Thursday, 13 January 2011

Is it a Swede, no its a Turnip (neep)

Well it depends where you are.

I am about to post a recipe on my blog using Swede and whenever I do it causes much discussion. So I thought I'd show you a photograph of this vegetable.

For me this is a Swede and the vegetable below are turnips which are much smaller in size.
Author of The Great Big Vegetable Challenge writes 'turnips can be confusing'. Are they different to Swedes? She asked several gardeners who told her that the swede is in fact a Swedish turnip, known in the USA as rutabaga. To add to this confusion, in Scotland the swede is often referred to as a turnip or a 'neep'. I also flicked through one of my Scottish cookbooks: Scots Cooking written by the Sue Lawrence and virtually every recipe she has using turnip was bracketed with swede. She writes 'What we call neeps is actually short for turnip - which is in fact not what is called turnip down South (meaning England) but swede'. Here let me show you some growing at Mals Allotment in Edinburgh.

Anyway, whilst doing some research about the swede, I was surprised to learn that once upon a time in Scotland on Halloween the top of the swedes were topped, then the hard flesh inside was carefully scooped out and eyes, nose and mouth were carved out. The swede was treated very much in the same manner as the pumpkin is in the USA. These carved swedes were then threaded with a wire and hooked onto a stick. At night the children would parade the streets with their scary 'neep' lanterns.
Anyway whether you call them a swede or a turnip, let us just agree to differ and acknowledge that this purple tinged vegetable is given a different name in different parts of the country, let alone the world.


  1. Yup - I grew up making lanterns out of neep. A hell of a lot more hard work than simply taking the seeds out of a nice, soft pumpkin.
    I love neep. Can't wait for Burn's Night.

  2. To the Yorkshire lass in me it's a turnip!! But my father-in-law, from Kent, did almost start a fight in Whitby over what it's really called.

  3. Scotland has a way of confusing me when it comes to turnips - I learnt to love them in Scotland and then found out they are called other names in other parts of the world but I still love to call them turnips - can't help but think that jack o lanterns with turnips would have been hard word

  4. How confusing I have a few recipes from an Australian magazine that ask for swede.It took me awhile to find out just what they were.Yes, they are sometimes called Rutabaga here but,growing up the name turnip was used to describe the swede more than not.On another note......I'm going to a pie party at the end of the month.I've been asked to do a vegetarian one. Got a favorite?

  5. Goodmorning sweety! Happy New Year... :)

  6. A swede, definitely a swede and we used to carve them out when we were kids too. It was hard work I can tell you. I am so glad pumpkins are used now, saves a lot of hand ache in October. But a swede smells nicer when burnt by the candle.

  7. I agree with you, the top one is a swede and below is a turnip! That is the right way :p

  8. I agree too - swede at the top, turnip at the bottom!!

  9. In Belgium, we call those smaller ones, turnips ( raapjes ). Those larger ones, we can't get them in Belgian stores.

    I love turnips a lot, yellow ones & the normal pink/white ones. I make a milk b├ęchamel sauce with it or a mustard sauce. It is known in Belgium as an under estimated veggie!
    I just moved my blog to Come over @ my blog & check it out! You need to update your RSS!


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