About Rutabagas

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Many Thanksgiving meals feature the classic vegetable known as the turnip, but an uncommon vegetable known as the rutabaga is much like the turnip. Rutabagas are a unique vegetable and can be used in a variety of recipes and dinner creations. The rutabaga is a great fall vegetable.

Identification

  • A rutabaga is a yellowish vegetable that is grown under the ground and known as a "root" vegetable much like a carrot or potato. The top of a rutabaga can be purple in color, but may also blend in with the vegetable itself. The vegetable has a round shape, sometimes with a pointed end.

Function

  • Rutabagas can be used in a variety of recipes or just cooked on their own. In order to be cooked on their own, they first must be washed and peeled. Then they are boiled and mashed with other ingredients to add flavor. Rutabagas are also popular roasted and served fresh with a salad.

Geography

  • Rutabagas are cooked all over the world in cold weather climates in locations like Ireland, England and areas of the United States. They originated in Finland and quickly spread throughout Europe and eventually to the United States. Rutabagas grow and ripen in the fall and are typically harvested before the ground freezes. In the United States crops can be found in states like Wisconsin, Texas and Ohio.

Considerations

  • Rutabaga is the common name for the vegetable in the United States, but elsewhere it is often referred to as a "Swede." The rutabaga is commonly mixed up with the turnip, so the vegetable has also been given the name "Swedish turnip." Fans of rutabagas annually attend the Rutabaga Festival in Cumberland, Wisconsin. This festival celebrates the vegetable and offers a wide variety of recipes including it.

Potential

  • Along with food uses, rutabaga has a couple of other uses. When European countries did not have access to pumpkin crops, rutabagas were hallowed and then carved to create jack o'lanterns for Halloween. When painted orange, these vegetables would look much like carved pumpkins and work as a great replacement.

    Rutabagas are also a great source of food for livestock, including cows and pigs. The top of the rutabaga would be chopped off and discarded, and easily fed to the cows much like other livestock feed. This helps save waste and makes livestock cheaper in the long run.

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  • Photo Credit http://www.umassvegetable.org/images/soils_crops_pest_mgt/crop/rutabaga2.jpg
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