Parsnips – Interesting Facts

Parsnips used to be a diet staple and could be found in most kitchens as a nutritious and filling food. With the triumph of the potato in the 18th century, the parsnip faded into the background before being eclipsed completely by the popular spud. Now the parsnip is back and we can’t get enough of its delicate sweetness and earthy, nutty flavour. As a hearty roast vegetable, gratinated, in a salad or made into parsnip soup, the parsnip enriches winter cuisine.

Food Facts Food Facts

Parsnips

Class

pastinaca

Calories

63 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

12 g carbohydrates, 2.1 g fibre, 0.4 g fat, 1.6 g protein per 100 g

Season

October to approx. March

Storage

store dry in the fridge

Shelf life

up to two weeks

Parsnips – The Winter Root

Parsnip season starts in autumn, making the root a classic winter vegetable. Harvested after the first frost, parsnips should have a mild flavour. The root vegetable is cold hardy and can be harvested throughout winter. At 0°C parsnips keep until roughly March and can also be stored during the colder months once harvested. While only a few years ago parsnips were viewed as an exotic addition to the vegetable department, they are now a permanent staple in most supermarkets.

The parsnip tastes best freshly harvested, when it is crunchy and its flavours really come into their own. You can determine whether or not a parsnip is fresh by its peel, which should be firm and taut. It should also be easy to snap in two. Smaller, thinner parsnips are tastier than their bigger counterparts as they tend to have a woody consistency. At home parsnips are best stored in the fridge, unwashed and unpackaged, where they can keep for up to a week.

Parsnips – Preparation

There are countless parsnip recipes. The root vegetable can be prepared similarly to carrots. Parsnips should be peeled and the ends removed, before being either grated, diced or cut into strips or discs. They taste good boiled in salted water, fried or roasted, but can also be used raw in a green salad or raw vegetable salad with carrots and apples. Careful preparation preserves the valuable nutrients like potassium and vitamin C.

The most popular parsnip recipes include bakes, soups and stews. Cut into thick strips, with spicy seasoning and deep fried, they also serve as a good alternative to traditional chips. Roasted with carrot and beetroot, parsnips make a good vegetable side for meat dishes. For a tasty starter try creamy parsnip soup, and add some ham or smoked salmon for a more substantial main. The “old” root has arrived in the modern kitchen – flavourful, nutritious and versatile. 

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