7 Habits of Weight Loss

Turnips

Description.—The turnip belongs to the order Cruciferæ, signifying "cross flowers," so called because their four petals are arranged in the form of a cross.

It is a native of Europe and the temperate portions of Asia, growing wild in borders of fields and waste places.

The ancient Roman gastronomists considered the turnip, when prepared in the following manner, a dish fit for epicures: "After boiling, extract the water from them, and season with cummin, rue or benzoin, pounded in a mortar; afterward add honey, vinegar, gravy, and boiled grapes. Allow the whole to simmer, and serve."

Under cultivation, the turnip forms an agreeable culinary esculent; but on account of the large proportion of water entering into its composition, its nutritive value is exceedingly low. The Swedish, or Rutabaga, variety is rather more nutritive than the white, but its stronger flavor renders it less palatable. Unlike the potato, the turnip contains no starch, but instead, a gelatinous substance called pectose, which during the boiling process is changed into a vegetable jelly called pectine. The white lining just inside the skin is usually bitter; hence the tuber should be peeled sufficiently deep to remove it. When well cooked, turnips are quite easily digested.

Preparation and Cooking.—Turnips are good for culinary purposes only from the time of their ripening till they begin to sprout. The process of germination changes their proximate elements, and renders them less fit for food. Select turnips which are plump and free from disease. A turnip that is wilted, or that appears spongy, pithy, or cork-like when cut, is not fit for food.

Prepare turnips for cooking by thoroughly washing and scraping, if young and tender, or by paring if more mature. If small, they may be cooked whole; if large, they should be cut across the grain into slices a half inch in thickness. If cooked whole, care must be taken to select those of uniform size; and if sliced, the slices must be of equal thickness.

RECIPES.

Boiled Turnips.—Turnips, like other vegetables, should be boiled in as small an amount of water as possible. Great care must be taken, however, that the kettle does not get dry, as scorched turnip is spoiled. An excellent precaution, in order to keep them from scorching in case the water becomes low, is to place an inverted saucer or sauce-dish in the bottom of the kettle before putting in the turnips. Put into boiling water, cook rapidly until sufficiently tender to pierce easily with a fork; too much cooking discolors and renders them strong in flavor. Boiled turnips should be drained very thoroughly, and all water pressed out before preparing for the table. The age, size, and variety of the turnip will greatly vary the time necessary for its cooking. The safest rule is to allow plenty of time, and test with a fork. Young turnips will cook in about forty-five minutes; old turnips, sliced, require from one and a quarter to two hours. If whole or cut in halves, they require a proportionate length of time. White turnips require much, less cooking than yellow ones.

Baked Turnips.—Select turnips of uniform size; wash and wipe, but do not pare; place on the top grate of a moderately hot oven; bake two or more hours or until perfectly tender; peel and serve at once, either mashed or with cream sauce. Turnips are much sweeter baked than when cooked in any other way.

Creamed Turnips.—Pare, but do not cut, young sweet white turnips; boil till tender in a small quantity of water; drain and dry well. Cook a tablespoonful of flour in a pint of rich milk or part cream; arrange the turnips in a baking dish, pour the sauce over them, add salt if desired, sprinkle the top with grated bread crumbs, and brown in a quick oven.

Chopped Turnips.—Chop well-boiled white turnips very fine, add salt to taste and sufficient lemon juice to moisten. Turn into a saucepan and heat till hot, gently lifting and stirring constantly. Cold boiled turnip may be used advantageously in this way.

Mashed Turnips.—Wash the turnips, pare, and drop into boiling water. Cook until perfectly tender; turn into a colander and press out the water with a plate or large spoon; mash until free from lumps, season with a little sweet cream, and salt if desired. If the turnips are especially watery, one or two hot, mealy potatoes mashed with them will be an improvement.

Scalloped Turnips.—Prepare and boil whole white turnips until nearly tender; cut into thin slices, lay in an earthen pudding dish, pour over them a white sauce sufficient to cover, made by cooking a tablespoonful of flour in a pint of milk, part cream if preferred, until thickened. Season with salt, sprinkle the top lightly with grated bread crumbs, and bake in a quick oven until a rich brown. Place the baking dish on a clean plate, and serve. Rich milk or cream may be used instead of white sauce, if preferred.

Steamed Turnips.—Select turnips of uniform size, wash, pare, and steam rapidly till they can be easily pierced with a fork; mash, or serve with lemon juice or cream sauce, as desired.

Stewed Turnips.—Prepare and slice some young, fresh white turnips, boil or steam about twenty minutes, drain thoroughly, turn into a saucepan with a cup of new milk for each quart of turnips; simmer gently until tender, season with salt if desired, and serve.

Turnips in Juice.—Wash young white turnips, peel, and boil whole in sufficient water to keep them from burning. Cover closely and cook gently until tender, by which time the water in the kettle should be reduced to the consistency of syrup. Serve at once.

Turnips with Cream Sauce.—Wash and pare the turnips, cut them into half-inch dice, and cook in boiling water until tender. Meanwhile prepare a cream sauce as directed for Scalloped Turnips, using thin cream in place of milk. Drain the turnips, pour the cream sauce over them, let them boil up once, and serve.

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