Turnips aren’t well-known in the culinary world, and their brilliant greens are even less prominent. Turnip greens can be added to braised and sautéed recipes to enhance flavor and texture.
What are Turnip Greens?
Turnip greens are the turnip’s tops, which are dark, leafy green. The gardens of this plant are typically abandoned, but they are edible, used in various dishes, and may be prepared similarly to other lettuces and tough leaves. Turnip greens are made from the leaves of the Brassica rapa plant, which grows turnips.
The Brassicaceae family comprises broccoli, cabbage, and mustard, among other vegetables. It has been grown for about 4,000 years. The ancient Greeks and Romans valued the root and the leaves of the turnip and produced and bred a variety of new types.
Plantation owners in the 18th and 19th centuries kept the turnip roots for themselves and gave the leaves to their slaves. Many of the enslaved people were from West Africa, and their traditional cuisine included a variety of greens, including turnip greens, which became a substitute.
These greens are still a popular element in Southern regional cooking today. In Europe, turnips and their gardens are also popular. However, turnip consumption has declined since the widespread acceptance of imported potatoes in the 19th century.
Turnip greens are smaller, more sensitive than typical greens like collard or mustard, and have a milder flavor. They can be used in almost any recipe that calls for fresh spinach or other greens, and they make a delicious addition to casseroles like vegetarian lasagna. Gardens can be sautéed rapidly or with other veggies or grains. Washed greens can be kept fresh for three to four days in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator.
Turnip greens come in as wide varieties as turnips, ranging from Purple Top to White Tokyo Cross to Golden Ball. All of these have edible leaves with a bulb flavor. The Hakurei, a little white turnip with thinner greens that are sweeter than larger types, is one of the most popular turnips you’ll see on the market.
What to do with Turnip Greens?
Use the entire plant of turnips with brilliant green leaves emerging from the top. Remove the turnip root, then rinse, dry, chop, and boil the greens like kale or collards, seasoning with salt, bacon, butter, lemon, cider vinegar, or anything else that will help break down the greens’ strong cellular walls.
Because these leaves have a peppery zing (similar to mustard greens or arugula), they work well in Southern-style meals and give a nice bite to stir-fries, quiches, and stews. Turnip greens wilt well and become tender when cooked or stewed for a lengthy time, making them a good addition to soups. They’re harsh and fibrous when eaten raw, so don’t consume them that way.
What do Turnip Greens Taste Like?
Turnip greens have a similar flavor to the root, so expect peppery tones in the fall greens and a brighter zip in the soft spring turnip leaves. Turnip greens aren’t as spicy as mustard greens, and the itch from this green vegetable passes rapidly, unlike capsicum heat.
I hase various flavors, ranging from mild and slightly sweet to peppery and somewhat bitter. Everything hinges on when they’re harvested. The softer the taste, the younger the plant. A peppery taste reminiscent of extra-mild arugula develops as the plants mature. Consider using younger greens in uncooked foods such as salads, depending on your preferences. Cooked greens recipes will benefit from the mature leaves.
If you’re unsure what to expect from the greens in terms of flavor, The Spruce Eats recommends thinking of the flavor of turnip root (if you’ve tasted turnip). Those collected in the spring have a lighter, more refreshing flavor, while leaves harvested in the fall have a more peppery blast. However, it is not a hot pop like capsicum heat, and it’s a subtle, pleasant sensation on your tongue that rapidly fades away.
Are Turnip Greens Good for you?
Turnip greens are nutrient-dense while being low in calories. Turnip greens are at the top of the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, a scoring system that ranks foods based on nutrients per calorie (1,000 on a scale of one to 1,000). (via Simply Fresh).
That’s the kind of nutritional bang for your calorie buck we’re interested in. According to Medical News Today, turnip greens are high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and significant amounts of vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin K.
We can confirm that turnip greens enhance cardiovascular health, healthy skin and hair, and bone health without too much detail. Turnip greens also help to regulate blood sugar levels and include antioxidants that help the body fight free radicals that can cause problems such as cancer.
Healthy skin and hair
Because of their high vitamin, A content, turnip greens can help maintain healthy skin and hair. Vitamin A is required to develop all human tissues, including skin and hair, and it also aids in creating sebum, which keeps the hair hydrated. Vitamin C is necessary for forming and maintaining collagen, which gives skin and hair structure.
It is also beneficial to the immunological system. Iron deficiency can cause hair loss. A healthy diet of iron-rich foods like turnip greens can prevent this. A shortage of iron in the diet might also damage the body’s ability to use energy properly. Iron-rich foods include turnip greens, spinach, lentils, and collard greens.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in developed countries and a leading cause of anemia. Eating foods high in vitamin C with iron-rich foods maximizes the body’s ability to absorb iron. Turnip greens alone are an excellent source of both vitamin C and iron.
