Rutabagas are excellent in soups in stews but can also be delicious when braised, roasted or in a skillet hash.
Like many other root vegetables, choose rutabagas that are heavy for their size. Smaller roots have a stronger flavor and less fibrous texture. Avoid roots with deep cracks or soft spots.
Stored unwashed in a plastic bag, rutabagas will keep up to a month in a root cellar or refrigerator.
Most commercially available rutabagas are a single variety. Home gardeners can grow American Purple Top or Laurentian rutabagas.
Rutabagas can sometimes be confused for turnips, but they tend to be much larger with a golden hue below the deep purple top. They are, however, are a cross between turnips and cabbage. Both the leaves and root of the rutabaga are edible, but the roots are the most commonly eaten. Rarely will you find rutabagas with green tops in the market. When preparing rutabagas, be sure to remove the skins with a knife or vegetable peeler. They have a sweeter flavor that many of the other vegetables in the Brassica family.
Rutabagas are named for the Swedish word for “root bag.” Originally grown for animal feed, these vegetables have also been carved instead of pumpkins for Halloween in Ireland and the UK.