It seemed like a good idea at the time, scattering a handful of turnip seeds across a 1×2.5 metre garden bed…

Now I think every last one must have germinated.  I have hundreds of turnips. Hundreds. At least it seems like it. I don’t even really like turnips that much,  but I thought I’d be broadminded and try some. Oops.

Turnips are best when they are young and small. Like most members of the same plant family (radishes, rocket, mustard…) they get hot and peppery and the flavour is more pronounced when they age. I need to use them NOW.

So today’s post sent me off in search of things to do with turnips. Quickly. There are only so many turnips you can give away to friends, family and neighbours before they start avoiding you. Surprisingly, I never get that reaction with raspberries.

Anyway here are some recipes I tried.

A winter gratin of vegetables with potato, sweet potato, caramelised onion, turnips, and swedes with some stock and soy milk with vegusto cheese sprinkled on top – great except for the turnips. I pushed them to the side of my plate like a child.

Turnip hash browns – these were OK but really would have been better with potato. Pretty second rate.

I was now desperate. I had a hunt around on the web and the one recurring turnip recipe was for lift or Lebanese pickled turnips.  This recipe is a keeper,  in both senses. The turnips are utterly transformed into crunchy, salty, sharp sticks that are great with hummus. They’ll be beautiful too, when the broad beans ripen and I make fresh broad bean felafel. It also has the advantage of using a LOT of turnips. I’ve gone from thinking I’ll never grow turnips again to thinking I need to grow them just to make these.

When I’ve seen them at middle eastern places I always thought that these had food colouring in them. But the colour comes from beetroot.

The most common recipe uses just water and white vinegar, with coarse salt, garlic and sometimes chilli. Some have sugar, but not many.  Here is one that I made.


lebanese pickled turnips
prep time
total time
recipe type: savoury
cuisine: lebanese
serves: lots!
  • ½ kg white turnips (peeled)
  • 2 small baby beetroot (peeled)
  • 3 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 1 small chilli (pierced in several places)
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 teaspoons coarse salt
  1. Cut turnips and beetroot into 1 cm thick batons (like thick cut chips or fries). Pack in a jar with the garlic cloves and chilli. Mix the vinegar and water; add salt and stir until dissolved. Pour over the turnips and beetroot. Cover with the lid and refrigerate for three days. Stir, rotating the vegetables in the jar. Refrigerate for three more days, then eat. They will last a month in the fridge.



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