Everything You Need to Know About Swede

When you think of the delicious vegetable swede, think about the cruciferous family, as its close relatives are the cauliflower, broccoli and kale clan. Hailing all the way from the alluring Swedish lands, this root vegetable is a gem, as it is versatile and can be partnered with any cuisine.  Steamed, baked or added to soups, swede renders its mild sweet flavour as it is always a pallet pleaser with its nuttiness. The question that we all want answers to is, how to cook swede? Here are the answers to all your questions about this crowned queen.

What is swede?

Swede, a root vegetable which appears in a single form, but has many different names, is a popular accompaniment in most cuisines. With its bulbous figure, and attractive plum crown, it is an eye catcher in the vegetable aisle.  Well, it actually is as promising as it looks once you cut into it.  Light saffron skinned on the inside with a squash like carroty fragrance, the swede vegetable is a compliment to any dish, a celebrated dish at Christmas time, parading alone or with an entrée. 

What Does Swede Taste Like?

The taste and texture of swede has been compared to turnips, potatoes, carrots, and even cabbages, causing confusion amongst the clueless. The reason for all the different comparisons is because swede is so versatile that it can take on the flavour of whatever dish it is added to, enriching the dish with both its enhanced darkened colour when cooked, and its squash like texture. It is also the length of time that it is cooked for that will determine the desired taste and texture. Swede is known to be sweet when roasted or added to stews and soups, and quite buttery when mashed.

When Is Swede In Season?

Known to appear in its wholesome form during the cooler seasons, swede is best grown in moist cool soil, making them ready for harvest in six months. Best harvested in autumn, they are a hearty addition in stews and soups, providing warmth in the form of soul food. 

How to Choose The Best Swede?

Choosing the best swede will have to do with season and size, as the best swede is grown and harvested in cooler weather, while the size will determine its taste or texture. As we all have different preferences when it comes to taste and texture, there are guidelines that we can refer to when choosing the best swede. If it is a tender and sweet swede that you wish to devour, then the smaller, younger swede is what you should go for, and If it is a nutty buttery taste that you’re after, then the larger firmer swede would be ideal.

What Are The Alternatives To Swede?

Swede is often referred to as a turnip although it is not, however, turnips are a great substitute for swede.  They may be different in size, taste and colour, but their texture is quiet similar. Turnips, like swede, also have the versatile ability to take on the flavour of any dish that it is added to. Carrots and radishes are also good alternatives, depending on the taste and texture that you desire. Choose carrots for sweetness, and radishes for texture.

The Difference between Swedes and Turnips

Swedes and turnips are like doppelgangers, deceiving to those even in the know. Being a part of the Brassica genus, they are both root vegetables with almost identical features causing the big confusion. The similarities in shape, colour and size can be deceiving to the eye, but when examined a little closer, the differences are  quiet visible. Here are a few tips on how to tell them apart. 

  • Swedes have bluish – green, thick and smooth leaves while the turnip has thin, hairy, light green leaves.
  • Although swedes and turnips have a similar plum crown, swedes are generally much larger than turnips, as they are left to grow for much longer, and harvested when they are about 5 to 6 inches in diameter.
  • When cut open, the insides of the swede is a rich saffron colour whereas the turnip is white. The colour of the swede darkens when cooked compared to the translucent colour of the cooked turnip.
  • Swedes and turnips are very similar in texture as both are root vegetables that have the versatility to encumber any flavour making them interchangeable in recipes.
  • This is where swedes and turnips differentiate much. Swedes are known for their mild sweet flavour, whereas turnips are remembered for their strong, zesty, pungent flavour.

How to Prepare Swede?

With its tough exterior, swedes can be difficult to cut if you don’t have a sharp enough knife, however, some extra muscle and elbow grease should do the trick. Here are a few guidelines that you can follow to prepare your swede:

  • Place swede on a flat surface holding it firmly, and using a sharp knife, cut off the ends.
  • Use a knife or a peeler to remove the skin.
  • Cut swede through the middle, getting two halves (elbow grease is needed here). Then slice into pieces or cubes and use as desired.

How to Store Swede?

If you’re planning to store swede for a couple of months, then the most rewarding method would be to clean and layer them in boxes with dry soil, making sure that they are stored in a cool dry place. This will ensure that they stay fresh for several months. Alternatively, swede can be stored in the freezer, cooked or uncooked, with a lifespan of up to 6 months.

How to Cook Swede?

With endless options, and some sought after recipes surrounding swede, the variety of dishes that it can be added to are plenty. Whether you would like to enjoy it on its own, boiled, mashed or baked, or whether you would like it accompanied with other varieties, swede is still a winner on the table, enhancing the taste of stews and curries with its sweetness. The variations to prepare this pallet pleaser are endless, however, it can be a bit tricky. If swede is overcooked it can fall apart, so make sure to keep a close eye on it when preparing it.

Benefits to Swede

Rich in antioxidants and vitamins with an abundance of nutrients, swedes are very rewarding, aiding in the prevention of disease, and the maintenance of daily health. Swedes are a healthier option than potatoes, and can be used as a substitute. Here are some of the reasons why swedes are beneficial:

  • Aids in reducing blood pressure
  • Contributes to a healthy digestive system
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Helps in speeding up metabolism
  • Enhances weight loss
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease
  • Prevents premature ageing
  • Prevents diabetes

These are just a few valuable benefits of this delicious vegetable. Swedes are a winner in the health and fitness dictionary, as they have an abundance of contributing factors.

Top 3 Recipes with Swede

It’s time to tantalize your taste buds.

Swede Mash

  • Serves: 2 
  • Preparation Time: 10minutes 
  • Cooking Time: 20 minutes


  • 500g chopped swede
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Boil the cubed swede in a heavy bottom pan until soft. Remove from the stove and mash the cooked swede. Add the butter, pepper and salt and mix. Swede mash is ready to serve.

Roasted Swede

  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation Time:  15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1 hour
  • Oven temperature: 350 F / 180 C


  • 1kg cubed swede
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven. Chop the swede into chunks or cubes. Add the chopped swede to your baking pan. Add the olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. Mix it all together and put it into the oven to roast, staring it every 15 minutes. Stir in the cumin seeds after 50 minutes, and place it back into the oven to roast for the remaining 10 minutes. Garnish with the chilli flakes and honey (optional), and serve. 

Roasted Swede with Parmesan

  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1 hour
  • Oven temperature: 350 F / 180 C


  • 1kg swede cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 100g parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven. Add the swede, olive oil, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and parmesan to the oven tray. Give them all a toss together until they are well coated. Add blobs of the butter throughout the tray of swede. Bake in the oven for the estimated time, tossing the swedes every 15 minutes. Garnish with a few rosemary leaves and serve.