A member of the cabbage family, rutabaga is often one of the last vegetables to be harvested in the fall. In fact, the longer it’s left in the soil, the sweeter it gets. Preparing one for cooking, however, can be challenging. Buy smaller rutabagas, work on a solid surface, and be sure your knife is properly sharpened before you begin.
Place the rutabaga on a firm surface and slice a thin section off both the top and bottom to create a flat base to rest it on while peeling and slicing. Using a very sharp knife or vegetable peeler, remove small sections of the peel at a time. If the rutabaga is very large, you may have to remove the skin in layers. Continue peeling as far down as you can safely go, then flip the rutabaga over to finish the other end.
You can also cut the rutabaga in half length-wise, resting one flat end on your work surface and cutting down from top to bottom. Then lie each half cut-side down and slice it crosswise into inch-thick pieces. Peel each slice with a smaller sharp knife or vegetable peeler, placing the blade under the skin at one end and drawing the knife toward you. Finish by cutting the peeled slices into 1-inch cubes.
Rutabagas are generally purple and brownish-yellow and have a mild sweet flesh. They range in size from baseball-sized to almost soccer-ball sized, with the smaller ones being sweeter and more firm. Commercial growers dip rutabagas in wax to enhance moisture retention and extend their shelf lives. Home- or farm-grown rutabagas without a wax coating are a little easier to peel.
References and ResourcesReal Simple: Rutabaga
Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network: What's So Great About Rutabaga?
The Kitchn: Why You Should Give Rutabaga a Chance
North Carolina State University Extension: Turnips and Rutabagas