How can you preserve turnips?

Turnips are a hardy root vegetable that can be stored for months if properly preserved. With the right storage methods, you can enjoy fresh turnips long after the growing season ends. There are several ways to preserve turnips including canning, pickling, freezing, and root cellaring. The best preservation method depends on how you plan to use the turnips. Canning and pickling are best for cooked turnips, while freezing and root cellaring maintain their fresh, crisp texture.

Why Preserve Turnips?

Turnips are in season during the cooler weather of fall and early winter. But their peak season only lasts a few months. Preserving them allows you to enjoy their unique peppery-sweet flavor year-round. Turnips are highly nutritious, providing antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. Preserving them can help you eat seasonal, local foods and get more nutrients in your diet during the winter. Having a stockpile of preserved turnips also provides food security.

How Long Do Turnips Last?

When stored properly, turnips can last for months past their growing season. The key is controlling temperature, humidity, ventilation, and light exposure to prevent rotting. Here is how long turnips will keep with different preservation methods:

  • Refrigerator: 2-4 weeks
  • Freezer: 8-10 months
  • Canning: 12-18 months
  • Pickling: 12-18 months
  • Root cellar: 2-6 months

Proper curing, packing, and storage conditions are necessary to achieve these timeframes.

What’s the Best Way to Preserve Turnips?

The best preservation method for turnips depends on your intended use. Consider the following:

  • Canning: Best if you want soft, fully-cooked turnips for stews, soups, and casseroles. Canned turnips lose their crunch.
  • Pickling: Best if you want crisp, pungent turnips for salads, sandwiches, relish trays, and snacking. The vinegar brine preserves crunch.
  • Freezing: Best if you want to quickly preserve raw turnips short-term. Frozen turnips retain a firm, juicy texture.
  • Root cellaring: Best for long-term storage of fresh, crunchy turnips. Requires cool, dark root cellar conditions.

Consider how much time and effort you want to invest, and what texture and flavor you prefer. This will help determine the best preservation method for your needs.

How to Can Turnips

Canning cooks turnips into a soft, fully cooked form with a concentrated flavor. Follow these steps for safe canning:


  • 5 lbs turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Water to cover turnips
  • 2 tsp salt (optional)
  • Canning jars, lids, and bands
  • Canning pot with rack
  • Jar lifter
  • Bubble remover and headspace measuring tool
  • Clean towels


  1. Wash turnips thoroughly under cool running water. Peel and cut into 1-inch cubes.
  2. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add diced turnips and salt if desired. Return to a boil.
  3. Boil for 5 minutes to pre-cook.
  4. While turnips boil, wash and sterilize canning jars in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Keep jars hot until ready to use.
  5. Fill canning pot with 2-3 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place jar rack in bottom.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pre-cooked turnip cubes into hot sterile jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Top off with boiling cooking liquid, maintaining 1-inch space. Wipe jar rims with a clean towel.
  7. Apply lids and bands fingertip tight.
  8. Use jar lifter to gently lower filled jars into canning pot. Ensure jars are fully submerged, adding more boiling water if needed.
  9. Bring water to a full rolling boil. Boil filled jars for 30 minutes for pint jars or 35 minutes for quart jars.
  10. Use jar lifter to transfer jars to a towel-lined cooling rack. Allow to cool untouched for 12-24 hours.
  11. Check jar seals, removing any that haven’t properly sealed. Label and store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place for up to 18 months.

Canned turnips are best used in dishes like pot roast, soups, stews, and casseroles where a tender texture is desired. They make excellent cold weather comfort food throughout the winter.

How to Pickle Turnips

Pickling turns turnips into a crisp, tangy and flavorful condiment. Here are some simple steps for pickling turnips:


  • 2 lbs turnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • Canning jars, lids, and bands


  1. Sterilize canning jars by boiling for 10 minutes. Keep jars hot.
  2. In a bowl, combine vinegar, water, salt, sugar and spices. Stir to dissolve.
  3. Pack sliced turnips into hot sterilized jars. Pour over brine mixture, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
  4. Wipe rims, apply lids and bands, then process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove and allow to cool untouched for 12-24 hours.
  6. Check seals and label. Store for up to 18 months.

