Swede

This root veg originated from a cross between cabbage and turnip.

Alternative Name

Neep, rutabaga, Swedish turnip, yellow turnip

Scientific Name

Brassica napus var. napobrassica

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Swede is a root vegetable with yellow flesh and pale yellow skin with a purplish band. They have a sweet and delicate flavour, and a tender texture. They can be used as an alternative to potatoes and become sweeter if cooked slower—roast or bake for maximum sweetness. Swede goes well with butter and gravy, and works in soup or mashed.

Information for farmers+

Harvesting
A high quality swede has a well-shaped, purple-top root that has a smooth, small neck and a well-defined taproot. Roots should be firm, fresh looking and heavy for their size. Lightweight swede may be 'woody'. Swede should be harvested when fully mature. Roots entering storage should be clean, and free from disease and frost injury. Impact injury is one of the main causes of harvest injury.

Postharvest storage temperature
Roots should be cooled as quickly as possible in order to avoid excessive moisture loss. Brown surface discolouration called 'storage burn' can be largely controlled by rapid cooling at 0°C together with adequate air circulation. If harvested when the soil or air is above 25°C, roots should be cooled within 3–4 hours to avoid loss of quality during storage. Room-cooling is most commonly used, however, forced-air cooling, hydrocooling and package icing can also be used to retard development of skin discolouration, weight loss and decay.

Controlled atmosphere storage
There are no indications that swede stored in controlled atmosphere has superior quality or longer shelf life than roots stored at normal atmosphere at 0°C with high relative humidity. Furthermore, CO2 >8% is injurious to swede.

Ethylene sensitivity
Swede produces very low amounts of ethylene and exposure is not an important factor.

Humidity storage
It is critical to maintain a high relative humidity in storage (95%). Swede, similar to carrots and parsnips, has no protection against loss of moisture from evaporation. Exposure to low relative humidity results in excessive moisture loss and a shrivelled appearance. Swede for immediate marketing are often waxed to enhance appearance and protect against excessive moisture loss. Waxed roots will keep well under refrigerated conditions for 1–2 months. Roots for long-term storage should not be waxed, since wax coatings become unsightly during storage and it may impede adequate gas exchange.

Disease & infection
Rot diseases are promoted by storage at higher than recommended temperatures. Brown soft rot is a major pathogen. Mould growth typically begins at sites of tissue damage and then spreads to adjacent roots creating a dense surface growth of mycelium and conidia. Black rot caused by phoma lingam causes restricted dry, corky, dark brown or blackish lesions with a sparse superficial growth of white mycelium. Phoma lesions can occur both at cut surfaces, where discolouration frequently spread into the vascular tissue and as small craters on undamaged skin.

Preparation & Storage+
Peel before use. Keep in cool, dark cupboard.
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Veggy tip

Try swede raw as batons with dips or grate into a coleslaw. Alternatively, steam and mash with freshly ground black pepper and butter or add julienne sticks to a stir-fry at the same time as carrot.