The time of year is not the only thing that determines whether or not you should harvest your turnips. There are other factors such as soil type, weather conditions, and even the season itself.

Harvesting Turnip Roots: How And When To Harvest Turnips?

When it comes to harvesting turnips, there are many things to consider. You need to decide which ones you want to pick first before deciding what kind of roots you will harvest next.

There are several different types of turnips that grow in the garden. These include purple top turnips (Prunus spp.), red tops, green tops, yellow tops, and white tops. All these kinds of turnips have their own specific characteristics that determine if they are ripe enough to harvest or not.

Purple Top Turnip: What Is It?

A purple top turnip is one of the most common varieties of turnip grown in gardens today. They are usually used as a vegetable and not eaten raw. Purple top turnips are known to be very high in vitamin C and potassium. Some studies suggest that eating them may lower blood pressure.

How Do I Know If My Turnip Is Ready To Be Harvested?

You need to wait until all the leaves have fallen off your turnip before picking it because the leaves contain seeds inside them. The leaves also contain bacterias. They need to be removed before eating the roots. Once all the leaves have fallen off, dig it out of the ground. If your turnip has lots of greens attached to it then you should leave it in the ground.

You can tell if your turnip is ready to be harvested because it will have small greens that come out of the middle part of the root. These are called turnip tops. Due to their high water content, the stalks of these greens will be soft and limp. They will be dark green in color and will wilt easily if they are touched. The roots themselves should not have any greens attached to them when you harvest them.

What To Do If My Turnips Have Greens Attached To Them?

This means that your turnips have not matured enough yet. You should leave these turnips in the ground and wait for them to ripen some more. Once they are ripe enough, you should harvest them and eat them.

Is It Okay To Pick My Turnips Before All The Leaves Fall Off?

It is okay to pick your purple top turnips before all the leaves fall off. The leaves will not be attached to them. Just make sure that they have small greens coming out of their tops.

How Do I Store My Turnips And For How Long?

Purple top turnips can be stored for up to a year if they are kept in a cool, dark and dry place. Place them in a loose plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator. They should keep fresh for up to three months.

You can also freeze your turnips. Just cut them up into small pieces and blanch them before freezing them. This will kill any bacteria that may be on the outside of the roots. Once they have been blanched and are cool to the touch, you can place them in airtight freezer safe containers or plastic bags. They will keep for up to a year.

You can also can your turnips. To do this, you will need to chop them up first. Then you will need to bring a large quantity of water to a rolling boil. Add two tablespoons of salt to the water and then add your chopped up turnips. Boil them for a minute and then take them off the heat.

Fill clean jars with the hot turnips leaving one inch of space at the top. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and place lids on top of the jars. Screw the caps on the jars hand tight.

Process the jars in a boiling water bath for fifteen minutes. Make sure the water is boiling before you start timing the fifteen minutes. After this time is up, take the jars out of the water and let them cool off. Once they are cool, you can remove the rings and test for a proper seal. Store jarred turnips in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

You can also freeze these. Just make sure you leave one inch of space at the top of the jar when you fill it.

How Can I Tell If My Turnips Are Bad?

Your turnips will go soft and develop a foul odor if they are rotten. The leaves will yellow and wilt too if they are bad.

How Can I Use Purple Top Turnips In Foods?

You can eat your turnips raw, boiled or roasted. You can also cook them in soups and stews. They make excellent fries too when sliced up and deep fried.

You can also juice them, mash them, mix them with other foods or use them in salads. Turnips taste good with potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and onions.

Harvesting A Turnip Root: How And When To Harvest Turnips -

Below we have listed a few recipes that will help you use up your Purple Top turnips:

Turnips With Apples And Pecans


2 tablespoons butter

6 cups thinly sliced and halved turnips

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cups peeled and chopped baking apples

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans


Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turnips and onions to the pan and cook, stirring often, until they are soft. This will take about ten minutes.

Harvesting A Turnip Root: How And When To Harvest Turnips on

Add the apples, honey, salt and pepper to the pan and stir well to combine. Continue cooking for five minutes more. Stir occasionally. Serve warm with a sprinkle of toasted pecans on top of each serving.

Turnips With Bacon


2 pounds red turnips, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Harvesting A Turnip Root: How And When To Harvest Turnips - Picture

5 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 cup chicken stock or water


Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook the bacon until it begins to brown and then stir in the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and the bacon is browned and crisp.

Stir the turnips into the pan and add 1/2 of the chicken stock or water. Stir to combine everything, return the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.

Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and let the turnips simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more of the stock if the pan gets too dry. If any liquid remains after 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to cook until it has evaporated.

Stir in the butter, salt, pepper and allspice and serve warm.

Turnips And Herring


8 small turnips, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 small onion, chopped

1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

1 cup water

Harvesting A Turnip Root: How And When To Harvest Turnips - Picture

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

12 ounces whitefish fillets (such as cod, haddock or pollack), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

1 cup half-and-half cream

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

Harvesting A Turnip Root: How And When To Harvest Turnips -

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Chopped fresh chives (optional)

Crumbled cooked bacon (optional)


In a large saucepan, combine the turnips, onion, undrained tomatoes, water, bay leaf, sugar, salt and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until turnips are tender.

Add whitefish; cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove bay leaf. Drain turnip mixture and transfer to a bowl; set aside and keep warm.

In a small bowl, toss together the flour and 1/4 cup of water. Gradually stir into turnip mixture.

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add turnip mixture and bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes or until thickened. Stir in eggs; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in half-and-half and capers. Sprinkle with parsley and chives if desired.

Serve with bacon sprinkled on top if desired.

Turnip Oven Pancakes


2 pounds turnips (about 2 large ones), peeled and shredded

1 cup scalded milk

4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled

Harvesting A Turnip Root: How And When To Harvest Turnips - Picture

3 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Butter for pan frying (about 4 tablespoons)


Peel the turnips and then shred them on the large holes of a box grater. Place the shredded turnips in a colander and then place a bowl underneath it to catch the shredded turnip “water.” Place a heavy book on top of the turnips (I just used my laptop) and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drain off excess water

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter and sugar.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Then fold in the shredded turnips.

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Heat up a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add about 1/2 teaspoon of butter. Using a measuring cup, pour the pancake batter into the pan (I could only fit two in my pan at a time). Cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown on both sides.

These taste really good with plain old maple syrup.


Sources & references used in this article:

Radiocaesium and radiostrontium uptake by turnips and broad beans via leaf and root absorption by A Baeza, JM Paniagua, M Rufo, A Sterling… – Applied Radiation and …, 1999 – Elsevier

Food selection by brown hares (Lepus capensis) on cereal and turnip crops in north-east Scotland by R Hewson – Journal of Applied Ecology, 1977 – JSTOR

Effect of applications of growth substances on sprouting of carrots, turnips, and onions in storage by S Dallyn, O Smith – Botanical Gazette, 1952 –

Effects of irrigating forage turnips, Brassica rapa var. rapa cv. Barkant, during different periods of vegetative growth. 2. Nutritive characteristics of leaves and roots by BA Rowe, JE Neilsen – Crop and Pasture Science, 2011 – CSIRO

Minimum‐Tillage Forage Turnip and Rape Production on Hill Land as Influenced by Sod Suppression and Fertilizer1 by GA Jung, RE Kocher, A Glica – Agronomy Journal, 1984 – Wiley Online Library



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