Is green rutabaga toxic (like green potatoes)?

Maynard, MA

Although most my rutabagas are under the ground where they "should" be, the top section of some of them are above the soil. These top parts have turned green.

I know that when potatoes are exposed to light, they turn green, and are toxic. Is the same true for rutabagas? I really want one for dinner tonight, but I don't want to go to the ER!

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

You can eat your green turnips. The green in potatoes is indicative of high levels of solanine, a chemical found in nightshades. Solanine helps defend the plant from pests and might more likely give you a tummy ache then send you to the ER. Turnips and their relatives are not related to potatoes, tomatoes and other nightshades. You can safely eat green potatoes if you peel away the green layer which is always at the top and between the flesh and skin. People often throw out useful food because they don't understand how to handle it.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Are rutabaga and turnips the same thing?

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Not quite. Rutabaga is Brassica napobrassica and turnip is Brassica rapa. In some places they call rutabaga's turnips.

Fairfax, VA(Zone 7a)

MaypopLaurel, that's what I'd always heard, but the NIH differs: Although the majority of the solanine is concentrated in the skin, the rest of the "green" potato would also have elevated levels.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Thanks for the link. Of course NIH is a credible source. There is debate on this topic as you have pointed out. One should check multiple sources. Check here under FAQs for a different answer from the Idaho Potato Commission. Other sites, including medical ones, will tell you that though your chance of getting potato poisoning is slim even if you eat green potatoes, the most common symptom is gastric distress (a stomach ache). I have never seen a patient admitted to an ER with potato poisoning. As part of a large food redistribution project, I pick up and deliver produce including green potatoes from the smaller organic chain markets as well as the large national grocery stores. The agencies we deliver to and the stores we receive from are very careful about what is allowed to be redistributed.

Sorry I won't be able to continue this discussion because I am about to have limited internet access but thanks for the input. The topic is something of interest to many. Because of the way potatoes are shipped, stored and displayed today they are commonly green.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks Nichole. I've grown turnips but never rutabaga and they are in different locations in the seed catalogs too. Just wondering.....

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I thought Turnips were for spring & fresh eating, and Rutabagas were for fall & storage. I don't know where I got that idea - I think maybe that was they way they were grown when I was a kid. I think both of them naturally grow with their "shoulders" sticking up out of the soil.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Rutabagas are a fall crop because they need a long cool season to mature. Here in the South, turnips can be seeded spring, late summer and fall. The seed germinates well in cool, wet soil. Depending on variety they are 40-70 odd days to harvest so we can select varieties best for the season. Turnips here are also grown for greens. Some varieties are best for greens and, with those varieties, the root is mostly disposed of. That was a new one for me when I moved here years ago. I watched a friend prepping turnips to cook and she kept tossing the roots in the garbage. When I pointed out her presumed confusion she thought it was nutz that anyone would keep the turnips for the roots. She only put a couple in the greens pot for flavoring and never bought turnips for their roots.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

We ate the turnip roots early while they were still sweet and mild, and ate the greens when the roots started to get spicier and tougher. I don't remember ever having Rutabaga greens - do people eat those too?

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I've used the greens with mixed greens; more on the order of winter foraging. We can keep the deer out of the garden in summer but they are willing to jump fences by the time the rutabagas are prime. They love the greens and will paw the roots out.

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