The rutabaga (sometimes called a "Swede" or yellow turnip) is a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. Rutabagas are denser and larger than the turnip and have a sweeter flavor.
Unless you can find local, seasonal rutabaga, you'll usually find it coated with a layer of wax. The wax helps prevent moisture loss. Store fresh rutabagas in the refrigerator.
If you don't have a root cellar, freezing is an excellent option for preserving fresh rutabagas.
When shopping, choose firm rutabagas, heavy for their size. You'll typically find scars and ridges but be sure to look for any signs of damage to the skin.
How to Blanch Rutabagas for the Freezer
- Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
- Fill a large kettle or stockpot with water; bring it to a boil over high heat.
- Trim the tops and roots of the rutabaga. Peel with a y-peeler or vegetable peeler. I find a y-peeler works very well on the waxy skin, but use what works best for you.
- Rinse the peeled rutabaga and dice into pieces similar in size. Transfer to the boiling water, about 1 pound at a time.
- Bring the water back to boiling and begin timing for 2 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables and immediately immerse in the ice water. Cool completely.
- Arrange the chunks on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze for about 2 hours, then transfer to freezer storage bags. Seal the bags, removing as much air as possible (see tips, below). Label with the vegetable name and date and freeze for up to 12 months.
To cook the blanched frozen rutabaga, cook in boiling water until tender or add to stews, pot roasts, or soups.
How to Freeze Pureed Rutabaga
- Rinse the peeled rutabaga and cut into large chunks.
- Put the rutabaga chunks in a large stockpot or saucepan and cover with water. Add about 1 tablespoon of salt for each gallon of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until very tender, about 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks.
- Drain the cooked rutabaga and put it back in the pot over low heat, stirring until the extra liquid has evaporated.
- Transfer the well-drained rutabaga to a food processor with metal blade. Process until smooth. Optionally, add a few teaspoons of butter to each pound of rutabaga puree, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Pack into containers, leaving about 1/2-inch of headspace. Or pack into freezer storage bags and smooth out to make a flat-pack (pictured). The flat-pack takes up less space in the freezer and thaws quickly. Freeze for up to 12 months.
- To cook, reheat the puree, stirring, in a heavy saucepan.
A vacuum sealing system is an excellent appliance for packing diced blanched vegetables for the freezer. If you don't have one, try the straw method. Zip the bag up, leaving just enough room to insert a straw. Suck out excess air and complete the seal.