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Turnips were initially wild and originated from Asia and Europe, and have been domesticated through selective breeding. They now have a sweet and spicy taste, while ‘baby’, younger roots taste more crunchy, sweeter and juicy. The leaves taste similar to mustard greens, and can be cooked and used in soups or stews, or eaten raw in salads. Turnips are a healthy alternative to white potatoes, and can actually be made into flour. Because of the severe food shortage in Germany during World War I, large quantities of turnips were consumed, and the winter of 1916-1917 was known as the “turnip winter”!
Turnip seeds grow best in cold climates with well-drained soil, and plenty of sunlight, and the plants are ready to harvest when the root reaches 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Be sure and pick turnips as soon as they ripen, as the more mature turnips turn bitter and hard. The leafy parts of turnips contain more nutrients compared to the root, and are an excellent source of vitamins B-6, E, K, A, C, carotenoid, xanthin, lutein, potassium and minerals such as calcium, copper, iron and manganese. This nutritious vegetable is high in fiber and low in calories, helps to maintain a healthy digestive system, and can surprisingly heal diverticulitis. Turnips also help stabilize blood sugar levels, prevent development of some kinds of cancer, inflammation, cardiovascular and ocular issues, and can also boost immunity, especially since St. Clare’s heirloom turnip seeds are non-GMO!
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