If I was to ask you to tell the difference between a rutabaga and a turnip could you tell me the difference? How about pointing out a rutabaga in grocery stores? I'll admit that I used to have no idea what they were and given the lumpy and unappealing presence, I wasn't super inclined to grab them in stores. I had no idea how to use them, what the difference between them and turnips was, and what they even tasted like. For those out there who need the answer to these questions as well, we're here to be your rutabaga information hub.

What Is A Rutabaga?

two freshly harvested rutabagas

Rutabagas are root vegetables that can be translated to mean "Swedish turnip." Look at that. Already you don't need to feel so bad for not knowing the difference between the two. Even though the two share the same name (depending on where you live) and some similarities, there are noticeable differences between the two.

Rutabagas Versus Turnips: What's The Difference?

Rutabagas are actually a fair deal larger than your average turnip. They're usually harvested when they're larger so a telltale difference is the size. They may also be purple on top, but as they mature and are harvested they turn a yellowish-brown in color with some purple tinges.

Turnips also have a much smoother skin than a rutabaga does and they don't have any side roots growing out of them.

There are also some noticeable differences in taste. Rutabagas are a bit sweeter than turnips and are often used alongside more savory meals like soups, casseroles, or with meat. Rutabagas are essentially a cross between cabbage and turnips, so the taste falls somewhere between the two.

Health Benefits Of Rutabagas

close up shot of rutabaga on wooden table

Given that they're a vegetable, it was pretty easy to guess that they weren't going to be bad for you. There are some serious benefits to these veggies, though. They belong to the Brassica family of veggies and these particular kinds are known for their nutrients. They're loaded with vitamins C and E, calcium, iron, zinc, and help the immune system. They're also low in calories, have no fat, and barely any sodium.

Given all the antioxidants in rutabaga and its family, one of the best health benefits it can offer is decreasing the risk of some cancers. Studies have shown that a fancy sulfur compound called glucosinolates are present in rutabaga and its family members and they can help reduce the size of cancerous tumors.

It's important in any case to get your daily dose of fruits and vegetables. With all you know about these health benefits there's really no reason to skimp on them. Other popular Brassica vegetables are kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips.

How To Use Rutabagas In Meals

Okay, so you know you should be getting it into your diet, but how do you even do that? As we mentioned before, rutabagas are actually used in a wide variety of meals that are easy to make and healthy for you.

Rutabaga Preparation

close up of ruatabags

The first thing you need to know is how to peel them. It's recommended that you cut the top and bottom off your vegetable to make it easier to peel. The skin is usually tender enough for your ordinary vegetable peeler to handle.

One important to thing to note is the wax you may find on them. If you're picking up your rutabagas from the store you might see a waxy film on them and the reason it's there is the along the same reason for wax on apples. Wax is applied to apples to keep their aesthetic appeal and preserve their shelf life; wax is on rutabagas to prevent them from drying out and to preserve their shelf life as well. Peeling them will get rid of it, no problem. If you're having some trouble with the peeler, you can use a paring knife to remove the wax.

Mashed Rutabaga

For a healthy side dish, you can mash your rutabagas and carrots together. Not only does the carrot help keep things even healthier, but it adds a nice orange color to help things look a little less blah. This recipe only takes half an hour to make and produces a good amount of food so you can serve multiple guests or keep some for leftovers. You can also add rutabaga into your typical mashed potato dish.

Rutabaga Chipotle Soup

rutabaga soup with goose

Enjoy a yummy arrangement of your favorite foods and still feel full afterward. This simple soup is also brought up a notch with the addition of chipotle giving things a kick. Depending on your personal tastes, you can also add whichever flavoring you like to make these fries the best for you.

Rutabaga Fries

Another thing you can do with rutabaga is shredding it into strips and make some french fries. This recipe is low in fat and calories and brings some good flavor with the inclusion of rosemary, salt, and pepper. They also don't take very long to make, acting as a wonderful side dish to your meals.

Rutabaga is a vegetable that should make more appearances in your diet. They have a lot of vitamins, calcium, iron, and antioxidants that keep you healthy and your immune system in check; they can be used in a ton of different recipes and aren't restricting at all in the kitchen. With everything the rutabaga has to offer, it's really in your best interest to give these little guys a chance.

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