I hadn’t realized that swedes were the subject of some confusion in the English-speaking world. They come from the same family as turnips and look like giant ones, but whereas turnips have white flesh, a peeled swede has a golden yellow flesh. These vegetables are known as rutabaga in the States but they are not genetically the same, it would seem.
   The rutabaga has 38 chromosomes, the swede 18 or 19 and the turnip 10. This information isn’t much use when buying a swede, but that’s the difference between them. Even in Britain now, people confuse swede and turnips and that is a little hard to understand. However it could have something to do with the Scots who call swedes “neeps”. They are served at Burn’s Night banquets with tatties (potatoes) and haggis.
    No one seems to be able to say for certain where the Swede originated, but the US name rutabaga comes from the Swedish name for this vegetable “rottabaggar,” meaning “turnip cabbage” It is believed by some that the swede came from Bohemia (Eastern Europe) in the 17th century, but the English name would rather suggest that it came from Sweden. It might be a cross between kale and a turnip, hence the name “cabbage turnip” In 1768 a Mr. Reynolds was given “a Bounty of Fifty Pounds … for his introduction of the turnep rooted cabbage not heretofore made use (of) in this Country”, by the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in Britain, now called The Royal Society of Arts.
    The swede was first described in detail by a Swiss botanist in 1620 and there are references to what were probably swedes in the late Middle Ages.
cut swede
   Like other members of the Brassica family which includes broccoli and brussel sprouts, the swede is good for your health. It contains high levels of potassium, which helps prevent cardiovascular disease and lowers blood pressure. The fibre content in swedes will relieve constipation and they are also a mild diuretic. They contain vitamins  C, E and K, as well as the B-complex ones, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, B6, folate, traces of selenium, pantothenic acid, choline, folate, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, zinc and are high in calcium. They also have Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. The young leaves are high in vitamin A and calcium and can be cooked as you would cabbage and eaten as a vegetable. When boiled they are a very good source of vitamin C.
   If you have kidney problems you should avoid eating swedes, but otherwise they are good for milk production in breast-feeding mothers, improve stamina and digestion, asthma and lower incidences of bruising. They also lower the risk of cataracts forming in the eyes. Because they contain both zinc and thiamin they are good for erectile dysfunctions too, although they are not well-known for their aphrodisiac properties!
   You can eat them boiled and then mixed with walnuts, raisins and honey, as they have a sweet taste. You cut them in cubes and boil in salted water for about 20 minutes. You can roast them too: parboil them (cubed and peeled) then toss in sunflower oil and roast for 45 mins in a moderate oven, or parboil them and put them around roasting meat, covering them with the meat juices. They are good mashed with carrots, turnips, potatoes and butter, or with any of those vegetables, singly. You can also add them to soups and they are especially good with turnips, carrots and parsnips
bashed neeps, tatties and carrots

½ kg swede, peeled and cubed and boiled for 20 mins in salted water
¾ kg potatoes, boiled
40 gr butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Strain the potatoes and swede and mash together with butter, salt and pepper.
Serve with meat of your choice.
This has Taste and is a Treat.


  1. They are lovely shredded with carrots, boiled quickly for about 10 minutes, then drain, add some butter and pepper.

  2. Swedes are the most versatile vegetable, they are tasty in every possible which way why, on their own, with carrots, parsnips, potatoes, they are fast to cook & loaded with vitamins & minerals....go get some yum..oh & they have next to no calories or fat!!!

  3. Thinly slice the swede and layer, with a sprinkling of brown sugar between each layer, into a container until about 2/3 full. Leave over night and the liquid formed makes a very effective cough mixture. Keep in the 'fridge.