I thought I knew the difference. I went to the store in search of turnips. I found them and thought “this might be big for a turnip” but the store sign in the produce section said “turnips.” I did think turnips were smaller and whiter and had purple tops. But then again this looked a lot like that too – just bigger.
But the scanner at checkout called it Rutabaga. Even the professionals don’t know!
Oh well… both are delicious.
But for the record, and after doing a little research, I now know I purchased a Rutabaga.
See “Exhibit A” below – unpeeled and peeled
A Short History
Turnips are smaller, white and have purple tops and have been around “cultivar-ly” speaking for much longer. As in… the Romans were eating it.
Rutabagas are apparently a cross between cabbage and turnip and were really discovered in the early 1600′s. They are also much larger and have a yellow flesh which turns a full shade of orange with cooking.
Generally you would prepare them about the same. Peel them and steam or roast. Salt and pepper to taste with a little butter is really all you need. Since mine was huge and I wanted to cook it with ease. I peeled and cubed mine into large chunks, which I tossed with salt and pepper and a couple of tablespoons of butter and maybe a 1/4 cup of water and put in a covered dish to ‘bake-steam’ in the oven alongside my main event.
See “Exhibit B” below – uncooked and cooked
To Mash or Not To Mash?
Now I thought they were delicious as is, but my traditional Irish-American husband who was reliving the turnips of his youth needed them mashed. Also very good. And if you bought a huge one like I did, you can freeze the extra cooked amount and heat up another time or use it for an interesting alternative to the mashed potato topping on Cottage or Shepard’s Pie!