Swedes belong to the same family as turnips and cabbages.

They are a hybrid between a turnip and a type of cabbage and were developed in Sweden in the 17th century and are also known as Swedish turnips or rutabaga - Swedish for red bags, which refers to the purple, bronze crowns. Different cultures have developed their own ways to use them.

Swedes have a delicate, sweet flavour, a great texture and are very versatile. The top half of the swede is purple, and the lower half cream. Swedes are more available in winter and taste better after a good frost, therefore the best swedes in New Zealand are reputed to be those grown in Southland. The leaves are eaten in many countries, however, it's the edible roots that are commercially available in New Zealand.

What to look for

Choose smaller swedes, about the size of a cricket ball, with smooth skin and firm flesh.


All year; limited supply in summer.


Refrigerate in plastic bags.

How to prepare

If swedes are fresh and young, leave the skin on. Otherwise peel and cut to size.

Ways to eat

Swedes can be eaten raw if fresh and young. Older swedes can be boiled, mashed, stir fried, roasted, puréed, steamed, baked, glazed or pickled. They absorb flavours well so add to soups, stews or braises. Flavourings such as nutmeg, parsley, coriander and black pepper go well with swedes.

Cooking Methods

Bake, boil, braise, microwave, steam, stew.


Nutrition Information
Serving size:  ½ cup, chopped - 75g
per serving 
% Daily
intake per
per 100g 
Energy (kJ/Cal) 77/18 0.9% 103/25  
Protein (g) 0.7 1% 0.9  
Fat, total (g) 0.08 0.1% 0.1  
 - saturated (g) trace 0%  trace  
Carbohydrate (g) 2.8 1% 3.7  
 - sugars (g) 2.6 3% 3.5  
Dietary fibre (g) 2.1 7% 2.8 Contains dietary fibre
Sodium (mg) 9 0.4% 12  
Vitamin C (mg) 12.8 32% RDI* 17.0 A good source of vitamin C
Niacin (mg) 0.75 8% RDI* 1  
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.09 6% RDI* 0.12  
Folate (µg) 11.3 6% RDI* 15  
Iron (mg) 0.3 3% RDI* 0.4  

Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ
Your daily Intakes may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs.
*Recommended Dietary Intake (Average Adult)

Source: The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 10th Edition, Plant & Food Research - 2014

Swedes are a good source of vitamin C and contain dietary fibre. Swedes are members of the brassica family therefore contain similar phytonutrients particularly the glucosinolates and phytosterols.


Place next to turnips. Offer samples of raw swede. Pre-pack with carrot and parsnip as a soup mix. Customers may not know how to use swedes, so use the QR code on labels.

Store at 0ºC with a relative humidity of 90-100%.

Purchase swedes with the New Zealand GAP logo.


Swede with lemon
Swede with lemon

This slightly sweet lemon sauce can be used on other vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, kūmara, turnips, pumpkin or yams. View Recipe

Quick minestrone soup
Quick minestrone soup

Using sprouted lentils in soups instead of traditional dried beans, lentils or split peas speeds up preparation time. View Recipe

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