The rutabaga, swede or (yellow) turnip (Brassica napobrassica, or Brassica napus var. napobrassica) is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the white turnip—see the turnip disambiguation page. Its leaves may also be eaten as a leaf vegetable.
These days, rutabagas are mostly eaten as part of stews or casseroles, are served mashed with carrots, or are baked in a pasty. The Swedish people cook rutabagas with potatoes and mash them with butter and milk to create a white vegetable puree called rotmos. In Canada rutabagas are used as filler in foods such as mincemeat and Christmas cake, or as a side dish with Sunday dinner in Atlantic Canada. In Ireland, locally-grown rutabagas are sold as "swedes".
Rutabaga is a biennial, which can overwinter as a storage root. The 'root' consists of the hypocotyl - the plant part that lies between the true root and the first seedling leaves (cotyledons) - and the base of the leafy stem. A rutabaga root can be distinguished from a turnip by the presence of a swollen "neck" bearing a number of ridges, the leaf-base scars. The storage root may be purple, white or yellow, with yellowish flesh. Rutabaga leaves are bluish, thick like cabbage, and smooth. They emerge from the crown in a broad, low-spreading growth habit that inhibits growth of weeds. Rutabaga flowers are small and have light-yellow petals. They differ from turnip flowers in that they are not raised above the unopened buds on the raceme. American Purple Top is the only variety that we carry.