While the potato has become an everyday ingredient in diets around the world, parsnips have largely fallen to the sidelines. This is a pity, as parsnips are just as delicious and in many ways healthier than their more popular cousin. Check out below for all you need to know about parsnips, as well as tips and tricks on how to eat them.
- ...are heart-healthy. Those with high blood pressure should consider integrating parsnips into their diet more frequently. With around 523 milligrams per 100 gram serving, these vegetables are particularly rich in potassium, a mineral which helps support good circulation in the body.
- ...stimulate digestion. Essential oils help calm the stomach and can stimulate digestion.
- ...are great for children. Parsnips’ slightly sweet flavor makes them particularly palatable to younger children and a great foundation for homemade baby foods.
- ...contain pectin. One of the soluble fibers parsnips contain is pectin, which satiates appetites and can help promote digestion.
- ...can strengthen your nervous system. Parsnips have 26 milligrams of magnesium per 100 gram serving, which can help lead to well-functioning nervous and muscular systems.
- ...can help you lose weight. Although parsnips owe their slightly sweet taste to a relatively high sugar content, parsnips tend to be low in calories and also score points with plenty of naturally detoxifying potassium.
What You Should Know About Parsnips
Botanists consider parsnips to be a cross between carrots and parsley. Parsnips have a slightly spicy, and unique taste and can be used as a substitute in many recipes that call for carrots or potatoes.
Wild parsnips originate from Europe and are still cultivated in many European countries today, as well as in the U.S.
Parsnips are an autumn and winter vegetable, available from October to mid-March.
Parsnips taste slightly sweet, spicy and pleasantly nutty.
How Healthy Are Parsnips?
Parsnips were considered a staple ingredient in earlier times. The root vegetable contains a relatively high amount of carbohydrates and fiber (sugar, starch and the swelling agent pectin) and therefore can satiate a ravenous appetite. The essential oils which give parsnip their trademark flavor also have a slightly antibacterial effect. With around 18 mg per 100 g, parsnips are also rich in vitamin C, as well as B vitamins and minerals including calcium and phosphorus.
|Parsnip Nutritional Info (100 g)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
The most important thing to remember when it comes to buying parsnips is, the smaller the better! Small parsnips are particularly tender, whereas very large ones generally become fibrous and woody when cooked. Pay particular attention to the skin when shopping for parsnips; dull and wrinkled skin generally indicates loss of taste and nutritional value. Leaves are another great indicator of freshness; the greener the better. Parsnips with yellowish, flabby leaves,are better left alone.
Parsnips are best stored in the refrigerator, unwashed and without packaging. Put a slightly damp kitchen towel around your parsnips to ensure the parsnips don’t dry out. And if you’re storing them for longer then a few days, make sure to check often to ensure the parsnips haven’t gotten moldy. If they have, immediately throw them away to ensure they don’t infect your other vegetables.
To freeze parsnips, wash, clean and peel them as described below, chop them as desired and then blanch them for 1-2 minutes in plenty of boiling salted water. Then drain well in a sieve and place in freezer bags or tins. Shelf life: about 1 year.
Preparing parsnips is much like preparing carrots; simply wash with warm water, then use a peeler to remove the hard outer skin.
What To Make With Parsnips
Basically everything that can be done with potatoes and carrots can always be done with parsnips: puree, soup, casserole, gratin, stew and even "fries". The parsnip can be used both in hearty home cooking and in fine cuisine. It can spice up a creamy seafood soup, be thrown into stews, or even makes a delicious mashed potatoes substitute. Parsnip is also delicious raw in salads.