This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Like the grain of cereals, roots are to be regarded as storehouses of nutriment for the support of the young plant when produced in its first growth. The reserve nutriment thus laid up in the roots, and tubers, is chiefly starch, so that it must be remembered that they supply only one of the needful elements for human and animal sustenance, and development. But roots are by no means altogether destitute of mineral ingredients, chiefly as salts of potash. The water, sparingly used, in which roots are cooked, and which therefore gets to contain much of the soluble salts, should be utilized, or the roots should be cooked by steam. Already the Beet, the Carrot, the Onion, the Parsnip, the Horse Radish, and the Potato, have been told of in these pages; besides which the common Radish, and the Turnip, remain to be considered.
The Swede is of medicinal benefit for a chronic cough; it should be cut in slices like a loaf of bread, and each slice sprinkled with brown sugar, then placing these slices again in their order, so as to reform the Swede, and allowing it to stand thus in a dish for some hours. The juice which runs therefrom is an excellent remedy for an old cough. Or again, "For a hoarsenesse, take a turnip, scoop out a hole from the top, and fill it up with brown sugar candy, and so roast it in the embers, and eat it with butter" (Rare and select Secrets in Physick and Chirurgery, 1653). The Swede, as well as the Turnip, when mashed, makes an excellent cleansing and stimulating poultice for indolent sores. In Southern America turnips are never sent to table in winter without a suspicion of added sugar to restore the flavour of which the frost has deprived them. Carlyle, writing from Chelsea (1842) to E. Fitzgerald, who had been excavating the supposed actual site of the battle of Naseby, north-west of his village, Woodbridge, said, "I will ask for a tooth, or a bullet, authenticated by your own eyes, and your word of honour. And our Scotch friend, too, making manure of it! he is part of the picture. I understand that almost all the Netherland battlefields have already given up their bones to British husbandry.
Why not the old English next? Honour to thrift! If of five thousand wasted men you can make a few usable turnips, why, do it! "