Rutabaga ( Brassica napus L. var. napobrassica ) is sometimes confused with turnip greens ( Brassica napus L. var. napus ) as they are the same botanical species but different varieties. Both are edible root brassicas but the rutabaga has a rounded, yellow – fleshed root, while the turnip greens have a more elongated, white-fleshed root. This variety was first described in 1620 by the Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin and has been cultivated more in Central and Northern Europe, compared to the Mediterranean region. In Portugal
it is still cultivated in Trás-os-Montes by some older farmers who call it “tails”, perhaps due to the original designation of rutabaga, when introduced in the region in the 18th century, coming from Northern Europe. is still found, it is no longer very common.
Its agricultural and food qualities justify greater importance, cultivation and consumption.
Now that we need to make better use of the earth’s resources, perhaps it is a good time for greater dissemination of rutabaga, not only in its traditional region but also in others. In our garden in Sintra we cultivated it for the first time in autumn/winter 2014/2015 and the adaptation was the best.
It was sown a little late, on the 5th of October, not in a definitive place as is customary to do, but in alveoli plates (due to lack of prepared soil), and was already well established 12 days later (figure 1).
Figure 1 – Rutabagas identified here as “cabbage-turnip nº 30” as described in the Catalog of the Association “Colher para Semear” (Sintra, 17.10.2014)
It was transplanted on the 16th of November, already showing medium growth and good radical development (fig. 2).
Figure 2 – Rutabaga plant ready to plant (Sintra, 16.11.2014)
Once planted, they received the abundant autumn rains and thanked them with vigorous growth, later resisting the winter cold, and developing good foliage without any symptoms of pest or disease (fig. 3), until they created thick roots edibles (fig. 4).
Figure 3 – Rutabaga plants with good leaf growth, in the company of garlic, after the most intense winter cold has passed (Sintra, 28.02.2015)
This plant is considered even more resistant than the turnip to the cold, so it is well adapted winter all over the country including the coldest regions. As for the soil, they prefer fresh and clayey ones.
Figure 4 – Rutabaga plants with good root growth and already at the beginning of heading, and after a few leaves have been harvested (Sintra, 13.04.2015)
As for the culinary qualities, the first surprise was the pleasant taste of the leaves, which very well replaced the lack of turnip greens, which we didn’t grow this time.
Then the root, which made a good base for the soup and which left other possible uses open for when there is more time to look for recipes that are still unusual in traditional Portuguese cuisine. Finally, turnip greens, which can also replace turnip greens, with a different but also pleasant taste, perhaps a little less bitter.
Despite also being known as “cod of the poor” we do not notice the flavor of the “faithful friend”. Perhaps this designation stems more from use in wartime and postwar Europe., namely in Germany after the first and second world wars, which is why it was associated with situations of hunger and misery.
Finally, we highlight the richness in glucosinolates, antioxidants from brassicas that are known to be more associated with broccoli, but which are also present in substantial quantities in rutabaga.
EsmeraldAzul – for a healthy, conscious and sustainable life.