What to do with rutabaga

Try including this delicious root vegetable in meals and recipes.

Being from the Upper Peninsula of the great state of Michigan, I have a pretty good handle on what to do with a rutabaga. They are, of course, an integral ingredient of the pasty! However, there are a number of other things you can do with rutabagas, besides making pasties.

The rutabaga is a root vegetable that can be found at farmers markets or grocery stores just about any time throughout the year. They are darker and larger than a turnip with a purple-brown color. Most are waxed before sale. They keep for months when stored in a cool, dry place.

When choosing a rutabaga, look for those that are smooth and uncracked. Since it is a root vegetable, any cracks in its surface could harbor bacteria. Next, find a recipe and surprise your family with the unique taste of rutabaga. When you know what you will prepare, wash and peel the rutabaga. Slice or cube it and cook in a bit of boiling water for 20-35 minutes until tender. We would often have mashed rutabagas as a side at dinner, seasoned with salt, pepper and butter. They are delicious when added to soups or stews as well.

Here is a recipe for you to try:

Rutabaga “Dinner Pancakes”

1 egg

2 tablespoons of milk

2 cups of peeled and grated rutabagas

½ cup of chopped onion

2 tablespoons of oil

Pepper to taste

Mix together egg, milk and pepper. Stir in grated rutabaga and onion.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Put small amount of batter into skillet to form a pancake. When brown on the bottom, turn over to brown the other side. Makes 8 pancakes. These are great served with pork, turkey or roasted chicken.

No matter which new vegetable you try this season, make sure to follow safe food handling procedures. Wash your hands often. Clean and sanitize all preparation surfaces. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, making sure your refrigerator and freezer are both at the correct temperature for safety – under 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the fridge and under 0 degrees F for the freezer.

Enjoy Michigan’s harvest this fall, and if you have questions about foods, their preservation or food safety, contact your local Michigan State University Extension office.

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