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Growing and Using Rutabagas

Every year I try to grow something new in the garden.  This little experiment has introduced us to some tasty things and some complete flops in the gardening department. Rutabagas were one of these experiments and a very successful one at that. So successful in fact that rutabagas will always have a place in our garden.  They’re easy to grow, full of nutrition, and super tasty.  Just typing this is making me excited for our first taste in a couple of months. If you’re new to this amazing root vegetable here’s a guide to growing and using rutabagas.

Make the most of easy to grow, versatile, and delicious root vegetables with this guide to growing and using rutabagas in the garden and kitchen.

Growing Rutabagas

Rutabagas should be direct seeded in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. For regions with very hot summers, plant them about 90 days before the first frost of fall as a fall crop. They can take a frost, so don’t worry about that in the spring or fall.  Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. When they sprout thin them to 8 inches apart in rows 2 feet apart. 4 Rutabagas to a square for those following a square foot gardening plan.

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Harvesting Rutabaga

The tops will appear above the soil line. Pull them when they get big about 3 to 5 inches in diameter. All little more, a little less won’t hurt anything.

Preserving Rutabaga

Rutabagas are not recommended for canning.  Every source I’ve ever read says that the canning process changes the flavor of rutabagas to something awful, so skip canning this root vegetable.

They keep well in a root cellar for 2-6 months with cool, moist darkness.  Store them in moist sand or sawdust.

Freeze rutabagas by dicing into 1/2 inch cubes, boil for 2 minutes, drain, cool, and store in freezer containers.

Dehydrate by slicing 1/8 inch thick, spreading on dehydrator trays and dry until crisp.

Using Rutabagas

Roast them, this is hands down our favorite way to eat them.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and chop rutabagas into 1/2 inch cubes.  Spread the cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat. Roast in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve like hashbrowns.

They can be cooked and mashed or pureed like potatoes in soups.

Grate them and eat raw in salads or slaws.

Do you grow rutabagas?  Have a favorite way to eat them?

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Saturday 30th of November 2019

Growing up,my mom boiled rutabaga and potatoes together and served them mashed,still my favorite veggie! They add a nutty flavor and is a tradition in our if the rutabaga is 2 to one with potatoes.


Tuesday 17th of July 2018

How do you keep the worms away when there small plants?

Kathie Lapcevic

Friday 20th of July 2018

The easiest way to do this to cover with netting. I don't have a problem the cabbage worms / moths but I know plenty of folks who use the netting.


Monday 4th of May 2015

So much better than turnips, so say my kids. Plus, they turn that pleasing golden color when you mash them in place of potatoes. What's not to love?

Dan T.

Thursday 29th of September 2016

I add carrots and some finely minced onion to my rutabagas before cooking for a bright and hearty dish. My grandkids even like the flavor.

Angi @ SchneiderPeeps

Monday 4th of May 2015

I'm putting these on the fall garden list! Thanks