The Turnip (<i>Brassica rapa</i> L. subsp. <i>rapa</i>) in Eastern Tyrol (Lienz district; Austria)
AbstractThe turnip (Brassica rapa L. ssp. rapa), has been a very important crop in the Alps for centuries. It’s main uses were food and fodder. The fermented turnips (Ruebenkraut) used to be, as was sauerkraut, a very important winter foodstuff. The importance of turnips in Alpine countries is shown by the fact that they were even shown on the coat of arms belonging to noble families. Today, however, only a few remaining farmers still grow and process turnips. These farmers were approached in 1997/98 within an ethnobotanical inventory and 2003/04 with semistructured interviews covering agronomy, processing and trade, as well as the cultural context of the turnip. One farmer was chosen for in-depth interviews and participant observation during the cultivation and processing of turnips. The results show that the few remaining farmers still hold the full knowledge necessary to successfully produce fermented turnip, including soil management, sowing, crop management, harvest, storage, processing and the propagation of seeds. In the families, where production of lactic acid fermented turnips is economically important, this knowledge is still passed on to younger members of the family. The survival of the cultivation of turnip by a few farmers is closely related to the high local appreciation of the specific taste for fermented turnips whereas the various uses and different stories belonging to the cultural context of the turnip are in danger of disappearing from the region.
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