Beets vs Turnip: Battle of the Vegetables!

beets vs turnips

How can you truly distinguish beets from turnips? Both are root vegetables and have a lot of nutritional value in them. But to start with let’s take a look into the background of each vegetable. 

The Difference Between Beets and Turnips

Background and History

Beets are known to be biennial plants which means that they grow within a two-year span, and they actually belong to the family Amaranthaceae with the scientific name Beta vulagaris. They are commonly identified for their deep purple colored roots. 

On the other hand, turnips are also biennial plants and come from the Brassicaceae family (mustard family). They are of a pale white color with light purplish tones on its top. 

In terms of their history, both plants have been known to be grown since prehistoric times. Specifically, the beets were initially cultivated in the Middle East during ancient times and were used as a treatment for digestion problems, and blood illnesses, and in the midst of the 19th century the beetroot juice has been used to color some wines. 

The turnip, on another note, has been around for about 4,000 years already for human consumption, and in 1985, people used turnips as lanterns during Halloween.

Taste, and how they’re cooked

In terms of their flavor, the beetroot is somewhat of an eccentric earth-like taste, with a splash of sweet aftertaste. They are also said to have a high sugar value and are usually roasted in order to let it emphasize its sweetness. While the turnip tastes more like cabbage with a lighter, refreshing, and pepper-like taste. 

They can be eaten either raw or cooked, but just like the beetroot is best served roasted so that its flavor would be brought out. Both the beetroot and turnip are known root vegetables with greens that are also available for consumption. 

They are both needed to be peeled and can be taken in raw, or best when cooked and/or roasted, but it’s best to take note that leaving the peel, and stem of the beetroot while on the stove can help retain its flavor and color. Lastly, they are fat-free, and cholesterol-free which means that these two are very good for you. 

Can’t find some beets for your daily dose of superfood? Or turnips for your salad? Here are some alternatives for your beets, and turnips if you can’t find them in your local grocery store.

Beets don’t have as many substitutes compared to the turnip, as the only forms you can get are canned beets or beefsteak tomatoes. While for turnips you can have a range of alternatives, of which are the following: Asian radishes, black radishes, broccoli stems, celeriac, rutabaga, kohlrabi, parsnip, salsify, parsley root. 

However, one has to take note that even if they are somewhat alike, you can never switch your good old beets and turnips when it comes to your recipes. 

Despite both turnips and beets having greens that can be eaten anytime, beets are more famous than the other as they have been more popularized through time. 

And in terms of their greens, they have been used widely in the salad industry (specifically their younger and softer greens) while the rougher greens are usually cooked. Food Substitutions Bible actually stated that if you want to switch your beet greens out, you can have mature spinach, red or green chard leaves, or turnip greens as an alternative. 

On the other hand, for the turnip greens, and roots, a lot of possible alternatives can be chosen from mustard greens, to dandelion ones, and even to kohlrabi greens. 

To sum things up, turnips are just less sweet than beets, and they came from different plant families as the beets came from the same family as the Swiss chard, while turnips are close relatives with the broccoli! And lastly, their greens are so alike that you can use them either way.