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Turnip

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Turnip

For similar vegetables also called "turnip", see Turnip (disambiguation).
Turnip
turnip roots
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: B. rapa
Variety: B. rapa var. rapa
Trinomial name
Brassica rapa var. rapa
L.

The turnip or white turnip (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa) is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock.

In the north of England and Scotland, turnip (or neep; the word turnip is an old compound of neep) refers to the larger, yellow rutabaga root vegetable, also known as the "swede" (from "Swedish turnip").[1]

Description

The most common type of turnip 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 (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 rutabagas).

Turnip leaves are sometimes eaten as "turnip greens" ("turnip tops" in the UK), and they resemble mustard greens in flavor. Turnip greens are a common side dish in southeastern U.S. 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 the use of leaves are called Chinese cabbage. Both leaves and root have a pungent flavor similar to raw cabbage 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 salads like radishes and other vegetables.

Nutrition

Turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 84 kJ (20 kcal)
4.4 g
Sugars 0.5 g
Dietary fiber 3.5 g
Fat
0.2 g
1.1 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.
(48%)
381 μg
(42%)
4575 μg
8440 μg
Thiamine (B1)
(4%)
0.045 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(6%)
0.072 mg
Niacin (B3)
(3%)
0.411 mg
(5%)
0.274 mg
Vitamin B6
(14%)
0.18 mg
Folate (B9)
(30%)
118 μg
Vitamin C
(33%)
27.4 mg
Vitamin E
(13%)
1.88 mg
Vitamin K
(350%)
368 μg
Trace metals
Calcium
(14%)
137 mg
Iron
(6%)
0.8 mg
Magnesium
(6%)
22 mg
Manganese
(16%)
0.337 mg
Phosphorus
(4%)
29 mg
Potassium
(4%)
203 mg
Sodium
(2%)
29 mg

Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Turnips, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 92 kJ (22 kcal)
5.1 g
Sugars 3.0
Dietary fiber 2.0 g
Fat
0.1 g
0.7 g
Vitamins
Thiamine (B1)
(2%)
.027 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(2%)
.023 mg
Niacin (B3)
(2%)
.299 mg
(3%)
.142 mg
Vitamin B6
(5%)
.067 mg
Folate (B9)
(2%)
9 μg
Vitamin C
(14%)
11.6 mg
Trace metals
Calcium
(3%)
33 mg
Iron
(1%)
.18 mg
Magnesium
(3%)
9 mg
Manganese
(3%)
.071 mg
Phosphorus
(4%)
26 mg
Potassium
(4%)
177 mg
Sodium
(1%)
16 mg
Zinc
(1%)
.12 mg

Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

The turnip's root is high 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 (8.5 mg / 100 g).

One medium raw turnip (122 g) contains the following nutritional elements according to the USDA:[2]

  • Calories : 34
  • Fat: 0.12
  • Carbohydrates: 7.84
  • Fibers: 2.2
  • Protein: 1.10
  • Cholesterol: 0

Like rutabaga, turnip contains bitter cyanoglucosides that release small amounts of cyanide. 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

There is evidence that the turnip was domesticated before the 15th century BC; it was grown in India at this time for its oil-bearing seeds.[3] The turnip was a well-established crop in Hellenistic and Roman times, which leads to the assumption that it was brought into cultivation earlier. Sappho, a Greek poet from the 7th century BC, 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 and radishes are found over west Asia and Europe, 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."[4]

Cultivation

The 1881 Household Cyclopedia gives these instructions for field cultivation of turnips in the USA:

Turnip (flower)
A bundle of Tokyo turnips.

As a root crop, turnips grow best in cool weather; hot temperatures cause the roots to become woody and bad-tasting. They are typically planted in the spring in cold-weather climates (such as the northern US and Canada) where the growing season is only 3–4 months. In temperate climates (ones with a growing season of 5–6 months), turnips may also be planted in late summer for a second fall crop. In warm-weather climates (7 or more month growing season), they are planted in the fall. 55–60 days is the average time from planting to harvest.

Turnips are a biennial plant, taking two years from germination to reproduction. The root spends the first year growing and storing nutrients, and the second year flowers, produces seeds, and dies. The flowers of the turnip are tall and yellow, with the seeds forming in pea-like pods. In areas with less than 7 month growing seasons, temperatures are too cold for the roots to survive the winter months. In order to produce seeds, it's necessary to pull the turnip and store it overwinter, taking care not to damage the leaves. During the spring, it may be set back in the ground to complete its life cycle.

