Salad Turnips is April's Harvest of the Month 
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Sweet salad turnips are quite different from the purple and white larger turnips we usually peel and boil or roast. These turnips are small, all-white and they come from Japan and Korea. They have a sweet and tender skin so they don’t need to be peeled. The flavor is surprisingly tender, almost fruity and crunchy.

The most common variety is called Hakurei, developed in Japan in the 1950s during a time of food shortages because of WWII. Surprisingly, salad turnips are a member of the Brassica family (like cabbage). 

Salad turnips are a good source of vitamins and anti-oxidants that help the body rid itself of harmful toxins. Not only are the roots beneficial to your health, but cooking the fresh, green turnip tops gives your body healthy nutrients such as:

Calcium
Vitamin C
Vitamin E

The roots of the salad turnip contain cyanoglucosides, which can make them bitter tasting to people with specific genes in their DNA. 

SALAD TURNIPS SATUEED IN BUTTER

2 bunches Salad Turnips
2 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Butter
Salt and Pepper to taste 

Slice the salad turnips into thin half- moons, and mince the garlic. Melt the butter in a medium-sized frying pan, and sauté the salad turnips until they are a light golden color. Serve.

For added spice, try sprinkling on red pepper flakes or adding a pinch of turmeric. You can also sauté sliced potatoes in addition to the salad turnips. 

 

Illustration: Calea Sholes, 7th grade at Buford Middle School

Turnips like rich soil with good drainage. Add some compost before planting so they’ll have plenty of good nutrition. Direct sow seeds 1⁄4 inch deep and 2 inches apart. The seeds are small so sometimes you’ll drop more than you intend, making for crowded turnips. This is no problem, thin the seedlings and add the leaves to your salad or snack. Harvest when turnips are about 2-4 inches across, 30 to 60 days from seeding. You can eat the leaves and the root. 

Top, students at Jackson-Via Elementary enjoying their snack. Middle row, students at Clark Elementary and their reactions to salad turnips. Bottom row, students from Charlottesville High trying salad turnips and participating in Harvest of the Month for the first time.

Salad Turnips - Trivia and Facts
 
TRIVIA: “The root of this vegetable is perfectly round and perfectly white. It is the same size as a radish, and is a cousin of the radish as well. People eat the root raw on a salad or cooked in a pan."

FACTS:
  • Turnips contain a chemical called cyanoglucosides, which causes turnips to taste extremely bitter if you possess a specific gene in your DNA.
  • Turnips are one of the most cultivated vegetables. However, salad turnips, also known as Japanese turnips or Hakurei turnips, are a newer variety developed in Japan in the 1950s after World War II. 
  • The leaves of salad turnips have a peppery flavor similar to mustard greens (in fact, both are in the same plant family, Brassicacae), and can be cooked and eaten similarly to other sautéed greens. 
Read more about this month's Harvest of the Month snack delivery on our blog!
 
Above: At Central Kitchen, volunteers wash and chop the turnip snack.

A special big shout out of thanks goes to all the CCS kitchen staff who shared space with us, all the volunteers and Garden Coordinators who helped deliver the snack to classrooms and to all the students for enthusiastic snacking and guessing!
Harvest of the Month is a program that highlights a locally available crop each month by providing a fresh, healthy snack in all six Charlottesville Elementary Schools. Students also learn about the crop in their schoolyard garden and classroom. Information on growing, nutrition, and preparation of the crop is shared with teachers and families. The goal of Harvest of the Month is to support healthy living skills that strengthen our youth and community. 

It takes a community to make Harvest of the Month happen! City Schoolyard Garden is grateful to work in collaboration with Charlottesville City SchoolsLocal Food Hub, and Charlottesville Move2Health. Supported with funds through the Thomas Jefferson Health District of the Virginia Department of Health and other generous donors. Thanks to rock paper scissors for their design work and Desmond Cormier, Buford  Middle School Art Teacher for working with his students to produce the artwork. 

    Donate to keep Harvest of the Month growing!

City Schoolyard Garden is an independent, non-profit organization and your tax deductible donation makes a difference. Join us investing in our children's future, and providing them with a foundation for learning about health, nutrition, sustainability, and community. Click on the apple to donate or send a donation to our address below. Thank you!
P.O. Box 5285, Charlottesville, VA 22905
 
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