For a crisper texture, you can optionally skip the boiling water bath processing step. Just refrigerate the sealed jars for 1-2 weeks before eating to allow flavors to meld.

Use pickled turnips on salads, sandwiches, burgers, relish trays, or straight from the jar as a crunchy, tangy snack.

How to Freeze Turnips

Freezing is the simplest way to preserve fresh turnip texture and flavor short-term. Follow these easy steps:


  • Turnips, peeled and sliced or diced
  • Water
  • Ice cube trays or freezer bags


  1. Wash, peel, and slice or dice turnips into desired shapes and sizes.
  2. Blanch turnips for 3 minutes in boiling water, then transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking.
  3. Drain turnips well and pat dry.
  4. Distribute turnip pieces into ice cube trays or spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours.
  5. Transfer frozen turnips to labeled freezer bags. Squeeze out excess air and seal.
  6. Store frozen turnips for 8-10 months at 0°F or below.

To use frozen turnips, simply remove desired amount and thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Use thawed turnips in soups, stews, roasts, casseroles, and any cooked dishes. They’ll have a texture similar to fresh.

How to Store Turnips by Root Cellaring

Root cellaring offers long-term, fresh turnip storage using cool, humid, dark conditions. Follow these tips:


  • Harvest turnips after a frost when cold temperatures convert starches into sugars, improving flavor.
  • Select unblemished turnips that are mature, firm, and heavy for their size with no cuts, cracks, or insect damage.
  • Cut tops to within 1-2 inches of turnips, leaving stems attached.
  • Gently brush off dirt but do not wash.


  • Cure turnips for 10-14 days in a dark, dry, 45-60°F location with good airflow.
  • Lay them in a single layer, not touching, on mesh racks or screening.
  • Curing encourages wound healing and toughens outer skin to resist rotting.
  • After curing, wipe off any shriveled outer layers or mold growth.


  • Transfer cured turnips to perforated plastic bags, mesh bags, or bins.
  • Keep at 32-40°F with 90-95% humidity.
  • Store in total darkness.
  • Check regularly and remove any turnips showing signs of rot.

Properly cured and stored turnips will retain their fresh, crunchy texture 2-6 months in root cellar conditions. Use immediately once removed.

What are the Best Turnip Varieties for Preserving?

When choosing turnips for preserving, opt for storage varieties that hold up well for months. Good choices include:

  • Purple Top White Globe – Heirloom; crisp white roots with purple shoulders. Retains texture when pickled or frozen.
  • Golden Globe – Sweet, firm golden roots ideal for canning or pickling.
  • Tokyo Cross – Hybrid; fast-growing; perfect for fall harvest; stores up to 6 months.
  • Scarlet Queen – Heirloom; small round red roots; stores well and perfect for pickling.

Avoid spring turnips like Hakurei which don’t store well. Flat-shaped turnips also don’t preserve as well. Stick to round roots.

How to Tell if Preserved Turnips are Bad

It’s important to safely identify spoiled preserved turnips before eating them. Here’s what to look for with each method:


  • Bulging or leaking jar lids
  • Cloudy brine
  • Slimy or mushy texture
  • Unpleasant colors or odors


  • Slimy, slippery turnips
  • Cloudy brine with sediment
  • Mold or yeast growth
  • Foul, rotten smell


  • Odor when package is opened
  • Deep freezer burn
  • Clumped, mushy turnips
  • Excess ice crystals or fluid

Root Cellar

  • Shriveled, mushy, translucent turnips
  • Mold or rot spots
  • Foul, fermented odor

When in doubt, compost it! Don’t taste or eat turnips that show signs of spoilage.


With proper harvesting, storage, and preservation techniques, turnips can be enjoyed year-round. Canning, pickling, freezing, and root cellaring all allow you to maintain their availability, nutrition, and flavor well past the growing season. Choose the method that best suits your needs and desired use. And always inspect turnips for signs of spoilage before consuming to avoid foodborne illness. Enjoying preserved turnips throughout the winter is a satisfying way to savor the tastes of fall.

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