“It augmentith the seed of man and provoketh carnel lust”

Sir Thomas Elliot on turnips, 1539


Normal turnips, in my view, really are for livestock – but baby turnips are something else – a sort of friendly radish! The aphrodisiac properties mentioned by Thomas Elliot, however, have yet to be proven…

They’re only in season in June and July so enjoy them while you can.

How to cook baby turnips

for two

  • 6-8 baby turnips
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp grainy mustard (the mustard just reinforces the zinginess of the turnips)
  • ½ tsp smoked salt and about four grinds of white pepper
  1. get a saucepan of water boiling – just enough to cover the turnips
  2. trim off the green neatly, about an inch above the top, chop off the root and clean. If you are being extra professional turn with a turning knife
  3. drop the turnips into the boiling water for about seven minutes.
  4. refresh under cold water and cut in half vertically, and return to the saucepan.
  5. Just before serving reheat, toss with the butter, honey, mustard, salt and pepper for a couple of minutes to glaze.


What can you do with baby turnips?

IDEA 1: make a starter salad with turnips cooked as above, rocket or shredded blanched and refreshed savoy cabbage, and a beetroot crisp garnish

IDEA 2: add to pasta or rice (Nigel Slater suggests orzo pasta which I think would be rather nice) together with fried mushrooms, banana shallots, shredded rocket and an extra glurp of olive oil

IDEA 3: fry bacon, garlic, banana shallot, boil some new potatoes, cut the potatoes to be about the same size as the turnips (cooked as above). Mix with mayonnaise and dill

History of cooking turnips

mesopotamian food

The symbol for beer is an upright pointed jug… and for eating a human head with a triangular object… but where does it say about the turnips?

People have been cooking turnips for a long time…. first recorded in fact in Mesopotamia in 1600 BC when they were gorily cooked in blood (animal blood one hopes…).

Random thought on turnips

A random, and rather nice, thought about turnips… from one of Thomas J Fudge’s excellent and unusual baked products – see the image of their packaging below.

turnip recipes

What raindrops are to turnips? Why not parsnips… or swedes?

And another charming quote about turnips:

“on rainy days he sat and talked for hours together with his mother about turnips”

Mark Twain, Roughing It


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