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How to Cook Neeps

 Neeps are a hardy Scottish crop used in soups and stews but also served mashed. Find out how to cook neeps for the best results.

Mashed neeps in an orange cast iron pot

HOW TO COOK NEEPS?

As it's getting close to Burns Night, the annual celebration of our Scottish bard Robert Burns, I thought it might be a good time to talk about how to cook neeps.

Neeps are traditionally served at a Burns Supper or in homes on Burns Night, so I'll be concentrating on mashed neeps and the best way to cook them.

Do it right and they'll be delicious and really compliment your meal.


Scottish turnip

WHAT ARE NEEPS?

Let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start. 

Don't worry, I won't break into song, I wouldn't inflict that on you.

The first question you may have is what are neeps?

Neeps is the Scottish name for our hardy root vegetable also called turnip.


ISN'T THAT A SWEDE?

You may know this as a swede. 

In Scotland it is called a turnip but in England they call it a swede. 

There are many arguments about this, but as this is all about cooking neeps, lets call it a turnip.

They both come from the name Swedish Turnip. As this winter vegetable originally comes from Sweden.

Scots chose to shorten that to Turnip and the English abbreviated it to Swede, but it tastes just the same whatever you call it.


SO WHAT'S A TUMSHIE?

Tumshie is another Scots name for turnips or neeps.

Yes we have two names for it. 

Neeps is the Scots name for it and Tumshie is more of fond nickname.

We also use tumshie as an insulting term for someone we see as a fool. 

The full insult would be turnip heid (head), but we often use our nickname for turnip as the insult.

Yer a big tumshie!


Frozen turnip in a bag


FROZEN OR FRESH TURNIP?


Before we start, aye shame on you Morrisons, that's diced turnip not swede. I think we can safely say your product line is developed in England.

Good, now that's out of the way let's talk about fresh verses frozen turnip.

To be honest you can get a good result with both, but you have to be very careful with the frozen turnip.

This type of frozen turnip is diced very small so it can end up quite watery. You have to be careful not to over cook it and it drain it really well.

Once it is cooked, leave it to steam dry in the colander for a couple of minutes before mashing it.

If I was cooking it from fresh, I would chop it into bigger pieces.


IS THERE ANY BENEFIT TO BUYING FROZEN TURNIP?


Don't let me put you off buying frozen turnip.

It does have it's good points too.

  1. You don't have to peel and chop the hairy beast! Turnip is hellish to peel and chop.
  2. It's quick. It takes a while to peel and chop the beast, so it's great if it's done for you.
  3. It's convenient. You have it on hand to add to a meal.
  4. You can use just a little or a lot and any you don't use just goes back into the freezer.
  5. It's prepared and frozen quickly, so it's full of nutrients.

Chopped turnip


THE BEST WAY TO COOK TURNIP (NEEPS)


FRESH TURNIP

Here are my tips, scroll down for the recipe card.

  1. Carefully peel the turnip with a sharp knife. Make sure it's on a level surface that won't move about and be careful of your fingers. It's a tough beast to cut.
  2. Cut into thick slices about 2 cm (just a bit less than an inch) wide, once again being careful.
  3. Once you've cut into slices, cut it into 2 cm strips, then into cubes.
  4. In a large pot cover the chopped turnip in just enough salted water to cover it. 
  5. Bring it to the boil, with the lid on, then remove the lid and simmer for roughly 15 minutes until tender. It may need a few minutes more.
  6. Do not overcook it. 
  7. Drain well.

FROZEN TURNIP

Frozen turnip (it may say swede on the bag) will have instructions on the bag, but here are my tips.

  1. In a large pot, cover the frozen turnip in enough water to just cover it and salt the water.
  2. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. If it is a small dice, it could be cooked in as little as 4 minutes after the water has come to the boil. If it's chopped a bit bigger, it will need longer.
  4. The secret to good neeps from frozen turnip is to drain them really well.
  5. Pour the cooked turnip into a colander and shake really well to remove as much water as possible.
  6. Leave it to steam dry in the colander for a couple of minutes before pouring back into the dry pan.

Mashed neeps in a pot

HOW TO DRESS NEEPS


Neeps are best dressed simply.

The flavour of the neeps should shine through. You want enhance the flavour of the neeps with a little seasoning.

You don't want to detract from the flavour, so no herbs or spices.

Once cooked and well drained, neeps should be mashed until smooth with butter (vegan or dairy depending on your diet), salt and pepper and nothing more.

Do not add milk or any liquid!

It's common to add milk to potatoes when you are mashing them but turnips aren't starchy like potatoes and more watery when cooked, even when they are well drained, so you do not want to add any liquid.

And yes turnip turns from a pale creamy colour to a deep orange while they cook.


Haggis with Neeps & Tatties

HOW TO SERVE NEEPS


Mashed neeps are traditionally served with haggis and tatties (potatoes) in Scotland.

I like to serve them up using an ice cream scoop.

It's the way my mum serves her neeps and it gives you are really neat finish.

Of course you can just dollop them in a pile with a spoon, but doesn't this look more elegant?

You can also use a cooking ring to stack the haggis, neeps and tatties in a restaurant style serving.

Once you have plated your haggis, neeps and tatties, serve with a creamy whisky sauce.




HOW LONG WILL NEEPS KEEP?


Neeps are best cooked, mashed, seasoned and served on the day you need them.

You can chill leftover neeps in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days and reheat in the microwave, but cooking it fresh is the best option.



CAN NEEPS BE FROZEN?


I wouldn't freeze neeps once they are mashed and seasoned.

If you want to freeze them, I would suggest peeling and chopping the neeps, then freezing them before cooking them.

They can then be cooked from frozen.


MORE RECIPES WITH TURNIP



For more Scottish recipes check out Scottish Recipes for Vegetarians and Vegans.


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How to Cook Neeps

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mashed neeps, neeps, how to cook neeps, mashed turnip, mashed swede, Scottish neeps, Scottish vegetables
Dinner
Scottish
Yield: 4-6
Author: Jacqueline Meldrum
How to cook neeps

How to cook neeps

The best way to cook neeps
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 15 MinTotal time: 30 Min

Ingredients

  • 1 large neep (Turnip in Scotland, Swede in England)
  • 3 tbsp butter (I use vegan, but you can use your regular butter)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Fresh Neep
  1. Carefully peel the turnip with a sharp knife. Make sure it's on a level surface that won't move about and be careful of your fingers. It's a tough beast to cut. 
  2. Cut into thick slices about 2 cm wide, once again being careful. Once you've cut into slices, cut it into 2cm strips, then into cubes. 
  3. In a large pot cover the chopped turnip in enough salted water to just cover it. Bring it to the boil, with the lid on, then remove the lid and simmer for roughly 15 minutes until tender. 
  4. It may need a few minutes more.  Do not overcook it. 
  5. Drain well and return to the pot.
  6. Mash until smooth with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Taste to check the seasoning is right or if you need to add a bit more. 
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Frozen Neeps
  1. In a large pot, cover the frozen turnip in enough water to just cover it and salt the water. 
  2. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. If it is a small dice, it could be cooked in as little as 4 minutes after the water has come to the boil. If it's chopped a bit bigger, it will need longer. 
  3. The secret to good neeps from frozen turnip is to drain them well. 
  4. Pour the cooked turnip into a colander and shake really well to remove as much water as possible. Leave it to steam dry in the colander for a couple of minutes before pouring back into the dry pan. 
  5. Mash until smooth with the butter and season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Taste to check the seasoning is right or if you need to add a bit more. 
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:

Neeps are also called turnip in Scotland and Swede in England.


Neeps are best cooked, mashed, seasoned and served on the day you need them. You can chill leftover neeps in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days and reheat in the microwave, but cooking it fresh is the best option.


I wouldn't freeze neeps once they are mashed and seasoned. If you want to freeze them, I would suggest peeling and chopping the neeps, then freezing them before cooking them.


Mashed neeps are good served with mashed tatties (potatoes) and haggis (veggie) but also good as a side vegetable with hearty stews and other winter meals.

Calories

76.54

Fat (grams)

8.64

Sat. Fat (grams)

5.47

Carbs (grams)

0.05

Fiber (grams)

0.02

Net carbs

0.03

Sugar (grams)

0.01

Protein (grams)

0.10

Sodium (milligrams)

142.35

Cholesterol (grams)

22.90

22 comments

  1. Yummy! This looks so delicious and tasty! Can't wait to give this a try!

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  2. I wasn't familiar with the name neeps, but turnips I do know! Wow, this is fo informative. I love the detail you have provided and I am going to try this out. I love that it just the veggie, butter, salt and pepper - too easy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes simple is the best for flavour. It's all about cooking them right.

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  3. I went to scotland last year - so excited to find this recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you had a good time. It's a beautiful country.

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  4. Ah, my beloved rutabaga! What you call a turnip, I call rutabaga! Turnips here in the US are very small, about palm sized and skins are purplish. Anyway, I suspect my gramma picked up the American way after she came west to Canada and married a French Canadian. As a baby, I think this was one of my first foods. I was the only one of my siblings who liked them...just made more for me to share with my grandparents. My mom always put milk in them and I said NOPE! I'm going to gramma's house. The first holiday dinner I served for my new hubby at age 18 included rutabaga! We eat it every year now for 49 years and my kids leave the room, they hate them so much! More for me!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved your whole story about them and yes I've heard them called that too. I do love them. Still trying to convince my son, but he will eat a little.

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  5. This is just the kind of comforting side dish I could do with in my life right about now. Very hearty and warming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Neeps are definitely a perfect winter side dish

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  6. I never knew you called them neeps in Scotland. A much nicer name than swede. I like them with lots of black pepper. Jill

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it is a good name. I like calling them tummies too.

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  7. Thanks for these brilliantly clear instructions! We got a HUGE turnip/swede in our veg box last week. Half has been roasted but I'm definitely going to mash the other half. Yum!

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  8. I had to look up what a neep was! After learning it was a turnip (I'm in the US) I was super excited to make this recipe. It's simple and really let's the flavor of the turnip shine!

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  9. I had no idea turnips were called Neeps! Love this method of cooking and mashing - a delicious way to enjoy them!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Such an informative post about Neeps!! I didn't know they are just our good old turnips :) I would love to dig in with some Haggis sometime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha yes it makes them sound more exciting than they are even though they are tasty.

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  11. WOW! Great to know that turnip, has another lovely name! Thanks for sharing how to cook both fresh and frozen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For such a simple and hardy vegetable it has many names

      Delete

I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x