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Similar to the turnip, but smaller, swede is one of those vegetables that’s easily available, but which a lot of people have never tried.

Under its purple and beige skin lurks a soft, creamy yellow flesh with a sweet, nutty flavour that can either be used raw, or give a new twist to a favourite cooked dish.

Swede is a nutritious vegetable that’s high in essential minerals. In addition to having some vitamin A and vitamin C, it’s a good source of calcium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Choose swede that feels heavy for its size and is relatively unblemished. Wrinkles around the top are normal, however. As with many vegetables, smaller ones tend to have a sweeter, milder flavour.

Stored in the fridge, you can keep swede for two weeks.



Swede, as its name suggests, was first noted by a Swiss botanist in 1620 as growing wild in Sweden, but it was possibly the result of a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. It was known in France and Britain in the late 17th century, gaining in popularity and importance over the next 100 years, and was introduced to the United States in the 19th century, where it’s known as ‘rutabaga’.


Like most root vegetables, swede has a multitude of uses. Boiled and mashed, it makes a nice change from mashed potatoes, or you can add it to mashed potatoes with milk and butter to give your spuds a little extra something. In Sweden, they call this rotmos. Mashed swede is also popular in Scotland as a side dish for haggis, which is commonly eaten with ‘neeps and tatties’ (ie. swede or turnip and potatoes).

Swede is also good roasted, or can be added to stews for extra nutrition and bulk. You can also use swede raw; for example, grated and served in a salad. If you’re lucky enough to be able to grow swede, or if you can find it with its tops still attached, the leaves are good to eat as a leafy green.

Cooking times are similar to kumara.


In Scotland at Halloween, it’s traditional to hollow out and carve swede or turnip. Carving pumpkin is an American custom which originates from Scotland, but using a native vegetable.

Sweetcorn »« Spring Onions


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