Whereas both turnip and rutabaga belong to the cabbage family, Brassicaceae (Cruciferae), they belong to different species. Turnip belongs to the species Brassica rapa L. (together with Chinese Cabbage and Bok Choy) and rutabaga belongs to the species Brassica napus var. napobrassica (L.) Rchb.
Pictorial View of Rutabaga (Swede, Neeps, Yellow Turnip)
Pictorial View of Turnip
Turnip is usually just called turnip but rutabaga may also be called: Swedish Turnip, Swede, Neeps, or yellow turnip, and this can sometimes be confusing. In Canada the local stores market rutabaga as rutabaga so no confusion.
Point to note: in Scotland, North East England, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Cornwall the turnip is usually called “swede‘ so this can cause some confusion.
In general store-bought turnips are usually smaller in size (less than 5-inch diameter). Rutabagas are usually bigger in size (5-6-inch) in diameter.
Shape and colour
Rutabagas are large and round, often with a rather lumpy and irregular shape and a pale yellow to brownish (tan) to purple skin.
They have ridged scars forming concentric rings around their tops and a dark purple band at the crown.
Turnips are smaller, round and somewhat flattened. The most common commercial variety of turnip is white with a purple band at the top (crown), where it is exposed to light during growth. The band at the top may also be green or reddish pink in colour. Turnips on the other hand, lack the concentric rings found at the crown of the rutabaga. Completely yellow, red, or white turnips also exist (not common in-store).
Flesh and skin
Most commercial turnips have a white flesh which is more moist compared to rutabaga. Yellow fleshed turnips are uncommon. The turnip skin is never waxed. If scrubbed well young fresh turnips can be cooked skin-on.
Rutabagas on the other hand have pale yellow flesh which tends to be firm and less moist, compared to turnips. The flesh of rutabaga turns deep yellow or orange when cooked and since it’s less moist it can be cooked and mashed without a problem. I have never tried to mash turnips (I should do this)
The rutabaga skin is usually waxed to help retain moisture and give it a longer shelf life. Store-bought rutabagas must be peeled to remove this wax before cooking.
Rutabagas have a stronger, somewhat peppery and sweeter flavour and turnips have are mild to slightly bitter in flavour.
Turnips have no beta carotene. Rutabagas have beta carotene and more vitamin C than turnips.
Both turnips and rutabagas can be boiled, baked or microwaved, but larger rutabagas are best just boiled until tender and mashed.
They can both be added to soups, stews or casseroles. They can be mixed with potatoes and mashed. Personally, I prefer mashed rutabaga to mashed turnip.
Due to the less moist flesh and the waxing, rutabagas somewhat store better and longer than turnips.
myfavouritepastime.com Last Updated: May 16 2018