Description - The rutabaga is very similar to the turnip except that it generally has yellowish flesh, a more dense root with more side shoots and they are usually harvested at a larger size. Unlike the turnip, the rutabaga has smooth, waxy leaves.

Culture - Requires the same growing conditions as the turnip--cool conditions for rapid growth and good quality. Planting should be done in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. In the fall, multiple plantings can be made but should be stopped in order for the rutabaga root to form before extremely cold weather occurs. Rutabagas do better in the fall than in the spring due to the longer time they take to mature -- about 30 to 45 days longer than turnips.

Availability - Rutabagas can be found the year round in Texas, although they are not common in most retail outlets due to low demand. Locally grown rutabaga should be on the market from April through July and from October through December.

Selection - Mature rutabaga roots should be four to six inches in diameter and free of bruises and blemishes. Commercially grown roots are often waxed for storage purposes. Rutabagas are seldom sold with tops.

Storage - If stored between 32 to 35 degrees. F. and at a humidity near 90 percent rutabagas will keep for four to six months. Waxed roots will keep under refrigerator conditions for one to two months.

Nutrition Information - A 3-1/2 ounce cooked serving of rutabaga contains 144 calories, 35 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and only 18 milligrams of sodium.

Preparation - Wash and peel rutabagas as you would a potato.

Microwave Instructions - Wash, peel, and cube about two cups of rutabagas. Place in 1-quart casserole with two tablespoons water. Microwave on high for four to six minutes. Stir once.

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