It is a white bulb taproot vegetable. Broad at the base, it points like a tail at the apex. The leaves and the root have a pungent bitterly taste, similar to raw cabbages and radishes. Turnips are available all year long, but are at their best in fall and spring, when they are small and sweet.
An average size of a shalgam is similar to that of an apple having purple colour at the base and slowly fading to white at the apex. The base colour may vary depending on the amount of sunlight received.
Shalgams are commonly classified based on their size, colour of the outer root and colour of the inner flesh. Commonly found varieties of turnip is the European variety. It has a purple base fading to white while it reaches apex. There are also golden yellow and red-skinned colours in the European variety. It is said that May and Teltow are the finest varieties of turnips available today.
Shalgam leaves are often eaten as green leaves and have the flavour of mustard greens. Turnip is an important ingredient in authentic South American cooking.
Turnips can be eaten raw. They can be served with dip or chopped and added to salads Most common practice is to cook the turnip and consume as a vegetable. They can be roasted, mashed, baked, or added to soups as well as stews.
Shalgam contains high antioxidant properties that helps reduce the risk of cancer.
Turnips are very low calorie root vegetables which are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E and K. The high content of vitamin C helps repair damaged cell tissue.
Turnips have high amounts of potassium that maintains fluid balance and blood pressure.
How to buy
Look for brightly colored turnips with creamy looking bulbs and a violet-hued ring around the tops. Baby turnips may not have developed their violet tops and may look like somewhat large white spring radishes. In fall and spring, look for turnips with their greens attached to be sure they were freshly harvested.
How to store
If you buy turnips with their greens attached, remove the greens when you get them home. Clean and store the turnips loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the crisper of the fridge.
Did you know?
Drinking turnip juice aids reducing body odour gradually.
It is believed that turnip has become a domesticated crop before the 15th century B.C.