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Is it a Turnip or Rutabaga? Rising some particular varieties – Broadfork Farm

A purple-top rutabaga subsequent to a green-top rutabaga

It’s very seemingly that you’ve got eaten rutabaga with out calling it by that title. It’s because a number of locations on this planet name each Rutabaga and Turnips by the identical title – Turnip – and Atlantic Canada is considered one of them (together with components of the UK and New England). Nevertheless, in seed catalogues, turnips and rutabaga are listed as 2 totally different (although associated) greens, so it’s a good suggestion for gardeners to know the distinction.

Rutabaga has an attention-grabbing origin story.

It’s a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. The intriguing factor about this cross is that turnips are of the species Brassica rapa and cabbage are a Brassica oleracea – which suggests they aren’t carefully associated sufficient to cross-breed. However in some way they did and cabbage’s 18 chromosomes and turnip’s 20 chromosomes crossed to create rutabaga with its 38 chromosomes. Rutabaga belongs to the species Brassica napus (together with Siberian kale and many sorts of Canola). Scientists’ finest guess presently is that the crossing between these 2 unrelated Brassicas occurred someday within the Center Ages in Scandinavia, the place the cool local weather fits them.

In addition to “turnip,” rutabagas are also called Swedes, Swedish turnip, or Yellow turnip. The title Rutabaga comes from a Swedish phrase rotabagge, that means “root bag.”

Just about the entire rutabaga varieties obtainable are open-pollinated, which is sort of uncommon for a Brassica crop. Although I’ve heard there are new hybrid varieties coming from Europe, I haven’t seen them obtainable on the market but.

Variations between Rutabaga and Turnip

Turnips have a shorter rising season. They’re not as cold-hardy or as long-storing as rutabagas. Rutabaga have just a little “neck” between the foundation and the leaves whereas turnips leaves come out straight from the spherical high of the foundation.

Hakurei turnips

There are literally many various kinds of turnips – the standard ones eaten on this a part of the world are these giant, spherical purple-topped white ones (that look fairly just like rutabaga). Nevertheless, in lots of components of the world (together with on our farm), different forms of turnip with totally different shapes and colors are frequent. Our favourites are the small spherical white ones which might be very tender and generally known as “salad turnips” or by selection names “Hakurei” or “Tokyo” and lengthy carrot-shaped ones known as Hinona Kabu (we frequently save seeds of those ones as a result of the seed isn’t all the time obtainable). We develop turnips all season lengthy, planting them each few weeks, for a daily harvest.

Hinona Kabu turnips

Rutabagas are planted simply as soon as per season – began in early summer season and harvested in fall after frost improves their flavour. The totally different types of rutabaga are a lot much less variable in form and color than the assorted turnips. The truth is, most seed catalogues checklist only one or 2 varieties. There are some variations although. There are purple topped ones and greenish-white topped ones. Some are extra yellow on the inside whereas others are creamier-white.

Cooking Rutabaga

Rutabagas had been maybe my least-loved vegetable rising up, which didn’t change till I tasted some from a farm that I apprenticed at in NY State. This organically-grown, yellow-fleshed rutabaga was ready as a easy mash and I liked it. That is nonetheless considered one of my favorite methods to eat rutabaga.

It’s additionally nice roasted, pureed with potatoes and carrots, added to soups, stews and casseroles. It may be grated and eaten uncooked in a salad, pickled, or lacto-fermented. The greens are edible and fairly hardy within the backyard, surviving many frosts.


We preserve rutabaga refrigerated over the winter and eat them till early spring. This long-storing high quality is important for seed-savers who will re-plant the saved roots within the spring to let this biennial plant develop a flower stalk after which produce seeds.

Laurentian rutabaga

Our Selection Trial

In contrast to true turnips, rutabagas aren’t one thing we develop on our farm yearly. Since we solely market till November, our season to promote these fall veggies is proscribed. Nevertheless, earlier this 12 months, after we had been requested if we’d be curious about participating in a nationwide trial of rutabaga varieties, we had been excited! I believe rutabaga is a superb crop for meals safety in our area and it’s invaluable to know which selection we like finest.

The trial was organized by the Canadian Natural Vegetable Enchancment (CANOVI) Community.

CANOVI is a collaboration that features the Bauta Household Initiative on Canadian Seed Safety at SeedChange via whom our farm has taken half in numerous seed initiatives over time (seed rising workshops, selection trials, grow-outs of seed for the Atlantic Seed Financial institution saved at Dalhousie College in Truro, and so forth).

