Do You Peel Turnips Before Cooking Them?

By Joshua McCarron

A turnip is a root vegetable that sometimes comes with the greens still attached, but it's usually found in the produce department as just the milky-white and purple root on its own. Different cooking methods and size can influence whether you should peel the vegetable.

rustic organic turnips on genuine wood background for vegetarian food
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Do You Peel Turnips Before Cooking Them?

What to Look For

Smaller turnips are usually younger and taste sweeter and more delicate. The root end should still be attached and the skin of the turnip should feel smooth and be free of blemishes. When you pick up a turnip, it should feel heavier than it looks and firm when you give it a squeeze.

Larger, more mature turnips have more of a woody taste.

The ideal turnip has a sweet aroma.

When to Peel

Always remove the roots and stems before cooking, but most of the time the decision to peel the outer skin is a personal one. Consider peeling them with a basic vegetable peeler if they're large and potentially taste bitter, or if you plan to roast or bake them in the oven. Cut up these larger turnips into quarters for the best flavor.

When Not to Peel

Boiling is a common way to cook turnips, and there's no need to peel if you choose this method. Just cut off the stem, place the turnips in the boiling water and cook for up to 30 minutes. You can also boil the greens at the same time if you're using them.

If you don't end up peeling the turnip before baking it, you can slide the skin and root off when it comes out of the oven and cools down.

Smaller baby turnips don't require peeling whether you boil, bake, roast or sauté them.

Freezing and Storage

The peak season for turnips is from October to March, but they're available all year in most grocery stores. Keep turnips in the fridge for up to two weeks without worrying about spoilage.

Turnips don't require peeling prior to freezing. First, blanch them in boiling water for about 3 minutes. This helps prevent the enzymes in the turnip from breaking it down. Cool them in ice water for a few minutes immediately after blanching, then dry and seal them tightly in a container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to nine months.