According to experts, low vitamin K and calcium intakes have been linked to an increased risk of bone fractures. Vitamin K improves bone health by increasing calcium absorption, lowering calcium excretion in the urine, and acting as a modulator of bone matrix proteins.
Vitamin A, phosphorus, and magnesium benefit bone health and can be found in turnip greens. One 55-gram cup of raw turnip greens contains 138 micrograms of vitamin K, exceeding the daily requirement. Turnip greens also have the greatest calcium level per gram of fruit or vegetable.
Cancer prevention and treatment
Nutrients in turnip greens and other cruciferous vegetables may help prevent cancer. Sulforaphane, a sulfur-containing molecule, is responsible for the bitter taste of cruciferous vegetables. Sulforaphane appears to have some anti-cancer properties as well. Early studies indicate that the chemical can block the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC, whichh is known to have a role in cancer cell development.
This could make sulforaphane-rich diets effective in the prevention of cancer.
Heterocyclic amines, related to several malignancies, can be produced by grilling foods at high temperatures. Green veggies as a side dish may assist in counteracting these effects. Turnip greens are high in the antioxidant vitamin C, which can help prevent the development of free radicals known to cause cancer.
People with type 1 diabetes who eat high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels. In contrast, people with type 2 diabetes may have better blood sugar, lipids, and insulin levels, according to studies. Turnip greens have high fiber content, at 5 grams per cup. Up to 50, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. Afterward, ladies should consume 21 g, and males should consume 30 g daily.
Studies on alpha-lipoic acid showed reductions in diabetic peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy. It may help persons with dementia and those who have had a stroke by protecting brain tissue. It may benefit from glaucoma, sun-damaged skin, multiple sclerosis, and migraines.
Turnip greens are high in fiber and water content, which help prevent constipation, promote regularity, and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Where to Buy Turnip Greens?
Turnip greens are difficult to come by on their own, and not every supermarket stocks turnips with stems attached, especially in the winter. Turnips are frequently sold whole, with the greens still attached, in farmers’ markets, and these are the best and freshest alternatives.
Turnip greens are difficult to come by on their own, and not every supermarket stocks turnips with stems attached, especially in the winter. Make certain that any gardens you do obtain are truly green. If they’ve turned yellow, they’re past their peak and won’t be very good to eat.
Turnips are frequently sold whole, with the greens still attached, in farmers’ markets, and these are the best and freshest alternatives. Choose little turnips since they are the newest, have the sweetest flavor, and have the greatest texture. They should be robust and weighty for their size, with no nicks or cuts. Greens should be highly colored and fresh if they are connected.
Maintain turnips’ greens attached for as long as possible to keep them firm and spot-free. The leaves will begin to wilt far faster than the turnip itself, so utilize the green first.
Wash and cover them in a damp paper towel or cloth to extend their life. Avoiding the bulbs (which don’t like dampness when stored). To maximize the shelf life of raw turnip greens, refrigerate them in a plastic bag. Turnips will keep for 4 to 5 months in the refrigerator.
What are the Risks of Green Turnip?
People taking blood thinners such as Coumadin or warfarin should avoid consuming large amounts of vitamin K-containing foods in a short period since it affects blood clotting and may interfere with the drug’s function.
Inadequately stored nitrate-containing vegetable juice may amass microorganisms that convert nitrate to nitrite, a potentially hazardous chemical that can taint the juice. Before beginning a high-nitrate diet, anyone at risk of cardiovascular disease should consult their doctor.
Because nitrate can produce vasodilation, a high-nitrate diet may interact with pharmaceuticals like organic nitrate, also known as nitroglycerine, or nitrite therapies used to treat angina, as well as sildenafil citrate, tadalafil, and vardenafil.
The complete diet or general eating pattern is most significant in disease prevention and good health. It is preferable to have a varied diet rather than focusing on a single meal as the key to optimum health.
Turnip greens are high in nutrients like vitamins C, E, B6, and K and minerals like copper, calcium, and manganese. Because one of the beta-purposed carotenes supports the healthy function of the immune system, it may be protective against rheumatoid arthritis. Turnip greens contain vitamins C and E, which act together to delay free radicals that can cause joint injury. Calcium in leafy greens may help to prevent or halt bone loss. It could also help the body maintain healthy membranes, such as the synovial membrane that lines joints.
These greens may benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis since copper is required to develop connective tissue destroyed by the inflammatory illness. Turnip greens also include dietary fiber, which aids not only in the regulation of excretion but also in the maintenance of colon health.