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Definition: swede from Philip's Encyclopedia

Root vegetable belonging to the mustard family (Brassicaceae/Cruciferae). The large, swollen taproot may be eaten cooked as a vegetable or fed to animals as fodder. Height: c.30cm (12in). Species B. napus napobrassica.

Summary Article: Rutabaga
from The Illustrated Cook's Book of Ingredients

This root-like member of the cabbage family is widely grown in the cooler parts of temperate zones around the world. Also called Swede, Swedish or Russian turnip, and, in Scotland, “neeps,” it has a deep, rich, sweet flavor. The flesh is yellowish-orange to yellowish-beige and darkens a little when cooked.


Fall and winter are the prime seasons for rutabagas. Look for medium-sized roots without any rot, pits, or scars. Avoid those that have been waxed to preserve moisture—they are invariably old and the wax can seal in mold spots that hasten loss of quality.


Rutabaga will keep well in the crisper of the fridge for 3–4 weeks; it will lose moisture and quality after that.


Cut sticks of sweet, crunchy rutabega for crudités, or grate into salads.


Boil, steam, bake, roast, deep-fry as fries, or add to soups and stews.


Include in a pickled vegetable medley or chutney.

Flavor pairings

Bacon, onions, carrots, cream, lemon, nutmeg, thyme.

Classic recipe

Haggis and neeps.

Purple rutabaga

This is a fine-textured variety with a mild flavor—slightly sweet with a hint of bitterness. Roasting caramelizes the juices and intensifies sweetness; boiling makes the flavor milder.

Yellow rutabaga

Very similar in flavor to the purple rutabaga, this has fine, yellow flesh. Coarsely grated raw, it adds color to a winter salad. It is also good for roasting.

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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