Turnips are a rich source of minerals and vitamins

Turnips have been cultivated in central and southern Europe for over 4,000 years. Today, the root is a popular throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe. Before the turnip became the favourite of the royals, it was regarded as a humble food. According to legend, the Samnites, who sent ambassadors bearing gold to seduce Curius Dentatus (270 BC) from his allegiance, gave up their attempt when they discovered him roasting turnips in a hearth. The Samnites realised they could never tempt with gold a man who preferred so spartan a food. Columella, the 1st century AD Latin writer on agriculture and author of a 12-volume tome on husbandry, described turnip farming in Roman Europe.The Romans ate turnips with oil, honey, vinegar and cumin. During Henrys VIII's time, turnips were eaten baked or roasted. Before potatoes made their way to Europe from the Americas, turnip was a staple on European dining tables. Before Charles "Turnip" Townshend (1674-1738), 2nd Viscount of Raynham, popularised turnips as a winter livestock feed in Europe, cattle were butchered before fall because most farmers could not afford winter hay. Turnips helped avoid the yearly glut of unsold meat, and kept cattle alive and fat through winter. Leaves and root are the edible parts of turnips. The leaves are common ingredients in the `soul' cuisine of African Americans. In Europe, the root is a popular addition to many warming winter stews. The roots are edible cooked, as well as raw, and turnip slices figure in many salads and soups. In the Orient, turnip strips are preferred stir-fried. About 100 gm of turnip root contains just 30 calories, and contains Vitamin C. The leaves contain fewer calories - 23 per 100 gm, and are rich in Thiamine and Vitamin C. Turnips are also a good source of riboflavin, magnesium, carotene, manganese, folate, calcium and iron. Turnip seeds are rich in fatty acids and were a traditional remedy for cancer in European culture. Crushed ripe seeds were used in poultices for burns. RAJIV. M

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