Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Today's Lesson - For My Buddy, Jake
Rutabagas. What? You aren’t sitting there, dying of curiosity about these veggies? Well, perhaps you should be. After all, you never know when such tidbits of knowledge might come in handy.
Rutabagas are commonly confused with turnips. It doesn’t help that they are called that in some parts of the world but I assure you, they are related but not at all the same thing. Turnips have been around forever and even grow wild in some cooler places in the world. You may want to study their leaves so you can identify them should the possibility of you being stranded in the wilderness exist. Rutabagas are a cross between a cabbage and a turnip that appeared around 1620. No, don’t ask me how that’s possible, since the two aren’t similar. It worked and I’m certain you can find all the gory details if you’re truly interested.
Turnips, when mature have edible foliage, bright purple tops, white bottoms and are two to three inches in diameter. They take roughly eight weeks to grow. Rutabagas also have edible foliage and purple tops, though the purple is darker. The bottoms however, are yellower and the bulb is larger, three to five inches.
Rutabagas are all-purpose vegetables. They can be eaten raw, on salads or sandwiches, roasted, fried, bakes, broiled or boiled. They can be mashed alone with salt, pepper and butter, or mixed in with mashed potatoes or even with carrots for added color.
Growing them is easy. Sow the seeds after other veggies are harvested, thin the plants to four inches apart and ignore them. Greens should be harvested when they’re about six inches tall, best when boiled with bacon bits and topped with butter. Rutabagas can be left in the ground long into winter as long as the patch is covered with a layer of protective hay during the coldest times.
So there you have it. Not something you necessarily wanted to know but not a bad bit of information to have.