Turnips or swedes?

For years I wondered what is the difference between turnips and swedes or whether there was a difference at all. Well, they’re actually very different AND very similar!

Swedes are originally from Sweden (shocking!) and traditionally turnips were eaten here in Wales rather than swedes but suddenly this changed in the 18th century.

Turnips grow rapidly and are ready in about 10 weeks but are considerably smaller than swedes. Turnips are usually white and round, have soft roots and need very fertile soil to grow successfully.

Swedes are slow growing compared to turnips but stay fresh for a long time, are much larger and usually have a yellow / orange colour. Swedes can grow in most soils so it does not need to be highly fertile to grow well.

So what’s the real difference?

Swedes are resistant to cold and icy weather, therefore they are well-preserved in the land during the winter but turnips tend to split with hard frost and are prone to rotting.

That’s why we now grow more swedes here in Wales rather than turnips. This is also true for most of Northern Europe. In southern Europe, it is a very different story where turnips are still the favourite.

What do you prefer, turnips or swedes?