Turnip greens are a staple dish in the South. They have an edible root and are at their finest when cooked shortly after being picked. Turnip greens can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling and steaming with smoked pork. Turnip greens have a high nutritional value and are rich providers of iron, vitamin A, potassium, and calcium, according to the University of Florida. Turnip greens can be cooked in advance and stored in the freezer for several months.
To freeze turnip greens, you must first prepare them. You can do this in two different ways: by shredding them, or by grating them. Shredding will yield small fragments while grating will yield long, narrow strips. To decide which method to use, determine the size of the hole in the grater.
What Exactly is Turnip Green?
Turnip greens are the turnip’s tops, which are dark, leafy green. Although typically discarded, the greens of this plant are edible and used in many different types of food. They can be utilized similarly to other lettuces and tough leaves. Turnip greens are made from the leaves of the Brassica rapa plant, a type of turnip. Among other vegetables, the Brassicaceae family includes broccoli, cabbage, and mustard. The turnip’s roots and leaves were highly esteemed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who created and cultivated numerous new varieties. There have been around 4,000 years of cultivation.
The turnip was first introduced with the arrival of European colonists in North America. In the 18th and 19th centuries, plantation owners kept the turnip roots for themselves and distributed the leaves to their slaves. Since many of the slaves were from West Africa, turnip greens were substituted for other greens that were part of their usual diet.
These greens are still a common ingredient in contemporary Southern cooking. Turnips and their greens are also well-liked throughout Europe. However, with the widespread adoption of imported potatoes in the 19th century, turnip consumption decreased.
How to Cook and Freeze Turnip Green
Cooking Turnip Green
Before cooking turnip greens, it is necessary to wash them thoroughly. Then, strain them over cold water. Boil the turnip greens for about five minutes, and then drain. You can then store the turnip greens in the freezer for up to ten months.
After blanching, you can store the turnip greens in an airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag. When storing them, make sure there is a half-inch head space and that the bag has an airtight seal. Be sure to label the container or bag with the storage date.
When it comes to freezing greens, you may want to blanch them first. This helps preserve the crunchiness of the vegetables. It also prevents them from wilting. Place them in the freezer for about two to three hours.
Freezing Turnip Green
Turnip greens that have been cooked in a hot skillet can be swiftly cooled by putting the pan in an ice water sink or by putting them in the refrigerator in a closed container.
Transfer the greens to a freezer bag or a sturdy plastic food storage container. For potential expansion, leaving a 1/2-inch head space in the container. For the greatest quality, package a lot of greens in tiny batches.
Seal the plastic storage container by pressing an airtight cover onto it. Before zipping up the freezer bag’s top, squeeze out any extra air.
Use a piece of freezer tape to attach a label with the storage date on the container or bag.
Turnip greens should be frozen for 10 to 12 months at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
How Should I Use Turnip Greens?
Use the entire turnip plant, including the top leaves, which are bright green. After removing the turnip root, prepare the greens, such as kale or collards, by rinsing, drying, chopping, and boiling them. You can season the greens with salt, bacon, butter, lemon, cider vinegar, or anything else that will weaken their tough cellular walls.
These leaves add a pleasant bite to stir-fries, quiches, and stews because of their peppery zing (akin to that of mustard greens or arugula). They go well with Southern-style cuisine. Turnip greens are a nice addition to soups because they wilt well and become tender when cooked or stewed for a long time. Don’t eat them uncooked because they are tough and fibrous when done so.
What Flavor Do Turnip Greens Have?
Because the flavor of turnip greens is comparable to that of the root, expect peppery undertones in the fall greens and a brighter zing in the tender spring leaves. Turnip greens don’t have the same heat as mustard greens, and unlike capsicum heat, the itch from this green vegetable goes away quickly.
The flavors of turnip greens range from mild and mildly sweet to peppery and somewhat harsh. The timing of their harvest determines everything. The younger the plant, the softer the flavor. As the plants grow, a peppery flavor that is similar to extra-mild arugula emerges. Depending on your preferences, think about utilizing younger greens in raw dishes like salads. The mature leaves will be useful in cooked greens recipes.
If you’ve never had turnip before and are unsure of what the greens will taste like, The Spruce Eats suggests imagining the flavor of turnip root. While leaves taken in the fall have a more peppery blast, those collected in the spring have a lighter, more refreshing flavor. It is a soft, pleasant sensation on your tongue that quickly dissipates, unlike the searing pop of capsicum heat.
Are Turnip Greens Healthy?
