their leaves. Baby turnips are mild-flavored, and can be eaten raw in salads.

Turnip' s root is high in vitamin C, and the leaves are a good source of vitamin A, C and K, folate and calcium. The turnip greens are also high in lutein, a natural occuring carotenoid.

Turnip (Brassica rapa)Turnip (Brassica rapa)
Author: thebittenword.com (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

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