Give swedes a chance

Swedes for sale at a roadside stall in Stirling, South Otago. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Swedes for sale at a roadside stall in Stirling, South Otago. Photo: Gerard O'Brien/ODT
The swede - aka Tuwīti tānapu - is often overlooked by Kiwi supermarket shoppers but right now these hardy and nutritious root vegetables are at their very best, says second-generation swede grower Jeremy Mott.

Knowing this, Jeremy gets disappointed when sees them piled up at the supermarket, well past their prime.

"They don't move enough so they sit there looking a bit shrivelled up. You bang your head against the wall and go 'why the hell does it look like that?' because you can buy them every day fresh," he said.

Swedes, which are high in essential minerals and contain Vitamin A and Vitamin C, are currently selling in New Zealand for around $5 or $6 a kilo, or $3 each.

Just before Christmas each year, Mott's Premium Produce - Jeremy's family business - plants 15 hectares worth of them to be harvested between March and October.

Once the "nice" swedes are hand-picked from in the paddocks - those "no bigger than what you can fit in two hands with your fingers touching" - he says the cattle and ewes are more than happy to finish off what's left over.

"They run and jump… they're like lollies for the cattle."

Swedes, which thrive in the frosty temperatures of Manawatū-Whanganui and Southland, are known for their sweetness which you can even smell in the paddocks, Jeremy says.

His family like to use them as a sweeter alternative to potato in a swede bake or swede rosti and to "sweeten up" potato dishes.

The humble swede also does a good job at "filling out" stews, Jeremy says, as they add a bit of sweetness and also easily take on other flavours.

When shopping for fresh swedes, firm skin is what you're looking for, he says.

Once you get them home, they should keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, despite becoming "a bit wrinkly".