The swede, (yellow) turnip, swedish turnip or rutabaga (Brassica napobrassica, or Brassica napus var. napobrassica) is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. Its leaves can also be eaten as a leaf vegetable.
In North-East England, turnips and swedes/rutabagas are colloquially called "snadgies". They should not be confused with the large beet known as a mangelwurzel.
Its common name in Sweden is "kålrot" (cabbage root). In Norway it is also called "kålrot", but often also "kålrabi" (which in Sweden and Denmark means kohlrabi). In Finnish, it is called "lanttu", which is derived from the Swedish "planta", meaning plant or seedling. (Finland was for many centuries part of the Swedish realm, and rutabaga has to be planted as seedlings due to the short Scandinavian growing season.)
Rutabaga was an important nutritional source for many Finno-Ugric tribes before the introduction of potatoes. Some claim the vegetable is native to Sweden, but others think it was introduced to Sweden, possibly from Finland or Siberia, in the early 17th century. From Sweden, it reached Scotland, and from there it spread to the rest of Great Britain and to North America.
In continental Europe, it acquired a bad reputation during World War I, when it became a food of last resort. In the German Steckrübenwinter (rutabaga winter) of 1916–17, large parts of the population were kept alive on a diet consisting of rutabagas and little else, after grain and potato crop failures had combined with wartime effects. After the war, most people were so tired of rutabagas that they came to be considered "famine food," and they have retained this reputation to the present day. As a consequence, they are rarely planted in Germany.
Swedes and Norwegians cook rutabagas with potatoes and carrots and mash them with butter and cream or milk to create a puree called "rotmos" (root mash) and "kålrot/kålrabistappe" in Swedish and Norwegian, respectively. Onion is occasionally added. In Norway, kålrabistappe is an obligatory accompaniment to many festive dishes, including smalahove, pinnekjøtt and salted herring.
In Scotland, rutabagas and potatoes are boiled and mashed separately to produce "tatties and neeps" ("tatties" being the Scots word for potatoes), traditionally served with the Scottish national dish of haggis as the main course of a Burns supper. Neeps may also be mashed with potatoes to make clapshot. Regional variations include the addition of onions to clapshot in Orkney. Neeps are also extensively used in soups and stews. In Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, swedes are often mashed together with carrots as part of the traditional Sunday roast.
In Canada rutabagas are used as filler in foods such as mincemeat and Christmas cake, or as a side dish with Sunday dinner in Atlantic Canada. In the US, rutabagas are mostly eaten as part of stews or casseroles, are served mashed with carrots, or baked in a pasty.
Rutabaga is repeated over and over again in the chorus of "Call Any Vegetable", a famous song celebrating vegetables by Frank Zappa
Excessive consumption of rutabaga can be associated with hypothyroidism. Rutabaga and other cyanoglucoside-containing foods (including cassava, maize, bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes, and lima beans) release cyanide, which is subsequently detoxified into thiocyanate. Thiocyanate inhibits thyroid iodide transport and, at high doses, competes with iodide in the organification process within thyroid tissue. Goitres may develop when there is a dietary imbalance of thiocyanate-containing food in excess of iodine consumption.
The Swede was also used in the 2008 English GCSE exam. Used from an article from The Guardian.
"Rutabaga" is also the name of a specific protein-coding gene in fruit flies that controls several functions, including memory, behavior, and cell communication.