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What Do Rutabagas Taste Like? Here’s What To Know

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A rutabaga is more than just a funny-sounding word: it is a vegetable! But what does this strange-looking vegetable taste like?

Rutabagas tend to confuse everyone who isn’t a Swede, so let’s try and clear things up. These beauties are a type of turnip, or at least very similar to a turnip and used in the same way.

But what does rutabaga taste like ? Does it taste like turnip ? It turns out they’re similar, yes, but also a little different. So to sate your hunger for Swedish turnip knowledge, we’re going to take a closer look at what rutabagas taste like. And what you can do with them, of course.

rutabaga taste

What does rutabaga taste like?

Rutabagas taste a lot like a turnip, just a little bit milder. Rutabagas can be described as: peppery, earthy, slightly bitter, buttery and sweet. They’re a root vegetable that is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage.

While the outside of the round vegetable tends to be purple, the inside of the vegetable is more of a white or yellow color, and that is the part that you are actually tasting and cooking when you decide to eat one.

People who do not like rutabagas tend to focus on the fact that it tastes bitter, but the truth is, that tends to be only when eaten raw. In fact, many people enjoy the bitter crunch of rutabaga raw on top of their salads, like they would turnips.

However, if you decide that it is far too bitter for you after your first bite into a raw rutabaga, do not give up on the food entirely. When you cook rutabaga, most of the bitterness cooks right out of it, and you are left with a delicious buttery, sweet, and savory flavor.

Which tastes better: turnip or rutabaga?

Alright, so as we have already established, rutabagas and turnips are really similar. Should you get the more commonly known turnip and just forgo the rutabaga? In truth, that is really a lot up to you as you can do similar things with both vegetables.


Turnips tend to have the more intense flavor between the two. If that is something that appeals to you because you like spicier, stronger flavors, just go ahead and get turnips. But, if you do not want something quite so potent, the rutabaga remains a great option.

Read also: Rutabaga VS Jicama

Rutabaga texture

To start, when you buy rutabagas at the grocery store, you want to make sure you get a good one, or the taste simply will not be up to par. You want to make sure that the skin is hard, thick, and smooth, that the roots are firm and heavy (for their size), and finally, the leaves feel smooth and waxy.

The last thing to consider when you are buying a rutabaga does not really have to do with texture. Still, smaller rutabagas will taste sweeter than larger ones.

As far as the texture of the rutabaga, they are a crisp and crunchy vegetable. It tends to even hold those qualities when cooked, which can make it a perfect texture to add to your salad or tray of roasted vegetables for some contrast.

Of course, when you take your rutabaga and puree or mash it, it will not stay crisp and crunchy. Instead, it takes on a creamy, buttery consistency that will just melt in your mouth when you taste it.

How do you eat rutabaga?

One of the best things about rutabagas is how completely versatile they are. You can pretty much use them however you want, similar to a potato.

You can boil them, mash them, cook them into a soup or stew, roast them with a tray of other vegetables, put them on top of your salad, sautee them, or eat them with a yummy dip.

rutabaga stew

Sometimes people will even cut them up long ways and bake or fry the pieces to make rutabaga fries. It’s a healthier alternative to the classic potato.

One of the more popular ways to eat rutabagas, especially amongst those who are not a fan of the more bitter flavor, is to mash them up. Before you actually mash the vegetable, you have to boil it to get it soft. Add around a tablespoon of a sweetener (honey, sugar, etc.) to the water. Your mashed rutabaga will be perfectly sweet.

Now, as stated previously, you can eat rutabaga raw; if you do so, you need to make sure you peel the skin off first rather than just taking a bite right out of it.

Besides the fact that it is a root vegetable so it came right from the fertilized dirt, the skin is thick and waxy and simply will not taste good to anyone. But after you peel it, feel free to eat it raw whether you are taking a great big bite out of it, you are just grating a little bit on top of a dish as a garnish, or anything in between.

Read Also:Rutabaga VS Beets

How do you keep rutabagas fresh?

If you want rutabagas to taste good, you have to keep them fresh because, like most things, they simply do not taste right when they start to go bad. As far as the shelf life of vegetables, you can keep rutabagas for a fairly long time, especially if you buy them in season, which is between October and March.

If you want to make them last as long as possible, store them unwashed in the fridge, but you can also keep them on the counter (at room temperature) for up to seven days. Once they start to grow green shoots, it is too late, and the taste will not be as good.

For a little extra tip, if you are really packing them away for the long haul, go ahead and freeze them, and they will keep their taste for up to six months. You can even cook them before you freeze them, and they will taste delicious when you thaw them. Doing so can make mealtime really quick and easy.

Want mashed rutabaga? Just pull it out of the freezer, thaw it, heat it up on the stove or in the microwave, and enjoy that sweet, creamy taste.

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