RUTABAGAS: what are they and what can you do with them?

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I always thought I was looking at big yellow turnips, but it turns out they were rutabagas (Brassica napus), cruciferous vegetables.
It is believed that rutabagas evolved as a cross between a cabbage and turnip.
Historically, rutabagas became popular in Scandinavia, particularly in Sweden, which is how they came to be called “swedes” in Europe. They were brought to America in the early 1800s, and were cultivated in the north. Today, rutabagas are cultivated primarily in Canada and the northern U.S. states.

Rutabagas areroot vegetables.  They look like quite like turnips, with yellowish/orange-ish flesh.  Although they are not a very common food on the American table, they have a delicate sweet flavor reminiscent of cabbage and turnip.

Rutabagas store well, lasting for several weeks in the refrigerator, and for months in commercial storage.  As a result, in many places, they are available year round.  They are commonly planted in May and June and  harvested late in the summer or in the early fall.  The best time to find rutabagas in farmers’ markets or other fresh produce vendors is in the early fall.

While most people cook rutabagas, they are quite delicious raw.

After they have been peeled, they can be sliced thinly and eaten as snacks. They may also be chopped, diced, grated, or minced, and included in salads.
Grated rutabagas make a nice addition to cole slaw.
Grated rutabagas combined with grated carrots also make a good salad.

Some raw food authors also suggest that grated rutabaga can be used as a “rice substitute”, i.e., to simulate the texture of rice in certain dishes.

One nice combination is grated or minced rutabaga with finely chopped red bell pepper, with a little olive oil mixed in. (Optional additions, according to taste, include a drop or two of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, or a little apple cider vinegar)

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2 responses to “RUTABAGAS: what are they and what can you do with them?

  1. Can the leaves of the Rutabaga be eaten like Turnip Greens can?

    • I eat any leaves that come on my vegetables. Some people like to put them in salads, or in green smoothies. Usually I do my marinated greens recipe with them. If they turn out bitter, I can a soaked, ground date, or some agave syrup

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