Is turnip skin safe to eat?

Quick answer

Yes, turnip skin is completely safe to eat. The skin contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals just like the turnip flesh. Leaving the skin on adds extra nutrition. The skin can taste bitter, so peel if desired.

Is turnip skin healthy?

Turnip skins contain beneficial nutrients including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, manganese, and potassium.

Fiber – Turnip skin is a good source of fiber. One turnip with skin provides 2-3 grams of fiber. This aids digestion and gut health.

Vitamin C – The skin contains vitamin C. One turnip provides about 20% of the daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C boosts immunity and acts as an antioxidant.

Vitamin K – Important for blood clotting. The skin provides about 10% of the daily vitamin K needs.

Folate – Helps make DNA. Turnip skins provide around 6% of the RDI for folate.

Manganese – An essential mineral. Turnip skin gives around 7% of the daily manganese requirement.

Potassium – Necessary for muscle function and nerves. Turnip skins provide around 5% of the potassium RDI.

So turnip skin provides small amounts of important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Leaving the skin on will add more nutrition to dishes.

Is turnip skin safe to eat raw?

Yes, raw turnip skin is completely edible and safe. Turnips are not on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of foods you should avoid eating raw.

Turnips and their skins do not harbor harmful bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella. But as with any produce, wash turnips well before eating raw.

Some people find raw turnip skin unpleasantly bitter tasting. The bitterness is from glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that also give mustard its sharp flavor.

Cooking helps mellow the bitterness. But if you find raw turnip skin unpleasantly bitter, feel free to peel it before eating turnips raw in salads or slaws.

Does turnip skin taste bad?

Some people find turnip skin to have a bitter, unpleasant taste, while others don’t mind the flavor. Glucosinolates give turnip skin its bitter edge, just like these compounds make mustard spicy.

If you find turnip skins too bitter for your liking, peeling them is an easy fix. But leaving the skins on when cooking often mellows the bitterness. Methods like roasting, sautéing, or boiling can help reduce the sharp flavor.

You can also counter bitterness by pairing turnips with salty, sweet, sour, or creamy ingredients. Salt, butter, olive oil, lemon juice, bacon, maple syrup, honey, or a creamy sauce complements turnips nicely. Spices like thyme, rosemary, dill, or curry powder also mask any bitter taste.

So while some people do find the skins unpleasantly bitter, there are many ways to mask, mellow, or complement the sharp flavor if you want to keep the nutrients in the skin.

Should turnip skin be peeled before cooking?

Peeling turnip skin before cooking is optional. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to peel turnips before cooking:

– Nutrition – Leaving the skin on preserves more nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Peeling removes some of these beneficial compounds.

– Flavor – Peel if you find the uncooked skin too bitter. Cooking often reduces bitterness. But peel first if you strongly dislike the raw taste.

– Texture – Older/larger turnips may have tougher skin that’s best removed. Peel if you want a silkier texture.

– Appearance – Peeling gives turnips a bright white appearance. Leaving the skin on provides color contrast.

– Time – Peeling takes extra time. Leaving the skin on is quicker.

– Use – Peel for mashed turnips to avoid an uneven texture. Leave skin on for roasted or simmered turnips.

So peel or don’t peel based on your priorities – nutrition, taste, texture, appearance, time, and intended use. The skin and the flesh are perfectly safe to eat.

How to reduce turnip skin bitterness

Here are some tips for mellowing turnip skin’s bitterness:

– Cook with moist heat – Simmering, braising, or roasting helps reduce the sharp flavor.

– Soak – Soaking raw turnip slices or cubes in water for 30 minutes can help leach out bitterness.

– Blanche briefly – Boil whole turnips for 1-2 minutes, then shock in ice water to set color.

– Pair with acid – Lemon/lime juice or vinegar balances bitterness.

– Combine with sweet – Honey, maple syrup, roasted veggies, or fruit chutney.

– Use creamy ingredients – Milk, cream, butter, or oil smooths sharpness.

– Add umami – Soy sauce, bacon, mushrooms, cheese, or anchovies complements bitterness.

– Use bold seasonings – Spices like cumin, curry powder, or chili peppers mask it.

