Enjoy Some Turnip Trivia and Tips for This St. Patrick’s Day

Much maligned but beloved by turnip and rutabaga eaters the humble root vegetable!

This humble root vegetable is great winter eating. It would have been used in a boiled dinner for generations because it is not only easy to cultivate but is also an excellent winter keeper. Late winter meals in New England, Europe and Great Britain were often some sort of preserved meat boiled with root vegetables. I LOVE turnip but my husband doesn’t like it or the “disturbance” it creates in my digestive tract. When I was employed at a living history museum as a historical interpreter, I worked in a farmhouse kitchen with one of the best cooks and good historians that I have ever known. Everyone who came into the kitchen when we cooked turnip or rutabaga would make a thinly veiled joke about the gaseous emissions they would experience after eating it. This is what I learned from her and will pass on to you. Indigestion etc. comes from trying to break down the fibers close to the skin of the turnip. Here’s how you fix that. Cut the top and bottom off the top of the turnip and look for a line that is in about 1/4″ from the skin. If you cut that well away before you cook the turnip you will not get that indigestion!  So, don’t use a vegetable peeler on this but over cut it generously to remove this offender with a knife, which will also save you time. Cook in salted water until tender and mash with butter. 

When we were kids, Mom used to mix mashed turnip with mashed potatoes and called it “root moose”, a funny name to us which we thought she made up. It is one of Sweden’s national dishes, pronounced the way we said it but written as Rotmas. I was told by a friend who lived in Sweden that you can buy this pre made in the frozen food section of any Swedish grocery store.


Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day boiled brisket and root vegetables and make certain that you listen to some great Irish Music!


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1 comment

  1. I too grew up eating turnip or rutabaga. Thanks for sharing your tips for eliminating the difficult to digest part of the turnip. We always pared our turnips deeply to take care of this problem.
    Best wishes, and happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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