Turnip tops

I’ve been sharing the menu for February from my Modern Practical Cookery book published around 1930 as far as I can tell. After halibut in a cheese sauce the suggestion is for crown roast of lamb, served with potatoes and turnip tops. I’ve seen so many recipes extorting us to eat all of a vegetable – Brussels sprout stalks, beetroot leaves, mushroom stems… in fact I’ve found a site which suggests eleven parts of vegetables we might normally throw away. Using all a vegetable isn’t a new thing, and it’s not driven by economic reasons; I imagine most of the readers and cooks using Modern Practical Cookery ninety years ago were just ordinary people, and judging by the menus in the Little Dinner section, they were comfortably off and quite posh!

Here are the instructions for preparing them:

Turnip tops

  • for six people allow 4 lbs of turnip tops
  1. pick them over and remove the outside leaves
  2. soak the tops in cold, salted water to cleanse them and wash very well (as they usually contain much grit)
  3. put into boiling salted water to cook (the recipe adds a little soda which was popular with cooking any greens, but not to our taste – too soapy)
  4. boil for about 20 mins until tender (for modern tastes probably much less)

In another part of the book there’s a recipe for cheesy eggs – with turnip tops, much as we might use spinach; the recipe asks for soda ‘enough to cover a threepenny-piece to every 2 quarts water’ – 2 quarts is four pints… these days we barely use enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, we don’t like drowning our veg!:

Cheese eggs on turnip tops

  • 3 lb turnip tops, prepared as above and well-drained, and excess water squeezed out, and finely chopped
  • 4 eggs, poached
  • 4 dsp grated cheese
  • 1 oz butter
  • salt and pepper
  • sippetts (croutons)
  1. melt the butter in a pan and add the turnip tops, season well
  2. when heated through (a couple of minutes at the most)
  3. place on serving dish and arrange the poached eggs on top
  4. sprinkle with the cheese and put under a grill to melt the cheese, taking care not to overcook the eggs
  5. serve with sippetts

Here’s a link to the information about the eleven delicious vegetable parts you should stop throwing away:


I have no pictures of turnips, their tops or poached eggs… here are some ghostly fried eggs.



    1. Lois

      It’s horrific isn’t it. Sometimes though, you buy things, especially fruit and they’ve been chilled and never ripen… even when the fruit is in season. I hate waste, i really do, nd our fridge is full of little pots of leftovers no-one ever eats. I did once try with the broccoli and sprout stems… they were pretty tasteless, and no-one but me even tried them!


  1. david lewis

    Most of those discarded parts of the vegetables went into the hog wash years ago. The pigs were getting more nutrition in there slop than the humans. Don’t see that many sick pigs.

    Liked by 1 person

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