Thursday, November 25, 2010

Eat yer Parsnips!

This is the perfect time of year for parsnips!  I know, I know...parsnips?  Seriously?

I never used to like parsnips...perhaps that was from being force fed the poor roots as a child.  Last year I got a Canadian Gardening issue with an article about growing parsnips and leaving them in the ground after the frost.  As the article suggested, they transformed into a different vegetable altogether. 

digging in the garden for the the last crop of the year....PARSNIPS!

My husband and I were up for an most of our gardening has consisted of trial and error guess work.  We purchased the seeds and last year we grew our first crop of parsnips.  We Planted them during the May 24th weekend and left them alone basically until after the first major frost. (ie.  after the first morning we had to scrape the car windows off.)

The result:  amazingly sweet root veggies!  The parsnip has a mild nutty flavour, but they do lack in colour on the plate.  We have tried cooking the parsnip in a variety of ways.  For example, we boiled them and we roasted them.  I sauted them with oil and walnuts and garlic.  I finally decided the best way to eat a parsnip is to sneak it in.  I've hidden the savoury roots in sheppard's pie and squash soup. 

My favorite way to prepare the parsnip (by far) is in my roasted root vegetable dish.  Its made up of sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, parsnips and a coarsely chopped onion.  Toss in oil and a pinch of kosher salt.  Roast at 400 degrees F uncovered for approx 30 min.  Check them half way through and toss, adding more salt if desired.

For storage you can do one of two methods.  Freezing or root cellaring.  A root cellar is something I deperately want to try.  Given the right conditions, I'm told, a parsnip can last in a root cellar until next spring!  The idea of storing food without using any fossil fuels is something I could really become fanatical about (especially after our last hydro bill!!!)

We dig up the parsnip by digging out the area next to the roots and working our way inward.  The parsnip root gets VERY deep, so you don't want to shove your shovel through the mid-section of the vegetable.  we knock off as much soil in the garden, and then again at the outside hose.  I scrub them off in the kitchen sink with the potato scrubber and then to the cutting board!  Peel and chop the root.  I have found that the larger the shunks are, the better for year round roasting.  Last year we chopped some smaller to slip into sheppard's pie....but the result was that they hardened when cooked.  Fill a large freezer bag 1/3 full.  Then flatten out and freeze.  You can add more later on, once the new ones are frozen too....but this method allows for freezer separation....instead of one massive clump of frozen parsnip. 


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