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Easy to grow and plentiful, organic parsnips are a winter staple vegetable. Delicious roasted, steamed, made into a spicy soup, or even into a delicious, but potent, country wine!
+++ How to Grow Organic Parsnips +++
Directly in the ground from March to May. For a harvest in the Autumn. Parsnips are slow to germinate so sow in a very straight line to make weeding easy.
Harvest: From October as a baby vegetable, in November for indoor storage or leave in the ground to harvest when needed until springtime. Dig the roots up carefully with a garden fork.
Storage: Parsnips may be stored in slightly damp sand when harvested in November. This ensures a supply even through hard frosts when the ground is hard. Store at temperatures between 0°C (32°F) and 2°C (35°F).
Parsnips are said to taste better following a frost, but I find them very tasty before the winter really sets in too.
I think parsnips are terribly underated as a vegetable. They are extremely versatile, have a beautiful sweet fragrant flavour, and are generally cheap.
Parsnips are in season in the UK in the winter months ideally November through til about March. They are frost hardy and a great winter staple.
I love them roasted alongside potatoes, they make the tastiest chips. Espcially if you caramelise the outside. You can use them for a mash and mix them with carrots. They can go in allsorts of bakes and curries.
Last but by no means least my favourtie way is a CAKE. Yes parsnip cake, alongside carrot, courgette and beetroot is one of the most favourite vegetable cakes. It is of course sweet, and anyone who tastes it and doesn't know the secret ingredient will be plesantly surprised to find out what exactly it is. Find any carrot cake recipe and replace the carrot with parsnip. Go on try it.
Shaped like a carrot, grows like a carrot.... sold next to the carrots, but a carrot it is not!
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of a parsnip, they basically look like a white carrot. Just like baby carrots, you can get baby parsnips.
Thats where the comparison ends for me, I dont think they taste like carrots, whoever said that has either tasted some weird parsnips or some weird carrots.
What I really like about parsnips, is that they have a sweet taste to them. Not a sugar like sweetness, but a more earthy sweetness.
My ideal with parsnips is to buy them loose, that way you can pick how many you want, and most importantly which ones you want. I always try to buy ones of similar size and thickness. This makes things a whole lot easier when cooking them, as they will cook more evenly. Nothing (in my ((cook)) book) is worse than one mouthful which is overcooked and burnt and then the next being undercooked and a bit raw tasting!
Now you can peel them, if your little heart desires, or just give them a jolly good scrub. The peel is not going to kill you, and if running them under hot water hasnt got rid of any of the nasties which might be lurking on them, peeling a thin layer off them sure as hell wont either!
So I top and tail mine, and slice length ways, and then lengthways again. I should add in here that I normally buy the short and stout ones, so if you buy thinner, you can just halve them the once. One I've got them into quarters, I lay them on one straight side, and cut away the core.
This part is defined being slightly paler in colour and with a more starchy texture.
You dont have to do this, it wont kill you, but it can give a slightly off putting nutty taste, which to me doesnt compliment the sweet tones, so I prefer to chop mine out. You wont lose much, roughly half a centimetre if not less.
I then put mine into a saucepan with cold water and parboil for 5 minutes. They dont take nearly as long as potatoes and carrots, so be warned if you are parboiling these together and add in the parsnip later.
When strained I then add them to a roasting tray, heated with some oil in, toss them about and roast off for 30-35 minutes.
Eat hot, with anything you like. I really enjoy mine with chicken, lamb and fish pie believe it or not.
You can do more besides, but this is how I like mine.
Well as you may or may not already know my mother and I are attempting to grow these in our back garden. We are using those big Ikea garden bags which open out into a large deep bucket type object, we then filled the bag with compost and soil. These bags are great for other root vegetables too because of their depth and draining capabilities. They are growing too There are moderate sized parsnip leaves poking out of the bag/tub bucket thing. Though we planted them the same time as our potatoes which are now ready for harvesting, they do seem to take a good bit more time to grow, they will probably be ready for consumption in the late autumn or very earlier winter providing the frost dosent get them.
I think parsnips and carrots are the only vegetables on the planet my brother eats so on Sunday dinners we steam carrots and parsnips and then mash them together with a bit of salt and pepper. Alternatively we get a big roasting dish together and chop carrots parsnips, turnip and baby potatoes with cherry tomatoes and Garlic and just shove them all in evenly, we then douse the veg with olive oil and salt and pepper. We shove this mixture in the oven and out come really nice crunchy sweet parsnip and other vegetables. You could try just doing the parsnip on its own too but I just find this a great way of keeping the sweet crunchiness of the vegetable. Parsnip soup is pretty easy to make too, there are quite a few things you can do with this one.
Though I have to say they are a nightmare to chop up at times when they are large and a very hard vegetable when raw, so we don't buy them as much as we used to since other vegetables are so widely obtainable.
Parsnips are a great root vegetable with a nutty taste which I have been eating for years. One strange but delicious way I've found of eating them is roasted, these are delicious and with a roast dinner they are even better, they're also good with roast carrots and peppers. Anyway not many people know much about them so here's some facts:
* They're available all year round but peak in Autumn
~ They keep in the fridge for up to two weeks
* They can be cooked in almost any way at all
~ One of the favourite ways to eat them is boiled then mashed
* They contain iron and vitamin C
~ They contain a lot of fibre
* Frost converts the parsnips' starch to sugar which is why they taste sweet
~ The taste comes from it's skin
* They're from the same family as carrots and celery
~ The smaller the parsnip the more tender it is
* The crispier it is when bought the more taste it contains
~ Raw parsnips are used in Coleslaw
This is a great vegetable and one of my favourites.
