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Tuesday, December 9, 2014




The rutabaga is a cruciferous root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip.  Also known as "Swede" or yellow turnip the roots are prepared for human food in a variety of ways, and the leaves can be eaten as a leaf vegetable.  The roots and tops are used as winter feed for livestock.   Raw or cooked the rutabaga has a flavor reminiscent of turnip but with a richer, slightly
more intense quality that hints of cabbage with a subtle sweetness and pleasant fragrance.   


Turnips can be traced back to Asia Minor 4000 years ago.  The first printed reference was in 1620 as growing in Sweden.  It is often considered to have originated in Scandinavia or Russia.   People living in Ireland, Scotland, and England have long carved turnips and used them as lanterns to ward off harmful spirits.  In modern times turnips are often carved to look sinister and as threatening as possible and put in the window or on the doorstep of a house at Halloween  to ward off evil spirits.


In Sweden and Norway rutabaga is cooked with potato and sometimes carrot and mashed with butter and either stock or sometimes milk or cream.  In Scotland potato and rutabaga are boiled and mashed separately to produce "tatties and neeps".  In England rutabaga is regularly eaten mashed as part of the traditional Sunday roast.  In the U.S. rutabaga is mostly eaten as paart of stews or casseroles, served mashed with carrots, or baked in a pasty.  Rutabaga can be eaten raw or cooked.  It should be peeled as many rutabagas are waxed.  Rutabagas can be baked, roasted, boiled, braised, steamed,  stir-fried, or microwaved. 


The rutabaga is cholesterol free and low in sodium.  It is a very good source of vitamin C and potassium and a good source of fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, calcium, mangnesium, and phosphorous.  It is also a source of manganese. 

Medicinal Uses:

This cruciferous vegetable is an excellent source of sulfur containing substances called glucosinolates.,  According to the Linus Pauling Institute glucosinolates may help eliminate carcinogens before they can damage DNA or alter certain cell signaling pathways.  

Selecting and Storing:

Choose rutabagas that are heavy for their size and firm without soft spots or cracks with smooth unblemished skin - preferably medium size.  Refrigerate rutabagas in a plastic bag for up to 3 weeks. 

So....... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

Simple but good:

Roasted Rutabagas:

1 large rutabaga peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Chopped parsley to taste

Toss peeled and cubed rutabaga in olive oil and salt and pepper on a baking sheet.  Roast at 425 degrees F. until golden brown and soft (about 40 minutes).  Remove from oven and toss with apple cider vinegar and chopped parsley.  

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