Turnip
Overview
 
The turnip or white turnip (Brassica rapa
Brassica rapa
Brassica rapa L. , commonly known as turnip, turnip rape, field mustard or turnip mustard is a plant widely cultivated as a leaf vegetable , a root vegetable , and an oilseed .In the 18th century the turnip and...

var. rapa) is a root vegetable
Root vegetable
Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of...

 commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot
Taproot
A taproot is an enlarged, somewhat straight to tapering plant root that grows vertically downward. It forms a center from which other roots sprout laterally.Plants with taproots are difficult to transplant...

. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed
Fodder
Fodder or animal feed is any agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. Most animal feed is from plants but some is of animal origin...

 for livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

.
The most common type is mostly white-skinned apart from the upper 1–6 centimeters, which protrude above the ground and are purple, red, or greenish wherever sunlight has fallen.
Encyclopedia
The turnip or white turnip (Brassica rapa
Brassica rapa
Brassica rapa L. , commonly known as turnip, turnip rape, field mustard or turnip mustard is a plant widely cultivated as a leaf vegetable , a root vegetable , and an oilseed .In the 18th century the turnip and...

var. rapa) is a root vegetable
Root vegetable
Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of...

 commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot
Taproot
A taproot is an enlarged, somewhat straight to tapering plant root that grows vertically downward. It forms a center from which other roots sprout laterally.Plants with taproots are difficult to transplant...

. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed
Fodder
Fodder or animal feed is any agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. Most animal feed is from plants but some is of animal origin...

 for livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

.

Description

The most common type is mostly white-skinned apart from the upper 1–6 centimeters, which protrude above the ground and are purple, red, or greenish wherever sunlight has fallen. This above-ground part develops from stem tissue, but is fused with the root. The interior flesh is entirely white. The entire root is roughly conical, but can be occasionally global, about 5–20 centimeters in diameter, and lacks side roots. The taproot
Taproot
A taproot is an enlarged, somewhat straight to tapering plant root that grows vertically downward. It forms a center from which other roots sprout laterally.Plants with taproots are difficult to transplant...

 (the normal root below the swollen storage root) is thin and 10 centimeters or more in length; it is trimmed off before marketing. The leaves grow directly from the above-ground shoulder of the root, with little or no visible crown or neck (as found in rutabaga
Rutabaga
The rutabaga, swede , turnip or yellow turnip is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip; see Triangle of U...

s).

Turnip leaves
Spring greens
Spring greens are a cultivar of Brassica oleracea in the cultivar Acephala Group, similar to kale, in which the central leaves do not form a head or form only a very loose one...

 are sometimes eaten as "turnip greens" ("turnip tops" in the UK), and they resemble mustard greens
Brassica juncea
Brassica juncea, also known as mustard greens, Indian mustard, Chinese mustard, and leaf mustard, is a species of mustard plant. Subvarieties include southern giant curled mustard, which resembles a headless cabbage such as kale, but with a distinct horseradish-mustard flavor...

 in flavor. Turnip greens are a common side dish in southeastern US cooking, primarily during late fall and winter. Smaller leaves are preferred; however, any bitter taste of larger leaves can be reduced by pouring off the water from initial boiling and replacing it with fresh water. Varieties specifically grown for the leaves resemble mustard greens more than those grown for the roots, with small or no storage roots. Varieties of B. rapa that have been developed only for use as leaves are called Chinese cabbage
Chinese cabbage
Chinese cabbage can refer to two distinct varieties of Chinese leaf vegetables used often in Chinese cuisine. These vegetables are both related to the Western cabbage, and are of the same species as the common turnip...

. Both leaves and root have a pungent flavor similar to raw cabbage
Cabbage
Cabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea Linne of the Family Brassicaceae and is a leafy green vegetable...

 or radishes that becomes mild after cooking.

Turnip roots weigh up to about one kilogram, although they can be harvested when smaller. Size is partly a function of variety and partly a function of the length of time the turnip has grown. Most very small turnips (also called baby turnips) are specialty varieties. These are only available when freshly harvested and do not keep well. Most baby turnips can be eaten whole, including their leaves. Baby turnips come in yellow-, orange-, and red-fleshed varieties as well as white-fleshed. Their flavor is mild, so they can be eaten raw in salad
Salad
Salad is any of a wide variety of dishes, including vegetable salads; salads of pasta, legumes, eggs, or grains; mixed salads incorporating meat, poultry, or seafood; and fruit salads. They may include a mixture of cold and hot, often including raw vegetables or fruits.Green salads include leaf...

s like radishes.

