This is the first year we have grown turnips. Our purpose for growing them is threefold. We wanted another source of food for ourselves and our livestock. The versatility of this crop provides two sources of food, the turnip bulb and the greens. The hardiness of this crop in our location, zone 7, will provide us with greens for much of the winter, both for us and the animals.
We haven’t eaten very many turnips in our lives, actually very few. They are apt to have a bitterness to them if not picked and cooked in a way to minimize that flavor. Needless to say, I haven’t had a lot of experience cooking them, but I have found a couple of ways to fix them that are okay. Not bad, but edible.
First, I used the recipe that our friend, Grace, showed me. Add a little salted water in a pan. Peel and cut up the turnips. Boil long enough for them to becomes soft, then add a few tablespoons of butter. As the liquid cooks down, sprinkle in a little cornmeal to thicken. Right before serving, sprinkle in a little sugar to help cut the bitterness. This recipe is pretty good. I find the smaller turnips taste better, and they are better after a few frosts, like my gardening books indicated.
We have also baked peeled, and cut up turnips with carrots, onions and potatoes. I put a little butter in the pan, added the vegetables, and baked until soft. We find that we enjoy them more if they aren’t the only vegetable on the plate.
So, what nutrients do turnips include? 1 cup of turnips cubes, cooked, boiled, drained with salt have the following nutrients.
- calories 34.3
- carbohydrates 7.9g
- protein 1.1g
- vitamin C, K
- omega-3 & 6 fatty acids
From this small patch of turnips, I have been harvesting greens for the chickens almost every morning, with few exceptions, for almost two and a half months. I expected them to die down once we started having temperatures below freezing, but that has only slowed them down. I figured the night we got down to 17 degrees, that would do it. Nope. They are still growing leaves left and right.
So the next thing I needed to learn, is how to cook turnip greens. A woman at church fixes them for our monthly potluck meals this time of year, so I picked her brain for her recipe. She told me there isn’t really a recipe, so she just talked me through it.
Then, add a little bacon grease and let them cook. Sprinkle with a little sugar right before serving to help cut the bitterness. That’s it.
Well, my greens were okay, but there are definitely things I need to do different next time. I added too much bacon grease, for one. Two, I needed to let them cook longer, and at a higher temperature. After I had added the grease and the water had cooked out, I lowered the burner and put a lid on the skillet to let them cook, stirring occasionally. I cooked them this way for about 10 to 15 minutes. I knew they needed to cook for a while, but wasn’t sure how long.
This pan full of leaves, turned out to be two very small helpings. And, that was okay, because they weren’t the best greens in the world. Next time, I will tweak my technique and hope they turn out better.
What was the nutritional value of these greens? Just as with the turnips, the nutrients included in the butter and bacon grease are not a part of this analysis. 1 cup of turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained with salt include the following nutrients.
- calories 28.8
- carbohydrates 6.3g
- protein 1.6g
- vitamins E, C, K
- omega-3 & 6 fatty acids
If I were figuring the nutritional content of turnips and greens for the chickens, I would be looking at raw instead of cooked nutrients. But that will be another post.
I find it fascinating to be able to grow food that will continue producing in the winter in our location. In an emergency, short term or long term, this could be another source of food for us as well as our animals. The opportunity we have been given to learn to grow and utilize a variety of foods is a gift I am truly thankful for. You may not want to grow turnips, but there is something that you’ve been wondering about. Something that will be of benefit to you and yours. Go learn it, figure it out and be able to use it. With the way things are going now days, you just never know when you may need to use your new found knowledge and skills. So get busy.
Until next time – Fern