Turnips might not seem that exciting to you, but they’ve actually had an interesting part in history. Turnips were the first Jack-o-Lanterns in Ireland and Scotland. They were carved to ward off evil spirits and other unwanted travelers and eventually became a Halloween tradition. Irish and Scottish immigrants brought the tradition with them to North America, where they discover pumpkins are perfect for carving faces.
The origin of the carved turnip began with Irish folklore. The legend is about a man they called Jack O’Lantern who was condemned to roam the earth for eternity after playing tricks on the devil. He carried with him a carved-out turnip with a burning coal inside to light his way.
Check out more facts about turnips.
- Turnips are in the same family, Brassicaceae family, with cabbages and crucifers.
- There are over 30 different varieties that differ in color, size, and flavor. Purple-top turnips are the most common.
- Smaller turnips are typically grown for human consumption, while the larger varieties are grown for livestock feed.
- The vegetable does not have a long growing season and is a cool-season crop.
- Turnips are mostly white-skinned, except for the part of the vegetable that is above ground where the sun has it. That area is usually purple, red, or greenish.
- Most of England calls the smaller white vegetable turnips and the larger yellow vegetable swedes, while in the U.S. turnips are the same, but the larger vegetables are called rutabagas.
- The record for heaviest turnip was grown by Scott and Mardie Robb and weighed over 39lbs. It won at the Alaska State Fair in 2004.
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