Nutrition

The turnip's root is high only in vitamin C. The green leaves of the turnip top ("turnip greens") are a good source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K and calcium. Turnip greens are high in lutein
Lutein
Lutein is a xanthophyll and one of 600 known naturally occurring carotenoids. Lutein is synthesized only by plants and like other xanthophylls is found in high quantities in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale...

 (8.5 mg / 100g).

Nutritional information

1 medium raw turnip (122g) contains the following nutritional information according to the USDA:
  • Calories : 34
  • Fat: 0.12
  • Carbohydrates: 7.84
  • Fibers: 2.2
  • Protein: 1.10
  • Cholesterol: 0


Like rutabaga
Rutabaga
The rutabaga, swede , turnip or yellow turnip is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip; see Triangle of U...

, turnip contains bitter cyanoglucosides that release small amounts of cyanide
Cyanide
A cyanide is a chemical compound that contains the cyano group, -C≡N, which consists of a carbon atom triple-bonded to a nitrogen atom. Cyanides most commonly refer to salts of the anion CN−. Most cyanides are highly toxic....

. Sensitivity to the bitterness of these cyanoglucosides is controlled by a paired gene. Subjects who have inherited two copies of the "sensitive" gene find turnips twice as bitter as those who have two "insensitive" genes, and thus may find turnips and other cyanoglucoside-containing foods intolerably bitter.

Origin

The turnip was a well-established crop in Hellenistic and Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 times, which leads to the assumption that it was brought into cultivation earlier. Sappho
Sappho
Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet, born on the island of Lesbos. Later Greeks included her in the list of nine lyric poets. Her birth was sometime between 630 and 612 BC, and it is said that she died around 570 BC, but little is known for certain about her life...

, the 7th century BC
7th century BC
The 7th century BC started the first day of 700 BC and ended the last day of 601 BC.The Assyrian Empire continued to dominate the Near East during this century, exercising formidable power over neighbors like Babylon and Egypt. In the last two decades of the century, however, the empire began to...

 Greek poet, calls one of her paramours Gongýla, "turnip". Zohary and Hopf note, however, "there are almost no archaeological records available" to help determine its earlier history and domestication. Wild forms of the hot turnip and its relatives the mustards
Mustard plant
Mustards are several plant species in the genera Brassica and Sinapis whose small mustard seeds are used as a spice and, by grinding and mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, are turned into the condiment known as mustard or prepared mustard...

 and radish
Radish
The radish is an edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family that was domesticated in Europe, in pre-Roman times. They are grown and consumed throughout the world. Radishes have numerous varieties, varying in size, color and duration of required cultivation time...

es are found over west Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, suggesting their domestication took place somewhere in that area. However Zohary and Hopf conclude, "Suggestions as to the origins of these plants are necessarily based on linguistic considerations."

Cultivation

The 1881 Household Cyclopedia
Household Cyclopedia
The Household Cyclopedia was an American guide to housekeeping published in 1881.- External links :**...

gives these instructions for field cultivation of turnips:

The benefits derived from turnip husbandry are of great magnitude; light soils are cultivated with profit and facility; abundance of food is provided for man and beast; the earth is turned to the uses for which it is physically calculated, and by being suitably cleaned with this preparatory crop, a bed is provided for grass seeds, wherein they flourish and prosper with greater vigor than after any other preparation.

The first ploughing is given immediately after harvest, or as soon as the wheat seed is finished, either in length or across the field, as circumstances may seem to require. In this state the ground remains till the oat seed is finished, when a second ploughing is given to it, usually in a contrary direction to the first. It is then repeatedly harrow
Harrow (tool)
In agriculture, a harrow is an implement for breaking up and smoothing out the surface of the soil. In this way it is distinct in its effect from the plough, which is used for deeper tillage. Harrowing is often carried out on fields to follow the rough finish left by ploughing operations...

ed, often rolled between the harrowings and every particle of root-weeds carefully picked off with the hand; a third ploughing is then bestowed, and the other operations are repeated. In this stage, if the ground has not been very foul, the seed process.