Human use

Pliny the Elder considered the turnip one of the most important vegetables of his day, rating it "directly after cereals or at all events after the bean, since its utility surpasses that of any other plant". Pliny praised it as a source of fodder for farm animals, noting that this vegetable is not particular about the type of soil in which it grows and, because it can be left in the ground until the next harvest, it "prevents the effects of famine" for humans.[5]

Carrot and Turnip output in 2005
Macomber turnip historic marker

The Macomber turnip (actually a rutabaga) dating from the late 19th century features in one of the very few historic markers for a vegetable, on Main Road in Westport, Massachusetts.

In England, around 1700, Turnip Townshend promoted the use of turnips in a four-year crop-rotation system that enabled year-round livestock production.[6]

In the south of England the smaller white vegetables are called turnips, while the larger yellow ones are referred to as swedes. In the USA, turnips are the same, but Swedes are usually called rutabagas. In Scotland, Ireland, northern England and parts of Canada, the usage is confusingly reversed, with the yellow vegetables being called turnips or neeps, and the white ones swedes. Neeps are mashed and eaten with haggis, traditionally on Burns Night.[7]

Turnip lanterns are an old tradition; since inaugural Halloween festivals in Ireland and Scotland, turnips (rutabaga) have been carved out and used as candle lanterns.[8] At Samhain, 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.[9] At Halloween in Scotland in 1895, masqueraders in disguise carried lanterns made out of scooped out turnips.[10]

In Nordic countries turnips provided the staple crop before their replacement by the potato in the 18th century. The cross between turnip and cabbage, rutabaga, was possibly first produced in Scandinavia.

In Turkey, particularly in the area near Adana, 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.

In Japan pickled turnips are also popular and are sometimes stir fried with salt/soysauce. Turnip greens are included in the ritual of the Festival of Seven Herbs, called suzuna.

In the United States, stewed turnips are eaten as a root vegetable in the autumn and winter. The greens of the turnip are harvested and eaten all year. Turnip greens may be cooked with a ham hock or piece of fat pork meat, the juice produced in the stewing process prized as pot liquor. Stewed turnip greens are often eaten with vinegar.

In the Tyrolean Alps of Austria, raw shredded turnip-root is served in a chilled remoulade in the absence of other fresh greens as a winter salad.

In Iran, boiled turnip-roots (with salt) are a common household remedy for cough and cold.

In the Punjab and Kashmir regions of India and Pakistan turnips are used in variety of dishes, most notably shab-daig.

In Brazil, turnips (nabos) are traditionally regarded as distasteful, or at least somewhat disagreeable and unpleasant at the first bite or taste.[11] Part of this bias reportedly stems from the Middle Ages, where, for the reason of being inexpensive, turnips became in Iberia (and thus in Iberian-descended cultures) associated with the poor, and avoided in the diet of the nobility.[12]

Heraldry

The turnip is an old vegetable charge in heraldry. It was used by Leonhard von Keutschach, prince-archbishop of Salzburg. The turnip is still the heart shield in the arms of Keutschach am See.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Smillie, Susan (25 January 2010). "Are 'neeps' swedes or turnips?". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/
  3. ^ "Turnip - Brassica Rapa". Self Sufficientish. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p. 139
  5. ^ N.H. 18.34
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Smillie, Susan (2010-01-25). "Are 'neeps' swedes or turnips?". The Guardian. 
  8. ^ The Oxford companion to American food and drink p.269. Oxford University Press, 2007. Retrieved February 17, 2011
  9. ^ Arnold, Bettina (2001-10-31). "Bettina Arnold – Halloween Lecture: Halloween Customs in the Celtic World". Halloween  
  10. ^ Frank Leslie's popular monthly, Volume 40, November 1895, p. 540
  11. ^ The flavor of the turnip – Culinary Almanac (Portuguese)
  12. ^ Discovering the benefits of the turnip (daikon), undispensable to the milenar tradition of the Japanese cuisine – This is Japan! Living and Learning (Portuguese)

External links

  • Multilingual taxonomic information from the University of Melbourne
  • Alternative Field Crop Manual: Turnip
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