Rutabaga is considered to be a variety of turnip, and is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. Rutabagas are larger in size and sweeter than turnips. Rutabagas are popular in regions like Scandinavia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom because they grow better in colder climates. The name “rutabaga” comes from the Swedish word rotabagge, which means “baggy root.” Rutabagas are also commonly referred to as Swedes, Neeps, or Swedish Turnips.
Rutabagas are high in carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, and several minerals, particularly calcium. Rutabagas also provide a decent amount of a variety of B vitamins. Rutabaga greens are similar to turnip greens and are a good source of vitamins K, A, C, and B complex, as well as the minerals calcium and manganese.
Buying & Storing
A rutabaga is traditionally a long term storage crop. Attached greens means that it was harvested recently (and locally) as the greens are typically removed for long-term storage and transport. Greens should be wrapped in a damp paper towel or placed in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Use the greens as soon as possible.
Rutabagas are pretty resilient, so a little damage to the root is just fine and can be cut off. Check for major soft spots on the root and cut any out before storing. Remove the greens and store rutabaga at room temperature for up to 1 week, or refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 1 month. For longer-term storage, rutabagas (with the greens removed) can be packed in moist sand and kept in a cool (but not freezing) location, like a root cellar.
Preparation – scrub rutabagas vigorously with a vegetable brush to remove any remaining dirt. Rutabagas sometimes have a tough outer skin, and can be peeled using a knife or a peeler, if preferred.
Raw – slice or grate rutabaga and add it to salads, use it in slaws, or shave it for sandwiches. Use in a winter slaw with celeriac, daikon radish, and apple.
Steam – cut into 1-inch cubes, place in a pot with a steamer baster over an inch of boiling water, cover, and steam for 30-35 minutes, or until thoroughly tender. Season with salt, pepper, butter, and herbs. To enjoy as a rutabaga mash, add cream and then mash, or mix with potatoes and serve as a mix.
Boil – cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes, drop into a saucepan of boiling water and cook, uncovered, for about 15-25 minutes, or until tender.
Roast – cut into 1-inch cubes or chunks, toss with melted butter or oil, season as desired, spread onto a baking sheet in a single layer, and roast at 425°F for 30-50 minutes. Check at 30 minutes and then every 5-10 minutes after that until they are golden brown and tender.
Fry – cut into thin slices, and carefully deep fry in a pan of very hot vegetable oil until golden brown. Do not crowd the pan while frying, and fry in batches if necessary. Drain on a paper towel, sprinkle with salt and pepper or the seasoning of choice, and serve. You can also cut rutabaga into fries and fry them as you would potatoes for “french fries.”
Puree – boil rutabaga and then place in a food processor or blender with heavy cream or chicken stock. Season as desired and puree until smooth. Rutabaga puree can be used in soups or frozen for later use.