I was first introduced to parsnips about 4 years ago. It wasn't a pleasant introduction.
My brother was a chef. My mother is not. My mother, wanting to try something different, got some parsnips, which she had heard from numerous sources were the food of cool people. She asked my brother how to best cook them. My brother, being a chef, used the word "caramelise". This is where things went wrong.
My mother, not being a chef, didn't and still doesn't really see the difference between "caramelise" and "burn the crap out of". Needless to say, I didn't try parsnips for a long while after that.
My second meeting with parsnips went a tad better. I decided to forgive it for its burnt offerings those many years ago. That and I was having my Christmas dinner cooked for me so I was quite happy to sit back and relax for a change and nibble on whatever was thrown at me. This time, the parsnips were roasted along with some sweet potato and non sweet potato and chucked lovingly at my mouth hole.
I, at first, thought it must have just been the copious amounts of wine and spirits I'd worked my way through for the last 48 hours, but it seemed I actually enjoyed a parsnip. And sweet potato for that matter. I went to bed happy that night. Mostly because I'd just ripped open a Wii, but the parsnips surely put a happy twinkle in my eye somewhere...
After this more enjoyable outing with parsnips, I got myself all excited. I was going to start eating vegetables! ME!! VEGETABLES!!! Ones that aren't made out of chocolate too!! I skipped merrily off to my local, very humble, giant Tesco store and bought myself a large bag of these babies.
The thing I now enjoy most about parsnips is peeling them. It feels very like you are sharpening a deadly weapon (at least, the way I peel it, it does) and I have many a time been tempted to run rampage with nothing but a thong and a sharpened parsnip. I held myself back. They are really easy to peel mainly because there's a total change in colour when its peeled. Unlike its family member, the carrot. That evil vegetable.
As for cooking them, like most veggies, they can be souped, roasted, flung at small, unsuspecting children and the results are great. If you are a total freak, you can also eat them raw! I prefer them roasted with some sweet potato and its evil carrot brother. Fling them in the oven all oiled up for about 30-40 minutes at around about 200 degrees (about gas mark 6) turning occasionally.
The flavour is very unique and, surprisingly, it tastes...like a parsnip. It's kind of sweet, kind of bitter. I found it goes well with a little rosemary or ginger. Parsnip and Cinnamon, as I recently found out, tastes a little like a sweaty back end. Smells great though.
As for price, that really depends on how big you like your parsnips to be. Ahem. One large one will usually be enough for one to two side servings. Though I suppose that depends on how hungry you generally are. You can usually pick up a bag of 5/6 of them for £2 at the most.
Storage wise I slap them in my fridge and they last around a week. They don't last as fantastically long as some other vegetables, so you need to get them when you want to use them.
Nutritionally speaking parsnips are full of potassium, Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate (essentially vitamin B) and Manganese (which I'm told keeps your brain in good working order)
The only down side to parsnips is that if you are ever stuck in the wild, manage to find something that looks, smells and tastes like a parsnip, it might be Poison hemlock...which is...you know...poison.
A fabby vegetable to add to your collection of foods you can feel proud to eat. Unless you get the hemlock. Then you have no need for pride.
(also on ciao)
The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a root vegetable related to the carrot, but they are much paler and have a stronger flavor.
They originated in the Mediterranean region and originally were the size of a baby carrot when fully grown, but when the Roman Empire expanded north through Europe the Romans brought the parsnip with them and they found that they grew bigger the further north they went.
They can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles, or maybe you might like to try them raw grated into a salad.
Another idea that I tried one evening when I was on a healthy kick was to roast them whole and serve with plain yoghurt or a sour dip.
I happened to like them this way but the family turned their noses up.
My kids are not too keen on them so I do add them to a stew or casserole and take them out just ten minutes before I serve up, they give the dish a more subtle flavor and because they are full of starch it helps to thicken the gravy.
Roasted parsnip is a must with a traditional Sunday lunch and I like to cook them around a joint of pork the taste is divine. It is best to steam them or microwave until they are just on the turn of softening then add to the roasting tin, if you put them in raw they overcook on the outside and are still tough in the middle.
They are rich in vitamins and minerals especially potassium and vitamin C so an excellent vegetable to eat for one of your daily five.
When buying your parsnips it is best to make sure that they are firm and dry, the larger they are the tougher they are. You do get some funny shaped ones at times but the taste is no different but of course they are harder to peel and you might get a bit more wastage.
The best time to buy them is middle to late winter because they love the frosty weather and this helps to increase their flavor.
They store well in the lower part of the fridge and can last up to two to three weeks, but if you notice them going soft or withered it is best not to use them.
Preparing them is so easy just peel them chop both ends off and cut in half length ways.
They can be bought fresh from your local supermarket or local greengrocers for a reasonable price, I paid 72p for five medium sized last week from Tesco, but of course you may want to grow your own if you are a keen gardener.
Frozen parsnip can be bought all year round but I personally prefer to have fresh.
The parsnip is a very versatile vegetable that can transform your cooking and tickle those taste buds.