Friday, January 27, 2012

A Tale of Two Turnips

A while ago, my family bought some kind of weird pasture grass mix and planted it. It included turnip seeds. Apparently turnips are a great grazing crop. The tops are nutritious and the sheep and horses eat the roots like apples. I had thought about seeing how they tasted before, but didn't actually do anything about it until today. My sister and I went out and found a couple that the horses hadn't taken a bite out of. (I'm trying to write that sentence without ending in a preposition, but it sounds so awkward) One was double sized and looked like it could have been two stuck together.

I brought them home and looked up turnips in my big exhaustive Joy of Cooking. It didn't have a mashed turnip recipe without mashed potatoes in it as well (something about taking the "edge" off...hopefully that's not really necessary), so I checked online and found one. I washed the mud (and whatever else might have been there, given that they were in a horse pasture) from the turnips. Being the genius that I am, I cleaned the kitchen sink before washing them.

I peeled them and chopped them up. I tasted a little piece raw and thought it was ok. I boiled it in a pot until soft, and drained it. Then I threw some milk and Smart Balance in. After starting into it with the electric mixer, I realized I should have waited on the milk, since it seems the turnip pieces were holding quite a bit of water. The result was a very watery puree. I tasted it and thought it was a little bitter (so maybe Joy of Cooking was right). I seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder. It was ready early, so in an effort to cook some of the liquid off I put it in the oven for a while.

The result: it looked good. In quantities larger than a little forkful while cooking, however, I found I couldn't eat it. Though it was still a little bitter for him, N could eat it. He even liked it better than Brussels sprouts. According to this article, the varying degree of bitterness a person tastes in turnips has to do with the gene that regulates the ability to detect cyanide. So the bad news is, I can't stand turnips. I guess the goods news is that if someone ever attempts to poison me with cyanide a la Agatha Christie I have a better chance of detecting it before it's too late.

These were very large turnips and the bitterness may have something to do with that (if anyone knows anything about that, let me know). It was an interesting experiment. I don't think that I will be making them again, but I'm glad I gave it a try.


  1. I wonder too if these were more bitter from their growing environment or seeds? I don't know, but mine were much more vibrantly purple and white. Course, that could be the pesticides...

  2. Or maybe they are a different variety. I don't know. How did yours taste?

  3. hahaha. your Agatha Christie reference made me laugh.