Top 10 Heirloom Turnips to Grow in 2024

Top 10 Heirloom Turnips to Grow This Year

If you’re a homesteader or gardener, you know that growing your own food is one of the most rewarding experiences. In fact, it is a downright essential part of being a homesteader! Heirloom turnips are an excellent addition to any organic garden for many reasons. Did you know that they are actually a fast-growing vegetable perfect for beginners, extremely easy to tend to, and they are full of vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, folate and niacin among others? They are also extremely versatile, as the roots and the greens are both used in a variety of recipes.

In this post, I’ll go over the best heirloom turnips to grow in your garden for all kinds of uses, including roasting, mashing, pickling, salads, soups and turnip greens.

But wait, you might say. Yes, turnips aren’t exactly the coolest or most popular vegetables to grow, like a nice, juicy heirloom cherry tomato or sweet and crunchy snap pea might be. You might even have some not-so-fond memories of turnips from childhood.

I love beets and borscht, for instance, but if you so much as mention the word borscht to my dad, he recoils in horror from being made to eat it all the time growing up. If you’re like this with any of these “health food” type veggies, don’t worry! There are so many amazing recipes at your fingertips to try out, and turnips are (dare I say) more versatile than beets in terms of flavor profile.

Not sure about turnips? Check out this recipe for crispy parmesan crusted smashed turnips or this gorgeous (and keto friendly) turnip fried rice – are you kidding me?? I firmly believe that you can make any vegetables delicious once you find the right way to cook them. We love experimenting with new ways to cook things and exploring new flavor profiles – am I right? Bland, boiled veggies are OUT!

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, there is definitely a turnip on this list that will suit your needs. From turnips perfect for pickling or roasting to turnips grown for their delicious turnip greens, you are certain to find a variety or few that’s perfect for you to try out. So, without further ado, let’s check out the top 10 best heirloom turnips to grow in your garden!

Why grow heirloom turnips?

Heirloom turnips are varieties that have been passed down through generations and have stood the test of time for their unique, old-world flavors, colors and hardiness. There are so many wonderful benefits of growing heirloom vegetables, and I always opt for heirloom varieties in my garden.

Turnips are an ancient crop, dating back thousands of years, and they are extremely hardy and nutritious. They likely originated in Northern Europe and eventually made their way east to China and Japan by 700 AD. Some of the turnips on my list have been around for centuries and longer, while others are more recent introductions over the past 50 years or so.

Above all that, turnips are cold hardy, so they are great for growers in cooler climates with a shorter growing season and will still give you prolific harvests. They also store well in cool and dark areas like a root cellar, so you can do another round of planting in the mid to late summer for a great fall harvest that will last you long past Thanksgiving.

Top 10 Heirloom Turnips

1. Golden Globe

Golden Globe is an heirloom turnip variety that has been around since the mid-1800s. As the name suggests, it has beautiful golden flesh, a sweet and mild flavor and a fine texture. They are excellent versatile turnips that can be mashed and roasted very well, and they can even be sliced thin or shredded and added to salads for a pop of sweetness. If you are just starting out growing and eating turnips, this would be one of the best heirloom turnips to start with! Harvest these turnips when they are about 3-4” around for the best results.

Days to maturity: 70

Best harvested at: 3-4” diameter

Best for: roasting, mashing, salads

2. Purple Top White Globe

The Purple Top White Globe turnip is another classic heirloom variety and has been popular since the late 1800s. Unsurprisingly, this heirloom turnip has a globe-shaped root with a purple top and white base. The purple and white contrast is really beautiful on these turnips! This variety is also mildly flavored and sweet, and the flesh is crisp, fine and white. This is another excellent versatile variety for beginners and experts alike. The young turnip greens can be harvested and eaten as well.

Days to maturity: 55

Best harvested at: 3” diameter

Best for: roasting, mashing, salads

3. Snowball

The Snowball turnip is a popular heirloom variety dating back to 1885. It is loved for its pure white flesh and sweet, mild flavor. It is a fast crop, being ready to harvest in about six weeks, and it is particularly lovey to grate raw or slice finely into salads. Harvest these when they are about 3” in diameter or a little smaller for the best taste and texture!

