Swede vs Turnip? Diary of a Rocket Gardener

OK, so a friend told me the other day that “a swede and turnip are exactly the same thing, it’s just that the Cornish call a turnip a swede. But they’re both just turnips”. I got very confused. You probably did too, just reading that line!

I’ve lived in Cornwall nearly all my life, and I definitely thought that a swede was a swede and a turnip was a turnip, and that they were two different vegetables. I needed to clear this up in my mind, because I don’t like being confused about my veg. I have to say, it was quite funny googling it all because the explanations are SO different on different sites.

As far as I can glean, the following is true:

  • Swedes and Turnips do come from the same family.
  • Swede is a Swedish turnip, hence the name “swede”. They are bigger, tougher skinned, yellow fleshed and much hardier than a turnip.
  • Turnips are the smaller ones, with smoother skin and white flesh. They are faster growing.
  • In Cornwall some people do indeed refer to swedes as turnips. It’s swede that goes into a Cornish Pasty.
  • In Scotland, a turnip might be called a swede or a turnip, and a swede might be called a neep. But I got totally lost on this one, so may have to bow down to the wisdom of the Scottish Rocket Gardeners out there!!

I’m not sure I’m any the wiser, but I’m sticking to turnips are the little white fleshed ones, and swedes are the big yellow fleshed ones.

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