Turnips are one of those vegetables that seem to keep forever, but that doesn’t mean they will if they are incorrectly stored. It also doesn’t mean we should neglect them and not think about how to maximize their shelf life.
We’re going to explore how to store turnips and how you can tell if a turnip is past the point where you should eat it, as well as a few ‘Do Not Do’ things that you should avoid when creating your turnip storage.
HarvestRight tells us that root vegetables shouldn’t be kept in the fridge because they don’t cope well with the cold. The high humidity can also cause rotting, and storing in the fridge can even spoil the flavor. However, turnips are one of the exceptions to that rule, as they tolerate cold and humidity well, and can be kept in the fridge without any issue.
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How To Store Turnips Properly
Whether you are harvesting your own turnips or purchasing them from a store, you should remove the green tops (if they are there when you buy them) before you store your turnips. The tops will pull moisture from the vegetable over time, and will result in a shriveled, wrinkly turnip that is dry and unpleasant. Not ideal!
Cut the tops off with scissors or a sharp knife. If you have harvested the turnips yourself, gently knock off excess soil. Do not wash the turnips, even if you have bought them from the store and they are dirty; the soil will help to protect the surface while they are being stored.
If you have washed them, don’t worry, but make sure you dry them thoroughly.
Turnips like to be stored as cold as possible, but not frozen (so don’t put them in your freezer!). Most people recommend wrapping them in a damp cloth to help them retain their moisture, and then storing them in the crisper drawer of a fridge. You can do exactly the same with the greens if you wish to keep and eat these.
If you haven’t got room in your fridge, don’t despair; there are other storage methods. Remember, we have been eating turnips for far longer than we have had fridges.
You should get a large, plastic container and fill it with damp sand, going up to about the halfway mark.
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You could use containers like these IRS USA TB Pearl Plastic Storage Bins because the food will never come into contact with the plastic. However, if you would prefer something specifically food safe, try something like this Rubbermaid Food Storage Box. Either should be large enough to store a few turnips, but you may need a bigger container if you have a large harvest.
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Bury each turnip with its top facing down in the sand, at least two inches away from other turnips. Do not allow them to touch each other, and completely cover them with the sand.
You should then place these containers in a cool, well ventilated space for storage. A lid should be placed loosely on top (not sealed in place) and you must make sure that bugs cannot easily access them, so don’t store them on the floor.
Check them regularly for any turnips that are going off, and remove these before they can contaminate the rest.
How Long Can Turnips Be Stored For?
Turnips that are stored using either method can last for about five to six months in good conditions, particularly if you are prompt about removing any rotting ones that might harm the others. It might seem odd to store turnips in sand, but this is the traditional method for making the most of this vegetable.
Turnips that are clustered together are much more likely to rot, so if you can separate them, do so. With plenty of space and a cool, damp environment, the turnips should keep very well for months. When you are ready to use them, simply dig them up, wash them well, and enjoy!
Turnip greens will not keep nearly so long. Depending on how fresh they are, they may only last a few days, even with careful storage. If you are going to use the greens, do so soon after removing them from the plant.
How To Tell If Turnips Are Bad
Like all root vegetables, the biggest clue is likely to be in how they feel and how they look. A turnip that has gone a little wrinkly should still be safe to eat, especially cooked into a soup or stew, where you are unlikely to notice the texture.
However, if a turnip has majorly discolored or gone squishy in any areas, it is not safe to eat. Mold or mildew on the surface are signs it should be discarded.
Any odd smell is a further indication that the turnip is no longer good. If in doubt, cut a turnip open and check for decay inside, in case a bug has got in. The flesh should be firm and slightly damp. If it is very dry or spongey, the turnip is probably no good to eat anymore.
Turnip greens that have gone off will wilt, yellow, and turn mushy. They may also smell unpleasant, and will be clearly inedible from both the look and the texture. Don’t use them for cooking; they are best discarded.
Avoid These Mistakes When Storing Turnips
- Washing turnips prior to storing them, as this makes them more likely to rot.
- Storing turnips at room temperature or in a sunny spot.
- Storing turnips close to other turnips, or fruits that release a lot of ethylene gas, such as bananas and apples (this will speed up the ripening process).
- Cutting open turnips or otherwise breaking the skin before storing them; this will promote swift rotting. Any cut turnips should be stored in the fridge and used up quickly.
Keep Your Turnips Fresh Longer
Turnips can keep for amazingly long periods of time if we store them correctly, and that fortunately doesn’t mean you have to cram your fridge full every harvest season.
If you are buying a few turnips at the store, put them in the fridge, but if you grow your own, utilize the traditional method of burying them in an insulating medium and keeping them in a cool spot.