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On May 2, 1787, George Washington noted in his diary that the turnip patch had been sown “in front of the Mansion house.” That summer, which he spent presiding a the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, he stayed in touch with his farm manager, sending questions about the turnips’ welfare as well as that of other vegetables planted at his various farms.

Harvested for winter use, turnips prepared with this straightforward Hannah Glasse recipe provide a tasty, easy-to-prepare cold-weather dish. Serve the diced turnips in pieces tossed with butter and cream, as suggested below, or mash them roughly or until creamy, if preferred. This recipe is a modern adaptation by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.


  • 2 1/2 pounds turnips, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper


1. Put the turnips in a large saucepan, barely cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until the turnips are fork-tender. Remove from the heat and drain thoroughly.

2. Return the turnips to the saucepan, and set over low heat. Add the butter and stir until melted. Stir in the cream, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until well blended and heated through.

3. Pour the turnips into a serving dish, and send to the table.

Serves 6 to 8