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What Is a Turnip?

A turnip is the edible taproot of the Brassica rapa subspecies rapa, similar to other taproot vegetables like beets, radishes, parsnips, and carrots. They grow straight down in one single structure, which serves as the nutrient storage unit of the plant. The name ‘turnip’ comes from the Old English “turned neep” — that is a neep (root veggie) turned on a lathe (hence the circular striations on its surface that run parallel to the ground).

The turnip is a comparatively large root veggie, often reaching three inches in diameter at its thickest. Both the leaves and root are edible, although to some palates they can taste fairly harsh, or at least intense. Turnip greens are earthy and slightly spicy, similar to leafy greens such as arugula and mustard greens.

Typically, the turnip root is somewhat bitter, with spicy, radish-like flavor notes, though a good turnip that’s spent some time in cold soil can actually be surprisingly sweet. So when it comes to taste, don’t put all your turnips in one seasonal basket (so to speak) — save some for a truly hard frost to sweeten them up. When cooked, some of the starches turn to sugar, also giving turnips a sweeter, earthier taste.

If you recognize the “Brassica” part of their botanical name, you’ll realize that turnips are members of the cruciferous family, which also includes kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, and many other vegetables.

(Excerpt taken from the Food Revolution Network)

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