Combine the water and the bacon in a 4 quart saucepan. Cover and bring it up to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add the rutabagas and continue cooking covered for about an hour, checking the water level periodically to make sure the roots are mostly submerged.
The amount of time it takes for the rutabagas to soften up really depends on the age of the roots. I’ve cooked them as little as 30 minutes and as much as 2 hours, so you should test for doneness all along the way. Once the roots are very tender, drain off all but 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and pluck out the bacon.
Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Using a collard chopper or large fork, mash up the rutabagas. You’re looking for a chunky rustic texture. Taste and add a little more cooking liquid or sugar if you like.