That was the firm injunction from the school dinner ladies when I was at school sixty years ago. In those days there was no choice of food for school meals, no ‘healthy option’, no salads and no chips. My memory of swedes then was of a mushy, slightly foul-tasting, over-salted vegetable that was sloshed sloppily onto our plates in a dollop that was rapidly hidden by gloopy gravy from a large jug. And my then view of the vegetable was compounded by my French relatives who were always puzzled as to why the English ate their swedes rather than giving them to their cattle…..
So, if swedes are so dreadful, why are we growing them? The reality is that swedes are a lovely vegetable if properly prepared. Just cooked and then mashed with plenty of good butter and black pepper makes an extremely tasty vegetable to put alongside your roast beef. In a vegetable soup, diced swede makes a wonderful sweet addition. In a scotch broth, again diced swede plays a star role, and, of course, the haggis would not be the same without its ‘neeps and tatties’.
So that’s why we have planted a big patch of swedes in one of our fields this week to go into our veg boxes this winter. And if we don’t eat them all, I am sure that our cattle or sheep will help us out!