Navigation Menu+


A cruciferous plant of the genus Brassica (B. rapa), much cultivated on account of its solid, bulbous root, which is usually in the form of a flattened sphere, or a short, much compressed cone, and is valued as an article of food. — Webster, 1882

The benefits derived from turnip husbandry are of great magnitude; light soils are cultivated with profit and facility; abundance of food is provided for man and beast; the earth is turned to the uses for which it is physically calculated, and by being suitably cleaned with this preparatory crop, a bed is provided for grass seeds, wherein they flourish and prosper with greater vigor than after any other preparation.

TO PREPARE THE GROUND. The first plowing is given immediately after harvest, or as soon as the wheat seed is finished, either in length or across the field, as circumstances may seem to require. In this state the ground remains till the oat seed is finished, when a second plowing is given to it, usually in a contrary direction to the first. It is then repeatedly harrowed, often rolled between the harrowings and every particle of root-weeds carefully picked off with the hand; a third plowingis then bestowed, and the other operations are repeated. In this stage, if the ground has not been very foul, the seed process generally commences, but often a fourth plowing, sometimes a fifth is necessary before the ground is sufficiently clean. Less labor, however, is necessary now than in former times, when a more regular mode of cropping was commonly followed.

TO SOW THE SEED. The next part of the process is the sowing of the seed; this may be performed by drilling machines of different sizes and constructions, through all acting on the same principle. A machine drawn by a horse in a pair of shafts, sows two drills at a time and answers extremely well, where the ground is flat, and the drills properly made up. The weight of the machine insures a regularity of sowing hardly to be gained by those of a different size and construction. From two to three pounds of seed are sown upon the acre, though the smallest of these quantities will give many more plants in ordinary seasons than are necessary; but as the seed is not an expensive article the greater part of farmers incline to sow thick, which both provides against the danger of part of the seed perishing, and gives the young plants an advantage at the outset.

Turnips are sown from the beginning to the end of June, but the second and third weeks of the month are, by judicious farmers, accounted the most proper time. Some people have sown as early as May, and with advantage, but these early fields are apt to run to seed before winter, especially if the autumn be favorable to vegetation. As a general rule it may be laid down that the earliest sowings should be on the latest soils; plants on such soils are often long before they make any great progress, and, in the end, may be far behind those in other situations, which were much later sown. The turnip plant, indeed, does not thrive rapidly till its roots reach the dung, and the previous nourishment afforded them is often so scanty as to stunt them altogether before they get so far. — Henry Hartshorne, The Household Cyclopedia of General Information (New York: Thomas Kelly, 1881).

BOILED TURNIP TOPS. Thoroughly wash a peck of turnip tops, put them over the fire in plenty of salted boiling water, and boil them fast for ten minutes, or until they are just tender; then drain them, season them with salt, pepper, and butter, and serve them hot. — Juliet Courson, Miss Courson’s Practical American Cookery and Household Management (New York: Dood, Mead & Co., 1886), 424.

CREAMED TURNIPS. Wash turnips, and cut in one-half inch cubes. Cook three cups cubes in boiling salted water twenty minutes, or until soft. Drain, and add one cup white sauce. For white sauce, put 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan, stir until melted and bubbling; add 2 tablespoons flour, and stir until thoroughly blended. Pour on gradually one cup milk, adding about one-third at a time, stirring until well mixed, then beating until smooth and glossy. Season with 1.4 teaspoon salt and a few grains pepper. If a wire whisk is used, all the milk may be added at once; and although more quickly made if milk is scalded, it is not necessary. — Fannie Merritt Farmer, The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1896), 237, 273.

MASHED TURNIPS. Peel turnips. Cut in pieces and boil until tender. Drain, steam a little until dry, then mash, add a good pinch of salt, pepper, butter the size of an egg, and enough cream to moisten. Sugar may be added. — The Council of Jewish Women, The Neighborhood Cook Book (Portland, Oregon: Press of Bushong & Co., 1914), 169.


turnip (BW 1, 12; FB 10, 19-21; LHP 25; BPC 33-34, 37; TLW 3, 18; LTP 12; PG)
     boiled (FB 6; BPC 34)
     creamed (BPC 34)
     mashed (FB 2, 26; BPC 34; TLW 19; LTP 19)
     raw (BPC 34; TLW 3; PG) – dearly loved by Carrie Ingalls
     seeds (LHP 21; PG)
     sow turnips the 25th of July, wet or dry (BPC 33)
     turnip-pile (BPC 37)