Why Do Turnips Have Wax On Them? (ANSWERED)

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Why do turnips have wax on them?

Have you ever picked up a turnip at your local market and noticed it had kind of an unnatural sheen to it. If you have, then you have handled a waxed turnip. More than likely, if you have noticed this, you asked yourself. Why do turnips have wax on them?

In this article, we will attempt to answer that question and discuss:

  • How to remove the wax from turnips.
  • Is the wax on turnips edible?
  • How long waxed turnips last.

So, why do turnips have wax on them?

turnip wax

Generally, if it has wax on it, you are looking at rutabagas instead of turnips, but not always. Rutabagas are commonly waxed, while the practice is less frequently used on turnips. That being said, the reason for waxing any fruit or vegetable is to extend its shelf life. 

Coating turnips or other produce accomplishes two things. One, wax locks in moisture, preventing them from drying out and losing that fresh-picked look. Two, the wax seals out air, preventing oxidation and microbial growth. Again this helps keep vegetables and fruits looking farm fresh even if shipped halfway around the world.

How do you get the wax off turnips?

scrub turnips

The surest way to remove wax from turnips is to peel it away. Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler cut away the outer layer removing the wax with the skin of the turnip.

An alternate method is to use a vegetable scrubber to clean the outer surface of the turnip. Scrubbing is less sure to get all the wax but will leave the healthy skin in place.

Is the wax on turnips edible?

food-grade wax turnip

According to government classifications, all waxes used on fruits and vegetables, including turnips, are food-grade wax and “generally regarded as safe” for human consumption. However, many are petroleum-based and have the potential to harbor trace amounts of solvents or trap pesticides. 

Turnips that are sold as organic can only be coated with natural waxes that have been certified non-toxic. Carnauba and beeswax are the most commonly used. While natural waxes are perhaps safer than petroleum-based waxes, to avoid eating wax altogether, it is still advisable to remove them before using your turnips. 

How long will a waxed turnip last?

waxed turnip

Turnips that have been waxed and are kept in cold storage will generally last 4-5 months before showing any signs of aging. In a home refrigerator, 2-4 months is a more reasonable estimate for a waxed turnip.