– Counter with salt – A little salt curbs the flavor. Don’t overdo it.

– Pick younger turnips – Baby turnips tend to be less bitter than mature ones.

So while turnip skin bitterness is safe, there are many cooking methods that can make it more palatable if you find it unpleasant.

What nutrients are in turnip greens?

Turnip greens are highly nutritious. They provide the following nutrients:

Vitamin K – Turnip greens have lots of vitamin K. One cup of chopped greens provides over 500% of the RDI for vitamin K. This aids blood clotting.

Vitamin A – Turnip greens are an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin A. One cup gives over 200% of the daily requirement.

Vitamin C – Turnip greens provide about 50% of the RDI for immune-boosting vitamin C per cup.

Folate – One cup of turnip greens provides around 15% of the daily folate needs. Folate is important for DNA synthesis.

Calcium – Turnip greens supply around 15% of the RDI for calcium in each cup. Calcium supports bone health.

Manganese – An essential trace mineral. Turnip greens are a good source, with one cup providing over 25% of the daily needs.

Fiber – Each cup contains 5 grams of beneficial dietary fiber. This promotes good digestion.

So turnip greens provide an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Add them to recipes for extra nutrition.

Can you eat mashed turnips plain?

Yes, plain mashed turnips without any additions make a quick, healthy side dish. Simply peel, chop, boil or steam the turnips until tender, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

However, plain mashed turnips benefit from a few additions to enhance flavor:

– Butter or olive oil – Adds richness and moisture.

– Milk or cream – Provides creaminess.

– Salt & pepper – Seasons to taste.

– Honey or maple syrup – Balances sweetness.

– Fresh herbs – Chopped parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary.

– Spices – Nutmeg, cinnamon, curry powder.

– Garlic or onions – Extra flavor.

– Cheese – Parmesan, cheddar, blue cheese, goat cheese.

– Nuts – Chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, pine nuts.

While you can serve plain mashed turnips, adding a few ingredients helps complement the earthy flavor and improves the texture. Start with butter or oil, seasonings, and milk or cream for basic seasoned mash.

What do turnips pair well with?

Turnips pair well with ingredients that complement or contrast their earthy, mildly bitter flavor. Good pairings include:

– Hearty meats – Roast chicken or pork, beef stew, sausages, bacon.

– Dairy – Butter, cream, milk, yogurt, sour cream, soft cheeses.

– Onions & garlic – Building flavor.

– Root vegetables – Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots.

– Cruciferous vegetables – Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale.

– Fresh herbs – Thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, dill, mint.

– Spices – Nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, cayenne, chili powder.

– Citrus – Lemon, lime, orange. Brightens flavor.

– Pomegranate seeds & dried cranberries – Tart-sweet contrast.

– Nuts & seeds – Walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds. Adds crunch.

– Maple syrup or honey – Sweetens.

So ingredients that complement (meats, dairy), contrast (citrus, herbs, spices), or accentuate (aromatics, sweeteners) turnips work well.

What spices go well with turnips?

Many different spices pair nicely with turnips to accentuate or mellow their earthy, somewhat bitter taste:

– Nutmeg – Warming spice that complements turnips. Works well in mashed turnips.

– Cinnamon – Sweet spice that also pairs nicely with turnips in both savory and sweet dishes.

– Curry powder – Bold blend that enhances turnips. Makes a flavorful roasted turnip dish.

– Cumin – Earthy and slightly bitter like turnips. A natural pairing.

– Cayenne or chili powder – Adds heat that cuts through turnip bitterness. Use sparingly.

– Rosemary – Woodsy herb that matches up with turnips’ earthiness.

– Thyme – Bright herbal flavor balances out turnips’ slight bitterness.

– Sage – Bold herb that stands up to turnips’ strong flavor. Use with roast turnips.

– Dill – Fresh, grassy flavor that brightens turnips. Excellent in slaws.

– Cardamom – Surprise spice that complements turnips in Indian dishes like curries.

So spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, and curry powder work especially well to enhance turnip’s flavor. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and dill also make great pairings.