The next part of the process is the sowing of the seed; this may be performed by drilling machines of different sizes and constructions, through all acting on the same principle. A machine drawn by a horse in a pair of shafts, sows two drills at a time and answers extremely well, where the ground is flat, and the drills properly made up. The weight of the machine ensures a regularity of sowing hardly to be gained by those of a different size and construction. From two to three pounds of seed are sown upon the acre (2 to 3 kg/hectare), though the smallest of these quantities will give many more plants in ordinary seasons than are necessary; but as the seed is not an expensive article the greater part of farmers incline to sow thick, which both provides against the danger of part of the seed perishing, and gives the young plants an advantage at the outset.

Turnips are sown from the beginning to the end of June, but the second and third weeks of the month are, by judicious farmers, accounted the most proper time. Some people have sown as early as May, and with advantage, but these early fields are apt to run to seed before winter, especially if the autumn be favorable to vegetation. As a general rule it may be laid down that the earliest sowings should be on the latest soils; plants on such soils are often long before they make any great progress, and, in the end, may be far behind those in other situations, which were much later sown. The hot turnip plant, indeed, does not thrive rapidly till its roots reach the dung, and the previous nourishment afforded them is often so scanty as to stunt them altogether before they get so far.

The first thing to be done in this process is to run a horse-hoe, called a scraper, along the intervals, keeping at such a distance from the young plants that they shall not be injured; this operation destroys all the annual weeds which have sprung up, and leaves the plants standing in regular stripes or rows. The hand hoeing then commences, by which the turnips are all singled out at a distance of from 8–12 inches, and the redundant ones drawn into the spaces between the rows. The singling out of the young plants is an operation of great importance, for an error committed in this process can hardly be afterward rectified. Boys and girls are always employed as hoers; but a steady and trusty man-servant is usually set over them to see that the work is properly executed.

In eight or ten days, or such a length of time as circumstances may require, a horse-hoe of a different construction from the scraper is used. This, in fact, is generally a small plough, of the same kind with that commonly wrought, but of smaller dimensions. By this implement, the earth is pared away from the sides of the drills, and a sort of new ridge formed in the middle of the former interval. The hand-hoers are again set to work, and every weed and superfluous turnip is cut up; afterward the horse-hoe is employed to separate the earth, which it formerly threw into the furrows, and lay it back to the sides of the drills. On dry lands this is done by the scraper, but where the least tendency to moisture prevails, the small plough is used, in order that the furrows may be perfectly cleaned out. This latter mode, indeed, is very generally practiced.

Human use

Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 considered the turnip one of the most important vegetables of his day, rating it "directly after cereals or at all events after the bean
Bean
Bean is a common name for large plant seeds of several genera of the family Fabaceae used for human food or animal feed....

, since its utility surpasses that of any other plant." Pliny praises it as a source of fodder
Fodder
Fodder or animal feed is any agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. Most animal feed is from plants but some is of animal origin...

 for farm animals, and this vegetable is not particular about the type of soil it grows in and because it can be left in the ground until the next harvest, it "prevents the effects of famine" for humans (N.H. 18.34).
The Macomber turnip is featured in one of the very few historic markers for a vegetable, on Main Road in Westport, Massachusetts
Westport, Massachusetts
Westport is a town in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 15,532 at the 2010 census.The village of North Westport lies in the town.- History :...

.

In Nordic countries, turnip was the staple crop before its replacement with potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

 in the 18th century. The cross between turnip and cabbage
Cabbage
Cabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea Linne of the Family Brassicaceae and is a leafy green vegetable...

, rutabaga
Rutabaga
The rutabaga, swede , turnip or yellow turnip is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip; see Triangle of U...

, was possibly first produced in Scandinavia.

In Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, particularly in the area near Adana
Adana
Adana is a city in southern Turkey and a major agricultural and commercial center. The city is situated on the Seyhan River, 30 kilometres inland from the Mediterranean, in south-central Anatolia...

, turnips are used to flavor şalgam, a juice made from purple carrots and spices served ice cold. In Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon, turnips are pickled
Pickling
Pickling, also known as brining or corning is the process of preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine to produce lactic acid, or marinating and storing it in an acid solution, usually vinegar . The resulting food is called a pickle. This procedure gives the food a salty or sour taste...

.

In Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, pickled turnips are also popular and are sometimes stir fried with salt/soysauce. And the turnip leaf is included in the ritual of the Festival of Seven Herbs, called suzuna.

