|Species Brassica napus||Cultivar group Napobrassica Group|
|Similar Turnip, Parsnip, Kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichoke, Celeriac|
How to tell the difference between turnip and rutabaga
The rutabaga (from an old Swedish dialectal word), swede (from Swedish turnip), or neep (Brassica napobrassica, or Brassica napus var. napobrassica, or Brassica napus subsp. rapifera) is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip; confusingly, the rutabaga can also be called a turnip. The roots are prepared for human consumption in a variety of ways, and the leaves can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. The roots and tops are also used as winter feed for livestock, when they may be fed directly, or by allowing the animals to forage the plants in the field.
- How to tell the difference between turnip and rutabaga
- Botanical history
- Human consumption
Rutabaga has many national and regional names. Rutabaga is the common North American term for the plant. This comes from the old Swedish dialectal word rotabagge, from rot (root) + bagge (short, stumpy object; probably related to bag). In the U.S., the plant is also known as Swedish turnip or yellow turnip. The term swede is used instead of rutabaga in many Commonwealth Nations, including much of England, Australia, and New Zealand. The name turnip is also used in parts of Northern and Midland England, the Westcountry (particularly Cornwall), Ireland, Manitoba, Ontario and Atlantic Canada. In Wales, according to region it is variously known as maip, rwden, erfin, swedsen or swejen in Welsh and as swede or turnip in English. In Scotland, it is known as turnip, and in Scots as tumshie or neep (from Old English næp, Latin napus). Some areas of south east Scotland, such as Berwickshire and Roxburghshire, still use the term baigie, possibly a derivative of the original Swedish rutabaga. The term turnip is also used for the white turnip (Brassica rapa ssp rapa). Some will also refer to both swede and (white) turnip as just turnip (this word is also derived from næp). In North-East England, turnips and swedes are colloquially called snadgers, snaggers (archaic) or narkies.
Its common name in Sweden is kålrot (literally "cabbage/kale root"). Similarly, in Denmark it is known as kålroe and kålrabi, while in Norway it is known as kålrabi or kålrot. In Denmark and Norway, kålrabi is sometimes confused with Swedish kålrabbi (kohlrabi). The Finnish term is lanttu. Rutabaga is known as Steckrübe in German.
The first known printed reference to the rutabaga comes from the Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin in 1620, where he notes that it was growing wild in Sweden. It is often considered to have originated in Scandinavia or Russia. It is said to have been widely introduced to Britain around 1800, but it was recorded as being present in the royal gardens in England as early as 1669 and was described in France in 1700. It was asserted by Sir John Sinclair in his Husbandry of Scotland to have been introduced to Scotland around 1781–1782. An article on the topic in The Gardeners' Chronicle suggests that the rutabaga was then introduced more widely to England in 1790. Introduction to North America came in the early 19th century with reports of rutabaga crops in Illinois as early as 1817.
Rutabaga has a complex taxonomic history. The earliest account comes from the Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin, who wrote about it in his 1620 Prodromus. Brassica napobrassica was first validly published by Carl Linnaeus in his 1753 work Species Plantarum as a variety of B. oleracea: B. oleracea var. napobrassica. It has since been moved to other taxa as a variety, subspecies, or elevated to species rank. In 1768, a Scottish botanist elevated Linnaeus' variety to species rank as Brassica napobrassica in The Gardeners Dictionary, which is the currently accepted name.
Rutabaga has a chromosome number of 2n = 38. It originated from a cross between turnip (Brassica rapa) and Brassica oleracea. The resulting cross then doubled its chromosomes, becoming an allopolyploid. This relationship was first published by Woo Jang-choon in 1935 and is known as the Triangle of U.
Finns cook rutabaga in a variety of ways: roasted, baked, boiled, as a flavor enhancer in soups, uncooked and thinly julienned as a side dish or in a salad, and as the major ingredient in the popular Christmas dish lanttulaatikko (swede casserole). Finns use rutabaga in most dishes that call for any root vegetable.
In Sweden and Norway, rutabaga is cooked with potato and sometimes carrot, and mashed with butter and either stock or, occasionally, milk or cream, to create a puree called rotmos (Swedish, literally: root mash) or kålrabistappe (Norwegian). Onion is occasionally added. In Norway, kålrabistappe is an obligatory accompaniment to many festive dishes, including smalahove, pinnekjøtt, raspeball and salted herring. In Sweden, rotmos is often eaten together with cured and boiled ham hock, accompanied by mustard. This classic Swedish dish is called fläsklägg med rotmos. In Wales, a similar mash produced using just potato and rutabaga is known as ponsh maip in the north east of the country, as mwtrin on the Llyn peninsula and as stwnsh rwden in other parts.
