Rutabaga or Turnip? You Decide

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

turnip or rutabaga 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

cubed and ready tocookcooked

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!



2 comments on “Rutabaga or Turnip? You Decide

  1. Karen says:

    I had to laugh when I read this post. For one of my first dinners that I was invited to when I first moved to New England and was asked if I could bring a vegetable…I said I would bring turnips when I found out what the main course was. I brought a dish made with the small purple topped turnips that are common in the south where I grew up. My hosts were expecting rutabaga…which are very different. Live and learn. 🙂

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