The Turnip (Brassica Rapa) belongs to the Cruciferous Cabbage tribe, being often found growing in waste places, though not truly wild. In this state it is worth nothing to man or beast; but, by cultivation, it becomes a most valuable food for cattle in the winter, and a good vegetable for our domestic uses. It exercises some aperient action, and the liquid in which turnips are boiled will increase the flow of urine. It is called also "bagie," and was the "gongyle" of the
Greeks, so named from the roundness of the root.
When mashed, and mixed with bread and milk, the Turnip makes
an excellent cleansing and stimulating poultice for indolent abscesses or sores.
The Scotch eat small, yellow-rooted Turnips as we do radishes. "Tastes and Turnips proverbially differ." At Plymouth, and some other places, when a girl rejects a suitor, she is said to "give him turnips," probably with reference to his sickly pallor of disappointment.
The seventeenth of June--as the day of St. Botolph, the old turnip man,--is distinguished by various uses of a Turnip, because in the Saga, which figuratively represents the seasons, the seeds were sown on that day.
It is told that the King of Bithynia in some expedition against the Scythians during the winter, and when at a great distance from the sea, had a violent longing for a small fish known as aphy--a pilchard, or anchovy. His cook cut a Turnip to a perfect imitation of its shape, which, when fried in oil, well salted, and powdered with the seeds of a dozen black poppies, so deceived the king that he praised the root at table as an excellent fish.
Being likely to provoke flatulent distension of the bowels, Turnips are not a proper vegetable for hysterical persons, or for pregnant women. The rind is acrimonious, but the tops, when young and tender, may be boiled for the table as a succulent source of potash, and other mineral salts in the Spring.
The fermented juice of Turnips will yield an ardent spirit. When properly cooked they serve to sweeten the blood. An essential volatile oil contained in the root, chiefly in the rind, disagrees, by provoking flatulent distension. This root is sometimes cut up and partly substituted for the peel and pulp of oranges in marmalade.
If Turnips are properly grown in dry, lean, sandy earth, a wholesome, agreeable sort of bread can be made from them, "of which we have eaten at the greatest persons' tables, and which is hardly to be distinguished from the best of wheat." Some persons roast Turnips in paper under the embers, and serve them with butter and sugar. The juice made into syrup is an old domestic remedy for coughs and hoarseness.
A nice wholesome dish of Piedmontese Turnips is thus prepared: Half boil your Turnip, and cut it in slices like half-crowns; butter a pie dish, and put in the slices, moisten them with a little milk and weak broth, sprinkle over lightly with bread crumbs, adding pepper and salt; then bake in the oven until the Turnips become of a light golden color.
The Turnip, a navew, or variety of Rape (navus), should never be sown in a rich soil, wherein it would become degenerate and lose its shape as well as its dry agreeable relish. Horace advised field-grown Turnips as preferable at a banquet to those of garden culture. They may be safely eaten when raw, having been at one time much consumed in Russia by the upper classes.
Turnips have been introduced into armorial bearings to represent a person of liberal disposition who relieves the poor.
Dr. Johnson's famous illustration of false logic ran thus:
"If a man fresh Turnips cries:
But cries not when his father dies,
Is this a proof the man would rather
Possess fresh Turnips than a father?"
The Primitive Simplers presented here show the way of life in other generations, it is not suggested or recommended trying them yourself.
History of Herbs
Herbs for Beginners
Drying & Preserving Herbs
Indoor Herb Gardening
Hints & Tips
Oil and Vinegar
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