What Is a Rutabaga?

Quck answer

A rutabaga is a root vegetable that is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. It has a yellowish-orange flesh and a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Rutabagas are commonly used in cooking and can be boiled, roasted, mashed, or added to soups and stews. They are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. Rutabagas are also low in calories and fat, making them a healthy addition to a balanced diet. They are often mistaken for turnips, but have a slightly different taste and texture. Overall, rutabagas are a versatile and nutritious vegetable.

Do you have a fondness for vegetables? Most children enjoy consuming potatoes. Corn is another frequently favored choice. However, what about broccoli, squash, and cucumbers? There is an astonishing assortment of vegetables available that are eagerly awaiting to become part of your lunch or dinner!

For instance, have you ever tasted a turnip? What about wild cabbage? Can you believe that there exists a vegetable that scientists speculate originated from a combination of the turnip and wild cabbage? It’s true! This extraordinary vegetable is known as the rutabaga.

Feel free to say its name multiple times. We know you want to. Rutabaga! Rutabaga! Rutabaga! Wasn’t that enjoyable?

Historians theorize that rutabagas were cultivated in Bohemia during the 17th century. In addition to being a human food source, rutabagas were also a popular crop grown to feed livestock. Nowadays, rutabagas thrive in cooler climates, such as the northern regions of the United States, Canada, and Europe.

As a matter of fact, rutabagas gained significant popularity in the northern Scandinavian countries, particularly Sweden. Throughout Europe, rutabagas are often referred to as “swedes” even in present times.

Rutabagas are root vegetables that can have a purple, white, or yellow exterior, with yellow-orange flesh. Many individuals mistake them for yellow turnips! Their leaves are thick and possess a blue hue, similar to cabbage. The flowers of the rutabaga plant are small and light yellow in color.

Rutabagas have a mild flavor that evokes the freshness of cabbage and turnips. They are also a rich source of beneficial beta carotene. Despite these advantages, rutabagas are still relatively uncommon in American kitchens.

Rutabagas are simple to prepare and can be used in a multitude of delightful recipes. They are typically planted in May or June and harvested in late summer or early fall. For the most delicious rutabagas, seek them out at a local farmer’s market in the early autumn.

If you’re curious about how rutabagas are usually consumed, there are actually numerous great ways to enjoy this humble vegetable. They can be eaten raw as a snack or chopped up and added to salads. They can also be cooked in various ways, including roasting, boiling, steaming, stir frying, mashing, and stewing!

Give It a Try

Are you ready to experience the taste of a rutabaga? Ask a friend or family member to join you in exploring the following activities:

  • Enlist the help of an adult friend or family member and embark on a visit to the nearest grocery store or farmer’s market. What are you searching for? Rutabagas, of course! Hopefully, you can find some that are in season. If not, look for similar vegetables, such as wild cabbage and turnips.
  • If you manage to obtain some rutabagas, try out one or more of the recipes listed below. Make sure you review the ingredient list, as there may be a few other items you need to acquire from the store. + Rutabaga Rumba + Rutabaga Oven Fries + Mashed Rutabagas
  • Scientists speculate that rutabagas originated from a combination of turnips and wild cabbage. Consider other vegetables that you could combine. What would be the outcome? Can you come up with amusing names for other potential vegetable combinations? Be as imaginative as possible and share your ideas with your friends!

Sources of Wonder

  • http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch4.html (accessed 20 Dec. 2018)
  • http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/rutabaga.html (accessed 20 Dec. 2018)


1. What is a rutabaga?

A rutabaga is a root vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, which also includes vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and kale. It is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, resulting in a unique flavor and texture. Rutabagas are typically round or oval-shaped with a yellowish or purplish skin and a pale yellow or orange flesh. They have a slightly sweet and earthy taste.

2. How do you cook rutabagas?

Rutabagas can be cooked in various ways. They can be roasted, steamed, boiled, mashed, or used in stews and soups. To cook rutabagas, start by peeling and cutting them into cubes or slices. You can then boil or steam them until they are tender. Alternatively, you can roast them in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper for a caramelized flavor. Mashed rutabagas are a popular side dish, similar to mashed potatoes.

3. Are rutabagas nutritious?

Yes, rutabagas are highly nutritious. They are low in calories and fat but rich in essential nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Rutabagas also contain antioxidants that help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation. They are a good source of energy due to their carbohydrate content. Including rutabagas in your diet can contribute to a healthy immune system, improved digestion, and overall well-being.

4. Can rutabagas be eaten raw?

While rutabagas are typically cooked before consuming, they can also be eaten raw. However, raw rutabagas have a strong and slightly bitter taste, which may not be appealing to everyone. If you choose to eat rutabagas raw, it is best to shred or grate them and add them to salads or coleslaw. Raw rutabagas are crunchy and have a similar texture to radishes. Cooking rutabagas can help mellow their flavor and make them more enjoyable to eat.

5. How do you select and store rutabagas?

When selecting rutabagas, choose ones that are firm, heavy for their size, and free of blemishes or soft spots. Avoid rutabagas with shriveled or wilted tops. Store rutabagas in a cool, dark, and dry place, such as a cellar or refrigerator. They can last for several weeks when stored properly. Before storing, remove the leafy tops, as they can draw moisture from the root and cause it to spoil. Rutabagas should be stored separately from fruits, as they release ethylene gas, which can accelerate the ripening process.

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