Turnips (Brassica napobrassica) and rutabagas (Brassica rapa) can be found in the produce section of the grocery store, but these root veggies can be difficult to tell apart. While they are both from the same family, they are not the same veggie. In fact, the rutabaga is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage, says the Iowa State University Extension. Some refer to rutabagas as "Swedes" or "yellow turnips".
Turnips are globe shaped with white skin and flesh. They may have either green or purple shoulders. Turnips have one taproot with no distinct neck at the top. Foliage consists of light, thin leaves that are slightly hairy sprouting directly from the top of the turnip.
Rutabagas are larger and are typically conically shaped with a taproot with and side root. The top tapers to a distinct neck and sports smooth, blue-green foliage similar to cabbage leaves. The skin of a rutabaga is yellow and the flesh is yellow-orange.
Turnips have crisp, zesty flesh and are often served in salads or eaten raw with dip. Rutabagas have a milder and creamier flavor. Rutabagas are often boiled or baked and mashed or added to soups and casseroles. Turnips can also be used in stews or casseroles.
While they both require the same growing conditions, rutabagas require a longer growing season. Rutabagas require 90 days to maturity while some turnips reach maturity in as few as 35 days. Most turnips mature in 55 to 60 days.
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