Rutabaga/Swede

Rutabaga/Swede

General Information: This cabbage-family root is probably a cross between a turnip and kohlrabi. Swede have a distinctive yellow flesh, and they are very rich in minerals and vitamins. The name ‘swede’ comes from the Swedish name of this root – rotabagge which many people could not pronounce so they simply deferred to the generic Swedish root. In Switzerland, the swede has a long history. Originally it was an important vegetable for the poor and often referred to by the poor as the daily bread. It is a fast-growing vegetable rich in nutrients, and probably saved many lives in Switzerland during the not-so-rich era. With the time, people became more affluent and the swede was more or less forgotten and reduced to animal food. More recently, the root is making a comeback of sorts with farmers and gourmet vegetarians.

Season: September through November are the optimal months, but stored swede can be found through February.

Purchasing Tips: Early season swedes are tender and sweet – excellent in fact when peeled, sliced thin and enjoyed raw. Later in the season, swedes will become woody and more assertive in their flavor – great for purées and roasting. Like all roots, swedes should be heavy for their size and feel quite firm. Signs of age and decay will appear first near the stem area.

Storage: Best when stored in a cool, dark and relatively low humidity environment. Under proper conditions, swede can be stored for two months. Refrigerate no more than 2 weeks though, as they will be affected by the higher humidity levels and begin to decay.

Cooking Tips: Early-season swede can be peeled, sliced very thin and enjoyed raw in a salad or as a carpaccio. Also excellent in a roasted root vegetable mixture, puréed with potatoes or glazed in white wine and butter.

Nutritional Info: Excellent source of vitamin B6, foliate, calcium, potassium and copper, as well as a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and magnesium.

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