Days to maturity: 40-45

Best harvested at: 2.5-3” diameter

Best for: salads

4. Sugukina

The Sugukina turnip is a unique and highly sought after variety. Originally from Japan, this traditional heirloom turnip is by far one of the best turnips for pickling. It has white, conical-shaped roots that are best harvested when they are young and tender. Sugukina heirloom turnips are traditionally pickled with salt and known as Sugukizuke, which have been enjoyed for over 300 years!

Sugukina turnips are also good in soups, salads and stir-fries, and you can grow them as healthy microgreens as well.

Days to maturity: 25-45 depending on type of harvest

Best harvested at: 2-3” diameter

Best for: pickling, soups, salads

5. Gold Ball

Looking to make the perfect rich, buttery mashed turnips that melt in your mouth? You’ll want to get your hands on some of these. Gold Ball heirloom turnips are smooth, fine-grained and are considered one of the best tasting turnips out there. They are best harvested anywhere between 3 to 5” – the young turnips make a great addition to salads, and the fully mature turnips are great for storing into the fall. Speaking of storage, Gold Ball turnips do store well, so consider planting some in late June or July to store into the cooler months.

Days to maturity: 70

Best harvested at: 3-5”

Best for: mashing, roasting, salads

6. Red Round

This heirloom turnip variety looks like a big ol’ radish! Red Round is a traditional Japanese heirloom turnip with a scarlet red outside and bright white inside with pink dappled throughout. It’s very pretty! Because of their gorgeous and striking appearance, these turnips are excellent to slice up raw and display on platters and salads. Red Round turnips also pickle well and make great additions to soups, so they are still very versatile, but if you’re looking for the best heirloom turnips for salads, I’d say this is one of them!

Days to maturity: 50

Best harvested at: 3”

Best for: salads

7. Hida Beni

The Hida Beni turnip is another traditional Japanese heirloom turnip. This variety has beautiful magenta skin and a flattened globular root. Hida Beni turnips are tender and mild, which means they make wonderful Japanese-style pickles and are another variety that works very well in salads.

Days to maturity: 45-50

Best harvested at: 4”

Best for: pickling, salads

Best Heirloom Turnips for Greens

8. Seven Top

Seven Top has got to be one of the best heirloom turnips for greens, if not THE best – it’s almost entirely rootless! Seven Top is one of the few heirloom turnip varieties developed entirely for its greens. Grow this variety and you will get a wonderful bounty of beautiful, lush turnip greens packed with vitamins A, B and C. The roots tend to get woody and are generally considered inedible, so if you’re not a fan of turnip roots but looking for some healthy leafy greens, this is the variety to get! The flavor is comparable to mustard greens, and they make a great addition to a mixed green salad.

Days to maturity: 45-65

Best harvested at: 10-12” long (leaves)

Best for: greens, salads

9. Shogoin

Looking for a fast-growing turnip? Shogoin is a classic Japanese heirloom variety that is enjoyed for both its tender roots and its tall, slender greens. Being a Japanese turnip, the roots make great pickles and can be eaten raw and in soups, and its greens can be harvested when they are in their baby stage or after they grow nice and big – they can reach two feet tall! This is an excellent fast-growing, dual-purpose turnip.

Days to maturity: 30-40

Best harvested at: any size

Best for: greens, salads, pickling

10. Nozawana

Nozawana is actually more of a turnip-adjacent variety than a true turnip, although you may see it called Japanese turnip greens. It does come from the same family (brassica rapa) but is actually a Japanese variety of mustard leaf. It is well known for its mild, slightly peppery flavor and large leaves that can reach two feet tall at maturity.

Nozawana is most commonly pickled and served as a side in traditional Japanese cuisine. In fact, pickled and fermented foods are a staple in almost every traditional Japanese meal – the word for this type of dish is tsukemono. Check out this article on how to pickle Nozawana greens!

Days to maturity: 30-40

Best harvested at: any size

Best for: greens, pickling

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed my list of the best heirloom turnips to grow in your garden. Whether you prefer turnips in salads, soups, roasted or pickled, there are definitely some great choices to try out!

Do you have a favorite way to eat turnips? Have I inspired you to try out something new? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for some more awesome heirloom vegetables to grow? Check out my other posts, including the best heirloom beets, carrots, sauce tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans (among plenty others!)

Happy growing!

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