How to Store Turnips

While turnip greens should be consumed within a few days of harvest, turnip roots can be stored for days, weeks, or even months with the right harvesting and preparation.
 kohlrabi on wooden board

kohlrabi on wooden board

Botanical Names: Brassica rapa

Roots and leaves of turnips (Brassica rapa) are easy to grow in nearly any part of the country, both spring and fall in many areas, as highly nutritious vegetables. The plants are easy to grow and mature fast enough to harvest within two months of sowing seed.

Turnips grow best in full sun, in moist, well-drained fertile soil, and when thinned and eaten small as they grow, leaving more room for the others to develop larger roots. Turnips thrive in cool weather, and actually get sweeter with frosts; roots get tough and bitter in hot weather, and hard freezes can kill the plants.

Turnips are harvested as leafy greens, as a mix of small turnip roots and greens, and as greens, or as larger mature roots for storage. Harvest by snipping two or three older leaves at a time from plants, and keeping the greens in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or by pulling or digging plants entirely and cutting off the leaves before storing the roots.

Unlike the smooth leaves of rutabagas, turnip leaves have tiny hairs which collect dirt, small insects, and even pesticides easily; they will need good washing both right after harvest and before cooking, with two or three changes of water between soakings.

How to Store Turnips

Gardeners in areas where hard freezes are not common can simply leave them in the ground, covered with hay or other mulch to keep the sun and rain off them. However, keep in mind that deer love browsing turnips, so harvest earlier where deer are common.

Once turnips are harvested, immediately twist or cut off the tips to keep them from pulling moisture from the roots. Rinse the greens in cool water, shake off excess moisture and store for up to four or five days in plastic food storage bags in the refrigerator.

Knowing how to store turnip roots depends on their size and maturity. Small roots can be refrigerated for two or three weeks. Large, mature roots can be sorted to remove cut or blemished ones, then kept a few at a time in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or so. Spread those to be stored longer in a single layer in a box with some damp newspaper or sawdust to keep them humid. Place the box in a cool, dark, unheated garage, basement, or root cellar, and check frequently to remove those that are losing quality.

Freeze turnip roots by washing, peeling, and cutting them into half inch cubes, then blanching in boiling water for two minutes. Chill quickly in cold water and freeze immediately in freezer bags. They should keep fine for 8 to 10 months.

Finally, the question of how do you store turnips is for folks who grow too much at one time; the best way to have crispy, sweet turnips and greens the longest, is to sow fresh seed every two or three weeks during the growing season to keep fresh new ones coming along.

Next Up

When to Harvest Turnips

Turnips can be pulled and eaten any time after they start growing really well but are completely mature and ready to harvest within six or eight weeks of planting. They can be stored for weeks or even months if harvested correctly.

When to Plant Turnips

Turnips are cool-weather plants that can be sown in late winter, spring, or late summer to give them the two months they need to mature before it gets too hot or freezes.

Turnip Plants

Turnips have a rich history and interesting health benefits, and can be grown easily in spring or fall home gardens.

Turnip Seeds

Sowing and saving tiny turnip seeds is fun, easy, and helps you grow some of the most interesting heirloom varieties for planting year after year.

Growing White Turnips

Turnips with white roots are both easy to grow and valued for their tenderness and sweetness, with some compared with apples for their lack of classic turnip tanginess.

Growing Turnip Greens

In many cultures, including the Southeast US, turnips are grown as much for their tasty, highly nutritious leaves, called “greens” as for their roots. Here are a few tips to get the most out of turnip greens.

Growing Yellow Turnips

Turnips with yellow flesh are neither hard to find nor hard to grow, though the much more common cousins are very similar in taste and texture.

Types of Turnips

Turnip varieties go way beyond the standard old Purple Top and white Tokyo Cross, to include surprising range of sizes, shapes, colors, flavors of both roots and leafy greens, and time they take from seed to table.

Purple Top Turnips

Varieties of turnips with white roots topped with purple are among the most popular of all, and are easy to grow in small spaces in home gardens.

Growing Turnips

For thousands of years, colorful turnips and their leaves have been an easy-to-grow staple cool-weather vegetable with few pests or problems.

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