We had been despatched 6 totally different types of rutabaga from totally different seed corporations and pointers for planting them as a way to see good trial outcomes. For instance, we plant the entire varieties close to one another within the subject in order that variability in soil high quality and microclimates is diminished. Additionally, we plant them in order that not one of the trial varieties are on the sting of the sphere, to keep away from the “edge impact.”

The qualities we had been requested to particularly observe included: uniformity of root form (we don’t need numerous variability throughout the similar selection) and root smoothness (ideally not too many root hairs or facet shoots that make the roots tougher to scrub and fewer enticing).

We took notes over the course of the season to undergo the directors to compile and examine with the opposite growers from throughout the nation.

Rutabaga varieties in our trial

Varieties we Trialed


Was bred in Quebec within the early 1900s. It’s a well-liked selection and has a deep purple high and cream-yellow flesh.


A green-topped selection with vibrant white flesh. It was both developed or found by John Gilfeather of Wardsboro, VT within the late 1800s who discovered it to be very talked-about with clients so labored exhausting to stop anybody else from rising it. It’s now the State Vegetable of Vermont and each October, Wardsboro hosts a competition (this 12 months would’ve been the 18th annual, although it was cancelled) the place Gilfeather is featured in each dish. It’s listed on Sluggish Meals’s Ark of Style. By way of consuming high quality, it was our favorite.


This purple-top selection was developed within the Maritimes to be clubroot-resistant. Clubroot causes root galling and deformity. It’s not one thing that has been a problem on our farm. It tends to be most problematic on moist, acidic soils.


This purple-top one was bred in Alberta and in our trial was most variable in form and development charge.


One other purple-topped one, we discovered it grew a bit slower than the opposite varieties, although it in the end rose to the highest for the qualities we had been on the lookout for on this trial.


A green-topped selection with golden flesh. This selection was delivered to North America by the parents from Adaptive Seeds in Oregon who discovered it in a backyard retailer in Lithuania whereas on their 2006 Seed Ambassadors Venture journey.

Why we Trial

I actually get pleasure from on-farm selection trials as a result of it helps us discover varieties which might be well-suited to our specific local weather, soil sort, subject administration fashion, and clients’ tastes. It’s additionally a helpful first step for seed-saving (if trialing open-pollinated varieties) so we are able to begin off with a spread that we like finest, after which enhance it over subsequent generations for our distinctive circumstances. Even earlier than we took half in nationwide trials we all the time trialed varieties of some crops every season for our personal information. However, it’s extra rewarding figuring out that our trial efforts might be utilized by others as effectively.

Listed below are a number of Recipes we discovered:

Gilfeather Turnip Pageant Soup


  • ¼ lb. butter
  • 8 cups unsalted Hen Inventory
  • 3 lbs. Gilfeather Turnip, peeled & chopped
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg, floor
  • 4 giant onions, chopped
  • Recent spinach, washed and de-stemmed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to style

Soften butter in 5 quart kettle and sauté chopped onion and garlic till gentle however not browned. Add inventory and chopped turnips and cook dinner till tender. Drain and reserve among the liquid. Puree combination in meals processor till clean. Put via a meals mill or sieve and return to kettle. Add seasonings and half and half. Combine effectively. Style and modify seasonings, if mandatory. Add reserved cooking liquid if soup is simply too thick. Sauté spinach in a small quantity of Olive Oil till simply wilted. Use spinach as a garnish on high of the soup earlier than serving or puree and use as a swirl on high of the soup. Or, use the turnip greens as an alternative of spinach. For a Vegetarian Model, use vegetable inventory.  (Recipe courtesy of Chef Greg Parks, previously of the 4 Columns Inn in Newfane.)

Fluffy Gilfeather Turnip Soufflé


  • 2 Tbls. Butter
  • 1 Tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Tbls. Onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbls. Sugar
  • 3 Cups Gilfeather Turnip, cooked and mashed
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Egg Yolks, crushed
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Egg Whites, stiffly crushed

Preheat oven to 400°F. Soften butter in a big pan. Add onion and sauté till a fragile brown. Add turnips, salt, sugar, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Combine effectively. Add the crushed egg yolks. Fold within the stiffly crushed egg whites. Put in greased baking dish or soufflé dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till stable in center.

Rural Supply journal

We wrote this text for the fantastic Atlantic Canadian journal Rural Supply. It’s considered one of our favorite magazines to get in our mailbox and, when you haven’t seen it but, you’re actually lacking out!

The subscription is an excellent deal. If you happen to’re curious about rural residing, test it out!



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