How to Harvest and Store Turnips

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Garden shears
Mulch of straw, leaves, and branches

Turnips are a delicious vegetable with edible greens and roots. Their ability to thrive in cool weather makes it possible to plant these vegetables at a time when others won't grow. They are most commonly planted early in spring before the last frost and in late summer or early autumn.

Turnips grown in your garden or in containers can be harvested within 35 to 60 days of planting. Follow these steps to collect and store home-grown turnips.

Step 1 - Harvest Turnip Greens

The greens of the turnip grow on top of the soil, and they will be ready for harvesting halfway through the growing season for the roots. So, if your roots take 45 days for harvest, your greens should be ready after about 22 days. Gather the greens when they are about four to six inches long by cutting them off within an inch of the bottom with shears. These will actually grow back after cutting, so one plant may yield several sets of turnip greens.

Step 2 - Store and Prepare Turnip Greens

Turnip greens will last about one week in the refrigerator unless placed in a vacuum sealed container. This is the most nutritious part of the plant and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. As such, many people use them in salads and stir fry dishes.

Step 3 - Harvest Turnip Roots

The roots of turnips should be harvested when they are between two to three inches in diameter; think of a golf ball or tennis ball for a visual. To collect them, dig a couple inches around the plant with a shovel, being sure not to stab into the roots. Pierced roots will not be able to be stored with less than an inch of stem.

Turnip roots should also be dug up while they are young and tender, as waiting too long will produce a tough and woody root with an overly strong taste. A light frost can also improve the taste of turnip roots.

Step 4 - Store Turnip Roots

Turnip roots can be stored in a refrigerator crisper drawer for several months, at temperatures between 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Another common way to store turnips is in a root cellar covered in sawdust. You can store them under the ground until you are ready to use them. Just cover the plants with a heavy, layered mulch of straw, leaves, and branches.

Step 5 - Eat Your Turnips

Turnip roots can be eaten raw (they are good in salads) or prepared as you would a potato. For example, boiling turnips and mashing them with butter and herbs is a delicious and easy way to serve them. Turnip roots can also be boiled, steamed, stir-fried, stewed, deep-fried, baked, grilled, or broiled, and cooked roots can even be frozen without a problem.