Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of summer residents know rutabaga only by hearsay, and children are generally deprived of this one of the most useful vegetables.
Rutabaga is one of the oldest vegetable plants; it has been "tamed" by man since time immemorial. Her wild ancestors are unknown. It is believed that it arose as a result of the natural crossing of turnip and cabbage.
But the rutabagas were unlucky at first. If the turnip in ancient Rome was served on the table even to the emperor, then even the poor neglected the turnip.
During the Middle Ages, rutabaga spread throughout Europe as a very tasty and healthy vegetable. She was especially loved in Germany. Sweet rutabaga became Goethe's favorite vegetable. If every Russian from childhood knows the tale about the turnip, then the Germans also have a popular tale about the rutabaga and the mountain spirit of Ryubetsal. Rutabaga came to England in the 16th century, and rutabaga with meat is still a national English dish there.
In Russia, rutabaga appeared at the end of the 18th century and became the most widespread. But with the introduction of the potato crop, the area under it has sharply decreased. It is difficult to say for what reason this happened. But our ancestors treated this culture differently than we did, putting it on a par with the most valuable food crops. And today in the Baltic countries, not to mention the distant abroad, significant areas of crops are allotted for rutabagas.
In terms of nutritional and medicinal properties, rutabagas are very similar to turnips. The nutritional value of rutabagas is low, but it is famous for its very high vitamin content. It contains more vitamin C (40 mg%) than carrots, beets or cabbage. Moreover, this vitamin in swede is well preserved for a long time during storage. In terms of vitamin B6 content, rutabaga far surpasses all root vegetables, onions, cabbage or other vegetables.
It is rich in rutabagas and mineral salts of potassium - 227 mg%, calcium - 47 mg%. And in terms of the content of iodine, which is scarce in the Urals (4 μg%), it is one of the richest plants in the garden.
When properly cooked, rutabaga retains almost all the nutrients it contains and produces a delicious dish that can be compared to potatoes. But the advantage of the swede is that it can be stored for a very long time.
Rutabaga contains mustard oil, which has bactericidal properties that have a detrimental effect on harmful microflora, and gives the dishes prepared from it a peculiar taste and aroma. And its carbohydrates are represented mainly by fructose, which makes it useful for patients with diabetes mellitus.
In folk medicine, the use of rutabagas is varied. Dishes from rutabagas improve digestion, increase intestinal motility and are recommended for obesity. But with constipation due to the abundance of fiber, it is better not to use the root crop itself, but replace it with juice, which has a laxative effect.
Rutabaga has a diuretic effect, therefore it is very useful for edema, it is included in the diet of patients with atherosclerosis. It is also effective as an expectorant. For medicinal purposes, rutabagas are used both raw and steamed in the oven.
It is not recommended to use rutabagas for acute inflammatory bowel diseases and hypertension.
Biological features of rutabagas
Rutabaga, like turnip, belongs to the cruciferous family. This plant is biennial. In the first year, it develops a rosette of leaves and a large fleshy root crop, in the second year it blooms and gives seeds.
The leaves of the turnip are fleshy, dissected. The root crop is often flat-rounded, rather large, rises above the soil surface. Its upper part is dirty green or purple-red, and the lower part is yellow. The pulp is firm, yellow in different shades or white. A noticeable thickening of the root crop begins 35–40 days after germination.
Rutabaga is a very cold hardy plant and can be grown in the northernmost farming zones.Its seeds begin to germinate at a temperature of 2-4 degrees, and seedlings already appear at an average daily temperature of 6 degrees. Seedlings can withstand frosts down to minus 4 degrees, and adult plants can withstand temperatures as low as minus 6 degrees. The best temperature for the growth and development of root crops is 16–20 degrees. At higher temperatures, plants are inhibited, and their taste deteriorates.
Rutabaga is demanding on lighting, prefers long daylight hours and high soil moisture, but does not tolerate both a prolonged excess of moisture in the soil and its strong lack.
The selection of varieties of rutabagas in garden plots is still poor, but new excellent varieties of foreign selection have appeared in the trade, which have excellent qualities and completely change the idea of \ u200b \ u200bthe taste of rutabagas. It is not without reason that it is in great demand in European countries, especially among English and German gourmets.