Turnip greens are high in nutrients and low in calories. The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, a ranking system for foods based on nutrients per calorie, places turnip greens at the top (1,000 on a scale of one to 1,000). (via Simply Fresh)
We’re interested in nutrition that provides value for your calorie budget. Turnip greens are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as considerable amounts of vitamins C, folate, A, and K, according to Medical News Today.
Without going into great depth, we can say that turnip greens improve bone health, healthy skin, and cardiovascular health. Additionally, turnip greens help control blood sugar levels and include antioxidants that support the body’s defenses against free radicals, which can lead to diseases like cancer.
Good-Looking Skin and Hair
Turnip greens, which are strong in vitamin A, can support the maintenance of healthy skin and hair.
All human tissues, including skin and hair, require vitamin A for proper development. Vitamin A also helps produce sebum, which maintains the moisture in the hair. Collagen, which gives skin and hair structure, needs vitamin C to produce and remain stable.
Additionally, it helps the immune system. Hair loss may result from an iron shortage. A balanced diet full of foods high in iron, such as turnip greens, can help to stop this. The body’s ability to use energy properly may be harmed by a diet low in iron. Turnip greens, spinach, lentils, and collard greens are a few examples of foods high in iron.
One of the most prevalent nutrient deficits in developed nations is iron deficiency, which is also one of the main causes of anemia. The body’s capacity to absorb iron is maximized when foods high in vitamin C are consumed alongside foods rich in iron. Iron and vitamin C are both abundantly available in turnip greens on their own.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
Experts claim that inadequate calcium and vitamin K intakes are associated with a higher risk of bone fractures. Calcium absorption is increased, calcium excretion in the urine is decreased, and bone matrix proteins are modulated by vitamin K, all of which contribute to better bone health.
138 micrograms of vitamin K are present in one 55-gram cup of raw turnip greens, above the daily need. The highest amount of calcium per gram of fruit or vegetable is found in turnip greens. Turnip greens include vitamin A, phosphorus, and magnesium, all of which are good for bone health.
Cancer Treatment and Prevention
Turnip greens and other cruciferous vegetables have nutrients that may help prevent cancer. The sulfur-containing chemical sulforaphane is in charge of giving cruciferous veggies their bitter flavor. Additionally, sulforaphane seems to have some anti-cancer qualities. Early research suggests that the substance can inhibit the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC), which is known to have a part in the growth of cancer cells.
Reference: Nitrate accumulation, yield, and leaf quality of turnip greens in response to nitrogen fertilisation
What Stores Sell Turnip Greens?
Turnip greens are hard to get on their own, and not all supermarkets carry turnips that still have their stems on, especially during the winter. Farmers’ markets frequently offer whole turnips with the greens still attached; these are the best and most recent options. Ensure that any greens you purchase are actually green. They are past their prime and won’t be very tasty to eat if they have turned yellow.
Turnip greens are hard to get on their own, and not all supermarkets carry turnips that still have their stems on, especially during the winter. Farmers’ markets frequently offer whole turnips with the greens still attached; these are the best and most recent options. Because they are the newest, have the sweetest flavor, and have the best texture, pick small turnips. They ought to be solid and heavy for their size, free of nicks and cuts. If there is a connection between the greens, they should be vibrant and fresh.
What are the Green Turnip Risks?
Consuming a lot of foods high in vitamin K in a short period of time can influence blood clotting and could interfere with the effects of blood thinners like warfarin or Coumadin.
Vegetable juice that contains nitrate may get contaminated if it is improperly stored because bacteria might grow there that turn nitrate into nitrite, a potentially harmful chemical. Anyone who is susceptible to cardiovascular disease should speak with their doctor before starting a high-nitrate diet.
A high-nitrate diet may interfere with medications including sildenafil citrate, tadalafil, and vardenafil as well as organic nitrate, often known as nitroglycerine, or nitrite therapies used to treat angina. This is because nitrate can promote vasodilation. The most important factor in maintaining good health and preventing disease is a balanced diet or general eating pattern. Instead of viewing a single meal as the secret to achieving optimal health, it is best to have a diversified diet.
To prepare turnip greens for cooking, you need to rinse them with cold water. Then, use a sharp knife to chop them. You can discard the stems or toss them in the compost bin. Then, scoop out the leaves and chop them into small pieces. Put the pieces in two freezer bags. Refrigerate them for up to a week. After that, you can use them in many dishes.
If you want to freeze turnip greens, you can do so in a variety of ways. One of these is by placing the greens in a large, airtight plastic food storage container. Another option is to use a heavy-duty freezer bag. For both methods, make sure that the bag has a zip-lock top and an airtight lid. After you seal the bag, label it with the storage date and store it in the freezer.