Turnips are a root vegetable that is common in the cold months as that is when they are at their prime. If you have brought home a bundle from the farm stand or local market, you may find that you cannot get through them all. Luckily, turnips freeze well and can be frozen a few different ways: diced and blanched, cooked and mashed, or roasted. Whether you have a few turnips or dozens, the freezer is an excellent way to preserve them.
How to Freeze Fresh Turnips
For many vegetables, it is best to partially cook them before freezing. This is called "blanching," which means cooking the vegetable or fruit just enough to destroy enzymes that could affect the food's flavor and color. Before beginning the process, it is best to have the turnips (small to medium are ideal) and all of the equipment ready; a large wire steaming basket is an excellent container for immersing the turnips in the boiling water and then placing into the ice water.
- Scrub the turnips and peel them. Cut into small cubes, about 1/2-inch in size.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
- Bring a large stockpot of water to a rapid boil over high heat.
- Add about 1 pound of the turnips to the boiling water. When the water comes back to a boil, set a timer for 2 minutes.
- Drain the turnips (saving the water for additional batches) and immediately transfer them to the ice water to stop the cooking.
- Drain the turnips again and spread out on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours.
- Pack them into freezer storage bags or freezer containers. Remove as much air from the bag as possible, label the bags, and freeze them for up to 12 months.
- Add blanched frozen turnips to soups, stews, pot roast, or corned beef, or boil them until tender and then mash or puree.
How to Freeze Mashed Turnips
Mashed turnips are a wonderful accompaniment to roasted meats, especially lamb. Similar in appearance to mashed potatoes, this root vegetable has a sharp taste and creamy texture when mashed up. Have this side dish at the ready by making and freezing ahead of time.
- Wash, trim, and peel the turnips, and then cut into chunks.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add the turnips to the boiling water. Cover the pan and cook for about 25 minutes, or until fork-tender.
- Drain the turnips well. Mash or puree them in a blender and set aside to cool.
- Pack into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, or seal in freezer bags.
- Label the containers including the date and freeze for up to 3 months.
How to Freeze Roasted Turnips
As with many other vegetables, roasting turnips is a favored method for preparing the vegetable. The time in the oven mellows out the somewhat sharp flavor and makes the vegetable nice and tender. Put together dinner in a snap by roasting and freezing the turnips ahead of time.
- Heat the oven to 425 F.
- Wash the turnips; peel them and then cut into 1/2-inch cubes or wedges.
- In a bowl, toss the turnips with some olive oil and salt (about 1 tablespoon of oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound).
- Spread the turnips out on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for about 30 minutes, or until fork-tender.
- Remove the turnips from the oven and let them cool in the pan. Put the pan in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until the turnips are frozen.
- Transfer the frozen roasted turnips to freezer bags. Label the bags including the date and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Add the frozen roasted turnips to soups and stews or reheat them in a 350 F oven until hot and serve them along with a roasted chicken. Season them lightly with complementary herbs and spices, if desired, before serving.
Tips When Using Freezer Bags
When freezing food in zip-top bags, it is important that you remove as much air as possible. If you do a lot of freezing, a vacuum sealing system makes sense. If you don't have one, and you are using freezer bags, you can use the straw method. Put the food in the bag and close, leaving just enough room for a straw. Insert the straw and suck out the air, then quickly complete the seal.
Another way to remove the air from the bags is the water displacement method. Fill the sink, large bowl, or pot with water. Partially seal the bag, leaving a small portion unsealed so the air can escape. Carefully submerge the bag into the water almost to the top, being careful not to let the water into the opening of the bag. The water pressure will force the air from the bag. Once the air is out of the bag, seal it and remove the bag from the water.