In England, around 1700, Turnip Townshend promoted the use of turnips in a four-year crop rotation system that enabled year-round livestock production.

In the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, stewed turnips are eaten as a root vegetable in the Autumn and Winter. The leaves or "greens" of the turnip are harvested and eaten all year. Turnip Greens are cooked with a ham hock or piece of fat pork meat, the juice produced in the stewing process is prized as "pot liquor". Stewed turnip greens are often eaten with vinegar.

In the Tyrolean Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 of Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, raw shredded Turnip root is served in a chilled remoulade
Remoulade
Remoulade or rémoulade, invented in France, is a popular condiment in many countries. Very much like the tartar sauce of some English-speaking cultures, remoulade is often aioli- or mayonnaise-based. Although similar to tartar sauce, it is often more yellowish , often flavored with curry, and...

 in the absence of other fresh greens as a winter salad.

Turnip lanterns are an old tradition; since inaugural Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

 festivals in Ireland and Scotland, turnips (rutabaga
Rutabaga
The rutabaga, swede , turnip or yellow turnip is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip; see Triangle of U...

) have been carved out and used as candle lanterns. At Samhain
Samhain
Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer...

, candle lanterns carved from turnips — samhnag — were part of the traditional Celtic festival. Large turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces and placed in windows, used to ward off harmful spirits. At Halloween in Scotland in 1895, masqueraders in disguise carried lanterns made out of scooped out turnips.

Laurie Lee
Laurie Lee
Laurence Edward Alan "Laurie" Lee, MBE was an English poet, novelist, and screenwriter, raised in the village of Slad, and went to Marling School, Gloucestershire. His most famous work was an autobiographical trilogy which consisted of Cider with Rosie , As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and...

, in "Cider with Rosie", an autobiography of a childhood in the Cotswolds, mentions the Parochial Church Tea and Annual Entertainment, which took place around Twelfth night. "We...saw his red face lit like a hot turnip lamp as he crouched to stoke up the flames."

In Iran, boiled turnip roots (with salt) are a common household remedy for fever.

In the Punjab and Kashmir regions (India, Pakistan), turnips are used in variety of dishes. The most famous of these dishes is shab-daig.

Heraldry

The turnip is an old vegetable charge
Charge (heraldry)
In heraldry, a charge is any emblem or device occupying the field of an escutcheon . This may be a geometric design or a symbolic representation of a person, animal, plant, object or other device...

 in heraldry
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

. It was used by Leonhard von Keutschach
Leonhard von Keutschach
Leonhard von Keutschach was Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg from 1495 until his death, the last to rule in the feudal style.- Biography :...

, prince-archbishop of Salzburg. The turnip is still the heart shield in the arms of Keutschach am See
Keutschach am See
Keutschach am See is a town in the district of Klagenfurt-Land in Carinthia in Austria.According to the 2001 census 5.6% of the population are Carinthian Slovenes....

.

See also

  • Daikon
    Daikon
    Daikon , Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus, also called White Radish, Japanese radish, Oriental radish, Chinese radish, lo bok and Mooli , is a mild flavoured, very large, white East Asian radish...

  • Radish
    Radish
    The radish is an edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family that was domesticated in Europe, in pre-Roman times. They are grown and consumed throughout the world. Radishes have numerous varieties, varying in size, color and duration of required cultivation time...

  • Rapini
    Rapini
    Rapini Rapini Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rabe (or Raap or Raab), Broccoletti, Broccoli di Rape, Cime di Rapa, Rape, Rappi, Friarielli (in Naples) is a common vegetable in the cuisines of southern Italy (in particular Basilicata , Puglia, and Sicily), Galicia (northwestern Spain), and China...

     (broccoli rabe)
  • Rutabaga
    Rutabaga
    The rutabaga, swede , turnip or yellow turnip is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip; see Triangle of U...

  • Turnip Prize
    Turnip Prize
    The Turnip Prize is a spoof UK award that satirises the Tate Gallery's Turner Prize by rewarding deliberately bad modern art. It was started mainly as a joke in 1999, but has gained national media attention and inspired other similar prizes...

  • Turnip Townshend
  • Nanakusa-no-sekku
    Nanakusa-no-sekku
    The Festival of Seven Herbs, or Nanakusa no sekku , is the long-standing Japanese custom of eating seven-herb rice porridge on January 7 .The nanakusa are seven edible wild herbs of spring...


External links

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