How to roast turnips

Roasting brings out turnips’ natural sweetness and caramelizes them to tender perfection. Here’s how to roast turnips:

– 1 lb turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp pepper
– 1/2 tsp dried thyme, rosemary, or oregano

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Toss turnips with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme on a baking sheet.
3. Arrange in a single layer, not overcrowded.
4. Roast 25-35 minutes, flipping once halfway, until browned and fork tender.
5. Optional – toss with lemon juice and chopped parsley before serving.

– Use a mix of white and purple turnips for color contrast.
– Cut larger turnips into wedges instead of cubes.
– Add quartered small potatoes or carrots to roast together.
– Sprinkle with parmesan or chopped nuts when done.
– Roast at higher heat for crisper exterior.

What is the best way to cook turnips?

There are lots of great ways to cook turnips to bring out their sweet, earthy flavor:

– Roasted – This is one of the best cooking methods for turnips. Roasting caramelizes them, enhancing sweetness. Toss cubed turnips with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast at 400°F until browned and tender.

– Mashed – Peel, chop, and boil or steam turnips until very tender. Mash with butter, cream, and seasonings for a smooth, creamy side.

– Sautéed – Dice turnips and sauté in butter or oil over medium-high heat until caramelized. Season with herbs and lemon.

– Braised – Brown cubed turnips in oil, then braise with broth until very tender. They soak up all the flavors.

– Soups – Add chopped or pureed turnips to potato, cream of vegetable, or chicken noodle soups.

– Grilled – Slice large turnips into 1/4 inch thick planks. Brush with oil and grill over medium heat until tender and grill-marked.

– Raw – Thinly slice or shred raw turnips for salads. Their texture softens as they marinate in dressing.

Roasting, mashing, sautéing, and braising are all excellent cooking methods that bring out turnips’ natural sweet, earthy goodness.

How to tell if turnips have gone bad?

Here are some signs that turnips have gone bad:

– Wrinkled, shriveled skin. Fresh turnips have smooth, taut skin.

– Soft, spongy, or slimy texture. Bad turnips feel mushy when pressed.

– Discolored, brown spots or pitting. This shows spoilage.

– Damp, moldy smell instead of fresh, earthy aroma.

– Bitter, unpleasant flavor instead of sweet and mild taste.

– Dry, pithy insides instead of juicy flesh.

– Slimy liquid oozing out when cut. Healthy turnips release clear moisture only.

– Rubbery skin and flesh. Overripe turnips become hard.

As long as turnips feel firm with no pitting, smell fresh, and have smooth skin, they are still good to eat. Discard any with foul odors, dry/slimy interiors, or dark blemishes.

Do turnips go bad faster if cut?

Yes, cut turnips will go bad faster than whole, uncut turnips. There are a few reasons why:

– Increased surface area – More cut surfaces are exposed to air and potential contaminants.

– Loss of protective skin – The outer skin shields the interior flesh from light and oxygen.

– Cell damage – Cutting into turnips causes cell damage, accelerating deterioration.

– Leaking fluids – Cut turnips seep liquid, promoting microbial growth.

– Oxidation – Exposure to air causes enzymatic browning.

To maximize freshness after cutting turnips:

– Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

– Surround with damp paper towels to create a humid environment.

– Coat cut surfaces in lemon juice or vinegar to discourage browning.

– Blanch briefly until just tender, then shock in ice water to retain color and texture.

– Use within 2-3 days for best quality and freshness.

While whole turnips store for weeks, sliced/peeled turnips need to be used within a few days before they go bad. Keeping them chilled in an airtight container helps prolong freshness.


In summary, turnip skin is completely edible and provides beneficial fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. While some find the uncooked skin bitter tasting, cooking turnip skin reduces any harsh flavor. Peeling before cooking is optional. Bitterness can be further mellowed by various cooking techniques. Turnip greens are also extremely nutritious. Turnips pair well with meats, dairy, aromatics, herbs, and spices. Roasting, braising, sautéing, and mashing are great cooking methods that bring out turnips’ sweetness. Signs of spoiled turnips include wrinkled skin, soft textures, brown spots, off odors, rubbery flesh, and oozing liquids. Cut turnips deteriorate faster than whole, lasting only 2-3 days refrigerated. But overall, both turnip skin and flesh are perfectly safe, nutritious additions to any diet.

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