Parsnips are sweet root vegetables, like carrots, and can be used in soups, gratins, or even cakes (like carrot cake). Try them roasted or make parsnip chips or fries paired with butter and herbs.
Look for smooth, small to medium sized roots after the first frost. The cold brings out the sweetness of the root. Parsnips are usually sold without their greens. Avoid roots that may have begun to sprout. Sprouts result in woody vegetables.
Parsnips are best stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge with little moisture. They will keep two to four weeks when stored properly.
There are not many varieties of parsnips sold at the market. These roots are typically long and look like white carrots with wider tops. Home growers can try All American or Hollow Crown.
Parsnips originated as a stable vegetable and were considered “peasant food” long ago. However, these vegetables have grown in popularity throughout Europe and the United States. The sweet vegetable has high sugar content and has been known to be used as a sweetener or even made into parsnip wine.
While they can be easy to pass up, parsnips actually have a wonderfully pleasant flavor. They pair well with many other root vegetables. Additionally, herbs like thyme, sage, and parsley complement parsnips in stews, purees, and sauces. Parsnips do not have to be peeled before using (the skin has extra fiber and nutrients!) but be sure to scrub them well.