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Rutabagas are different from Turnips and Swedes. You can use them all interchangeably, though, which is a mercy, as no one can really tell the difference, especially not your local green grocer!

Most Rutabagas have yellow flesh (though some Turnips and Swedes do, too.) There are other perhaps better ways to tell the difference. First, Rutabaga leaves are smooth, while Turnip leaves are rough. And secondly, Turnip has 10 chromosomes, Swede has 18 to 19, and Rutabaga has 38. Given, however, that none of them is hardly ever sold with its leaves on, and given that you don't always take an electron microscope with you while shopping, both these distinctions are completely useless to us.

Americans think Rutabaga is Swede, but it is not. (Not that it matters.)

Choose Rutabagas that are firm and heavy for their weight. Size is no indication of flavour or quality. Because Rutabagas have such a thin skin, they are often sold waxed to help keep the moisture in during shipping and handling.


Turnip; Swede

Storage Hints

Refrigerate unwashed in plastic bag for two to four weeks, or at room temperature for a week.

History Notes

The best guess so far is that Rutabaga is a cross between cabbage and turnip, which probably occurred in Europe sometime in the Middle Ages.

Literature & Lore

Comes from the Swedish, "rotabagge".

See also:

Root Vegetables

Amicho; Añú; Arracacha; Beet; Crosne; Garlic; Horseradish; Imo; Jerusalem Artichokes; Jicama; Kohlrabi; Konjac Root; Malanga; Neeps; Oca; Onions; Parsnips; Potatoes; Prairie Turnip; Root Vegetables; Rutabaga; Salsify; Scorzonera; Sea Holly; Silverweed Cinquefoil; Swede; Taro; Turnips; Water Chestnuts; Yamagoboo

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Oulton, Randal. "Rutabaga." CooksInfo.com. Published 23 January 2003; revised 26 August 2005. Web. Accessed 04/21/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/rutabaga>.

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