Many people are confused as to what the difference is between a turnip and a rutabaga, and it is no wonder because they both have many similarities. In fact, a rutabaga is actually a CROSS between a turnip and a cabbage! Who’d've thought! Both rutabagas and turnips are root vegetables and both are grown during the cooler seasons of spring and fall.
Turnips have been around practically forever. They grow wild in many parts of the world and were actually grown and cultivated during ancient times – all the way back to the Paleolithic era. Talk about a prehistoric vegetable! Rutabagas have been around for quite awhile too, but they came later, when turnips eventually crossed with cabbages.
Rutabagas and turnips have a very similar texture and flavor, however rutabagas tend to have a rougher texture and a tougher skin. Rutabagas are generally bigger and firmer than turnips and are also sweeter in flavor. Turnips are usually white, and rutabagas often have more of a yellow tint. Different varieties vary, but both rutabagas and turnips often have a purple-colored crown. Despite their differences, they are similar enough to be interchangeable in most recipes. When cooked, the flesh of a turnip turns from white to almost translucent, while a rutabaga’s flesh turns a yellow-orange.
Turnips are also grown for their greens. Turnip greens are thin and slightly hairy. Rutabaga greens can be eaten too, but are more rare in the United States. Their greens look more like cabbage leaves and are thicker with a smooth waxy quality.
So now that you know the difference, why not try one or both? Both rutabagas and turnips are full nutrients, especially vitamin C and antioxidants. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, roasted, or sauted! Let us know how you end up eating them!