In Season: Turnips


[Flickr: Esteban Cavrico]

In season from October through March, turnips are a root vegetable characterized by a white spherical shape, a crowning blush of purple, and a leafy green stem. First cultivated in prehistoric times, turnips gained popularity during the Middle Ages as a main vegetable for the poor.

Turnip recipes, tips, and ideas, after the jump.

In 1730, British politician Charles "Turnip" Townshend imported Dutch-grown turnips. He wanted to see if turnips could sustain livestock during the winter. His experiment was a success, and for a time, turnips were mainly used as food for beast instead of man. But they've since made their way back into the kitchen for their delicious taste and versatility.

When selecting turnips, look for a firm and and blemish-free exterior with vibrant green tops, which are often removed and sold separately. Larger turnips tend to be woody, so try to select smaller ones. When preparing turnips for cooking, slice off the root end. Larger turnips should be peeled, but smaller turnips—those less than two inches in diameter—can be cooked without peeling. Because of their high water content, turnips deteriorate quickly. Store, unwashed, in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week. Turnips are perfect for the holidays, so we have compiled a list of our favorite recipes below.