Did you get some Hakurei turnips in your CSA box? Or maybe you saw some at the farm stand and thought ‘what are those? and how do I cook them?’ Well, you’re in luck because Hakurei turnips are the latest entry in my ingredient spotlight series.
I love Hakurei turnips and I’m excited to share my love of them with y’all! 🙂 Hakurei turnips are wonderful, versatile vegetables that will have you rethinking what it means to be a turnip. I have some bullet points – where they come from, what they taste like, nutritional info, and how to cook them – which I hope will have you looking forward to getting a few bunches to try.
What is it?
Hakurei turnips are a mild, white salad turnip. They grow to about the size of a large radish, though without the bite. They can be cooked, but they are also delicious raw. They don’t even need to be peeled since the skin is so thin and tender. Just wash them up and slice them up! And don’t discard the greens. The greens can be used in any cooked recipe which uses kale, chard, beet greens, or other ‘more hardy’ greens. Hakurei turnips are available in the late spring (or whenever the weather gets warm where you are – June is the month for us), have a dip in the hottest weather of the summer, and then show up again in the late summer and fall. If you live in a cool region, you may see them throughout the growing season.
Where does it come from?
Hakurei turnips were first cultivated in Japan, and they are often called Japanese turnips. They were developed in Japan in the 1950s and have made their way to the US in recent decades. Currently, your bet bet at finding these turnips in the US is to visit your local farm stand or farmer’s market.
What does it taste like?
The flavor is quite mild, even a little sweet, but with a titch of a peppery bite, which keeps them from being bland. Some people think they taste a bit fruity as well. They have a definite crispness which is wonderful when they are used raw, as in salad, but can be a little watery if you are cooking with them. I find I need to get a good caramelization and evaporation going when I roast them to really bring out their flavor. The greens are rather similar to mustard greens in flavor, though not as sharp.
Be sure to cut the greens off the roots when you get them home. Leaving the greens on will cause the turnips to soften and go bad much faster. With the greens cut off, they will keep for a couple of weeks. Also, the greens are best kept wrapped in damp cloths and stored in the fridge. They will keep for several days if properly stored.
What’s the nutritional info?
The turnip globes are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, and many B vitamin; as well as magnesium and potassium. However, the greens are really where it’s at, so don’t skip them. They are high in calcium, many different vitamins, all sorts of minerals, and cancer fighting phytonutrients. Eat your greens!
How do you cook it?
The easiest way to cook Hakurei turnips is not to cook them at all. Just slice them thinly and toss them into a salad. However, I do have some other ideas!
- Braised Hakurei Turnips – a very simple stove top recipe for turnips which brings out their sweetness
- Sauteed Japanese Turnips with Turnip Greens – a simple saute which caramelizes the turnips on the stove top
- Roasted Turnips with Buttered Greens – this recipe also uses the turnips and the greens
- Mashed Turnips with Goat Cheese and Leeks – try mashed turnips instead of potatoes!
- Turnip Soup with Turnip Greens – Hakurei turnips make a creamy, sweet soup
- Also, use them as crudites in dips, shred them into slaws, and slice them onto sandwiches
Here are my recipes for Hakurei turnips. I will be updating this list as I add more to the site.