Learn Why These Will Be Your Favorite New Vegetable

“Wow, what are these?!”

This is the single thing (well, actually next to “your carrots are the best carrots I've ever had”) that I've heard the most from customers over the past 14 years of farming.

You might not have ever heard of this kind of veggie, but yet...

People come from all over Central Maine to join our CSA farm share program and use our preorder buying club to learn new veggies with the goal of eating healthy.

Yep, people LIKE being pushed to try new things and broaden their taste horizons.

Can you guess what the most popular unfamiliar veggie is for people??

Here are some clues:

  • They're pearly white...
  • and crunchy...
  • and sweet...
  • and tender...




What are “salad turnips”?

Did you notice the word “salad” in front of the scary word “turnips”? Because you don't know how many people tell me how they “don't like turnips.”

BUT those same people LOVE these!

Why? Because they're a whole different animal (or vegetable!?) from the classic turnip from the grocery store.

Salad turnips, also called Japanese Salad Turnips, are small, round, clean white roots sometimes sold with their long bright edible greens still attached.

They are available from local farms in Central Maine typically in the early part of the season, June-July, as well as often in the fall and early winter, September-November.

Compared with the classic turnip (or what we call Purple Top Turnip), salad turnips have less starch, more tender flesh, and more water content in them, making them juicier tasting.



How to use Salad Turnips

Salad turnips are just that! They can be used raw in a salad, or cut up into strips to use as snacks with or without dip. They can be grated into kimchi or sliced to be pickled.

And salad turnips can also be cooked! They're great in a stir-fry, soup, and roasted. They can be sauteed by themselves in a little butter and garlic. Or even mashed!

Kids and adults alike love them eaten out of hand like an apple!

All in all, salad turnips are amazingly versatile.



How to grow Salad Turnips

So, you want to try them?? If you're not a customer of our farm, you can grow salad turnips yourself, as they are exceedingly easy to grow and quick maturing.

There are a few varieties of salad turnip seed on the market. The most common ones are 'Tokyo Market Turnip' or 'Tokyo Cross'. The one we grow from Johnny's goes by 'Hakurei' salad turnip.

They don't take up much room in the garden as you can get quite a few from a small space. Also they mature in about 40 days which means you can get another crop in before them if you plan to fall sow or after them if you plan to spring sow.

As they are a cool weather crop, they're best planted in spring (as early as the ground can be worked through June in Central Maine) or fall (August in Central Maine).


Instructions to grow salad turnips:

  1. prepare your bed for small seeds to be put directly in (no big clumps of soil)
  2. sow them at about 1-2 seeds per inch, cover with about 1/4" of soil, and water
  3. keep them weeded
  4. and harvest!

The only trick to growing turnips as with other members of the Brassica family is that the flea beetles love their leaves and will chew them up and make them ratty looking. To prevent this with no sprays, cover your turnips while they are growing with row cover fabric that keeps out bugs but lets in light, air, and water. Here is a blog post all about how to use row cover

Harvest when they're 1-3 inches across, wash, and enjoy! Don't forget those greens are good for ya, too!



Our Farm Family's Favorite Recipes for Salad Turnips

To be honest, the go to way to use salad turnips at our house is simply raw cut up into sticks with a dip.  (Want ideas for yummy homemade dips to go with?!  Check out this blog post.)

And if I get to cooking them here is our family's absolute favorite way to use them:


Amber’s Turnip Soup with Greens & Bacon

This recipe is courtesy of a CSA member and it is loved by many.  Enjoy!

  • 2 strips bacon, cut into ¼” pieces
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil
  • 1-2 scallions or ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch turnips, roots chopped into bite size pieces, greens washed and chopped, tough stems discarded
  • ¼ lb. mushrooms chopped (optional)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oil in pot on stove to medium. Add bacon and scallion/onion. Saute until softened about 5 minutes. Add turnips, greens, optional mushrooms, and broth. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until turnips are tender about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


And don't forget to check out our website's "online recipe book" page on salad turnips here.  You are bound to find something you love there!


What is your favorite way to use salad turnips?  Please share here so we can get inspired!  Thank you!

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Comments (1)

Salad Turnips are a favorite in our house! Our favorite way of using them in cooking is in a stir fry but are just as yummy sliced thin and used as a chip with a hummus dip.