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Turnip raab

Turnip raabWhen we started eating our Hakurei turnips in November, Daddy admonished me, "Don't eat the turnips, eat the greens all winter long."  So I left them alone to see what would happen.

I was disappointed when my turnips didn't put out many more leaves, but that's to be expected since our Persephone Days were beginning by the time I cut the turnip tops the first time.  Then, this week, I discovered the real treat from overwintering turnips --- "turnip raab" (aka "almost broccoli raab").

Despite the name, broccoli raab is actually most closely related to turnips.  Also known as rapini, the vegetable is grown primarily for the unopened flower buds, which can be cut repeatedly and which taste a bit like broccoli.  I haven't had good luck with broccoli raab in the past --- it seems to bolt quickly and barely give me much of a harvest --- so I stick to real broccoli.

That said, the flower buds on my turnips were delicious, and the plants seem to be following the lead of their relatives by sending out side shoots once I cut the main head.  Turnip flowersWe've been eating bolted mustard buds for a few weeks now, but the turnip buds are clearly a cut above, with thicker stalks that don't go woody as quickly.

The moral of the story is --- if you have overwintering turnips, go out and check on them now for some bonus broccoli raab.  The buds are best before they open, but even young flowers like this are pretty tasty when you saute with some mustard leaves and a bit of balsamic vinegar and peanut oil.  Whatever you do, don't pull out the bolting plants and consider them a loss!

Our chicken waterer keeps the coop dry and the hens healthy.


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Some years I can get into the whole turnip as root veggie thing, but not reliably. Broccoli Raab on the other hand, I like very much. In Virginia I had the same experience you did- it went from cute little not quite ready Broccoli Bobbies to full grown and gettin' bitter Broccoli Roberts in no time. I got one harvest at the Raab stage and that was it. If the turnips will do it, I'll give them another go. Out of curiousity: which plants to do you put your turnips near?
Comment by Molly from eatcology.com Fri Mar 2 11:46:18 2012

Molly --- I'm with you on the roots of turnips. Sometimes I'll cook them up, but more often I'm not all that tempted. Carrots seem to be my favorite root crop, so I tend to focus on them.

Have you grown broccoli raab elsewhere with better success? Maybe that explains why people sing its praises so much and I think it's so useless. :-)

In reference to your question about which plants I put my turnips near: We love broccoli and winter greens so much that it's always difficult to find a bed for crucifers. So, I actually decide on their location very simply --- any bed where there hasn't been a crucifer in two years is going to be a crucifer bed this year! Unfortunately, that leaves me no room for more intricate decisions like companion planting.

Comment by anna Fri Mar 2 13:13:23 2012

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime