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I want to make a British-style pickle relish at home. I think the best recipes involve swede (rutabaga in the US), because it gives texture and flavour, but isn't overpowering. Unforunately, I can't get swedes where I live.

What would make a good substitute?

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Since I just had to look this up myself, the vegetable is known as Rutabaga in the US, and is sometimes sold under the name "Wax Turnip." –  Martha F. Mar 5 '11 at 18:35
I guess it's kind of an obvious suggestion, but... Have you tried kohlrabi? –  Shog9 Mar 6 '11 at 0:05

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I am a big fan of swedes/rutabagas. When I can't get them I use turnips, beets, daikon radishes. Carrots/parsnips add some interesting flavor as well.

A couple other vegetables that are crunchy and nice-flavored but more exotic are celery root or jicama.

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Ooh, jicama, how did I forget that? +1 just for that! –  daniel Mar 7 '11 at 3:49

turnips will lend the necessary flavor but can be added WITH:

Cauliflower or slightly cooked potatoes such as Petite Potatoes (grade C which you can find at a farmer's market but pack some taste...yum), Yukon Gold, New Potatoes, Red Potatoes or Fingerling Potatoes.

I know some people who have substituted rutabagas in recipes with the stronger portions of a green cabbage (do NOT use the core). I came from a poor community and you learn what you can use and not. Things that grow in your garden like: the aforementioned vegetables and brussels sprouts, cooked parsnips, carrots, corn, peas, radishes, zucchini, cooked butternut squash, toasted or grilled eggplant or cheaper items at the store like jicama, cabbage and celery. Don't forget that some raw slivered (not already roasted) almonds, sunflower seeds or cashews will give you some more crunch too. I know that this is an old post but some people will find this in a search for the same issues like I found in my Google search... so Good Luck to all :)

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Anything crunchy should work fine. Radish, daikon (yes I know it's a kind of radish), carrot, fennel...

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Wouldn't radishes give too much of the astringent/hars flavour to the finished pickle relish? I'll give carrots a try next time. –  Carmi Mar 5 '11 at 19:27
Pickled radishes are extremely mellow in comparison to their raw form. Daikon particularly. –  daniel Mar 5 '11 at 19:32
@Carmi, aren't carrots already in the recipe? I'm assuming that by "British-style pickle" you mean something similar to Branston pickle, and that does contain carrots in addition to swede. –  Peter Taylor Mar 6 '11 at 9:14
@Peter Taylor: The recipe I have has onions, swedes, apples raisins and vinegar, as well as sugar and the spices. Branston pickle is what I'm aiming for. As I said above, I'll be giving carrots a try next time I make a batch. –  Carmi Mar 6 '11 at 11:08

water chestnuts might do the trick for crunch.

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Could you use a turnip (or several)? My understanding is that this is the "closest" vegetable to the rutabaga.

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