In The Netherlands, rutabaga is traditionally served boiled, mashed and a smoked worst (sausage) served alongside. The dish is usually called Stamppot, but turnip can also be used in the Hutspot dish as well.
In Scotland, potato and rutabaga are boiled and mashed separately to produce "tatties and neeps" ("tatties" being the Scots word for potatoes), traditionally served with the Scottish national dish of haggis as the main course of a Burns supper. Neeps may also be mashed with potatoes to make clapshot. Regional variations include the addition of onion to clapshot in Orkney. Neeps are also extensively used in soups and stews.
In England, swede is boiled together with carrots and served either mashed or pureed with butter and ground pepper. The flavored cooking water is often retained for soup, or as an addition to gravy. Swede (Rutabaga) is an essential vegetable component of the traditional Welsh lamb broth called cawl and Irish Stew as eaten in England. Swede (Rutabaga) is also a component of the popular condiment Branston Pickle. The swede is also one of the four traditional ingredients of the pasty originating in Cornwall.
In Canada they are considered winter vegetables, as along with similar vegetables they are able to be kept in a cold area or cellar for several months. They are primarily used as a side dish. They are also used as filler in foods such as mincemeat and Christmas cake.
In the US, rutabaga is mostly eaten as part of stews or casseroles, served mashed with carrots, or baked in a pasty. They are frequently found in the New England boiled dinner.
In Australia, rutabaga is used in casseroles, stews and soups as a flavor enhancer.
Despite its popularity elsewhere, the rutabaga is considered a food of last resort in both Germany and France due to its association with food shortages in World War I and World War II. Boiled stew with rutabaga and water as the only ingredients (Steckrübeneintopf) was a typical food in Germany during the famines and food shortages of World War I ("Steckrübenwinter" 1916/17) and between 1945 and 1949. As a result, many older Germans had unhappy memories of this food.
Rutabaga and other cyanoglucoside-containing foods (including cassava, maize (corn), bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes, and lima beans) release cyanide, which is subsequently detoxified into thiocyanate. Thiocyanate inhibits thyroid iodide transport and, at high doses, competes with iodide in the organification process within thyroid tissue. Goitres may develop when there is a dietary imbalance of thiocyanate-containing food in excess of iodine consumption, and it is possible for these compounds to contribute to hypothyroidism. Yet, there have been no reports of ill effects in humans from the consumption of glucosinolates from normal amounts of Brassica vegetables. Glucosinolate content in Brassica vegetables is around one percent of dry matter. These compounds also cause the bitter taste of rutabaga.
As with watercress, mustard greens, turnip, broccoli and horseradish, human perception of bitterness in rutabaga is governed by a gene affecting the TAS2R bitter receptor, which detects the glucosinolates in rutabaga. Sensitive individuals with the genotype PAV/PAV (supertasters) find rutabaga twice as bitter as insensitive subjects (AVI/AVI). For the mixed type (PAV/AVI), the difference is not significant for rutabaga. As a result, sensitive individuals may find some rutabagas too bitter to eat.
Other chemical compounds that contribute to flavor and odor include glucocheirolin, glucobrassicanapin, glucoberteroin, gluconapoleiferin, and glucoerysolin. Several phytoalexins that aid in defense against plant pathogens have also been isolated from rutabaga, including three novel phytoalexins that were reported in 2004.
Rutabaga contains significant amounts of vitamin C: 100 g contains 25 mg, which is 42% of the daily recommended dose.
The roots and tops of "swedes" came into use as a forage crop in the early nineteenth century, used as winter feed for livestock. They may be fed directly (chopped or from a hopper), or animals may be allowed to forage the plants directly in the field.
People living in the British Isles have long carved turnips and often used them as lanterns to ward off harmful spirits. In the Middle Ages, rowdy bands of children roamed the streets in hideous masks carrying carved turnips known in Scotland as "tumshie heads". In modern times, turnips are often carved to look as sinister and threatening as possible, and are put in the window or on the doorstep of a house at Halloween to ward off evil spirits. Since pumpkins became readily available in Europe in the 1980s, they have taken over this role for the most part.
The International Rutabaga Curling Championship takes place annually at the Ithaca Farmers' Market on the last day of the market season.
Askov, Minnesota is the former "Rutabaga Capital of the World" and was a hub of rutabaga cultivation until A. Henriksen's rutabaga warehouse operation burned in the 1970s. The city of Askov is currently home of the annual Askov Fair and Rutabaga Festival, held during the fourth weekend of August.