This creamy-white root vegetable is related to carrots and parsley and has been cultivated for human consumption since at least Roman times. You may associate Parsnips with winter roasts and the Christmas table, but they can be grown year-round.
Parsnips taste best after the first frost, as some of the starch they contain is converted to sugar in cold weather. They do, however, become sweeter when cooked, so taste great any time of year!
- Fun facts about parsnips
- Parsnips Nutrition
- How to store parsnips
- Freezing parsnips
- How to prepare parsnips
- What can you make with parsnips?
- Before the cultivation of sugar beets in the UK, parsnips were used in jams and cakes as a sweetener.
- Unassuming they might be, but parsnips were considered an aphrodisiac in the 1600s and are listed alongside oysters in naughty books from that period.
- Parsnips are easily fermented and were therefore once a popular choice for making wine and beer. You can still find a lot of traditional recipes today.
Parsnips are low in calories and rich in fibre. They’re a great source of potassium and antioxidants, and contain good levels of some B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K.
The potential health benefits of parsnips include anticancer, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Parsnips need to be stored in a cold, dark place. They are best kept in the coldest part of the fridge, where they will keep for two weeks or more. As they do best in humid conditions, you can wrap them in a paper towel and keep them in a container or a bag inside the fridge. Make sure you remove any parsnip greens and allow washed parsnips to thoroughly dry before storing.
Store parsnips away from apples and pears, as those can emit a gas that makes parsnips taste bitter.
Parsnips can be easily frozen for later use. To freeze, peel the parsnips and slice them into ½ inch cubes or slices. You may need to remove the fibrous core if it’s too hard. Before freezing, blanche the parsnips in boiling water for three minutes, then chill in ice water. Drain and let dry completely before freezing, to avoid freezer burn. Freeze in containers or bags, making sure to leave at least ½ inch of space at the top. If freezing in bags, remove as much air as possible before freezing.
Wash and peel parsnips before using, as parsnip skins contain a group of natural toxins called furocoumarins that can cause stomach-ache if eaten in large quantities.
Similarly to carrots, parsnips have a fibrous core that can sometimes be tough and woody. If that is the case, you can remove it.
Although they can be eaten raw, parsnips are more often cooked. Cooking parsnips in the oven Is probably the most popular way to prepare them, but this extremely versatile vegetable can be pickled, boiled, steamed, mashed, roasted, baked, fried or braised. Parsnips are great in soups, curries, stir-fries, stews, salads, pies and even desserts. They go well with other root vegetables, greens, and, perhaps surprisingly, apples.
- Parsnips can be a good substitute for potatoes, as they are lower in calories and higher in fibre. Mashed parsnips work well, as does using them in hash or gratin dishes.
- Try a parsnip cake instead of carrot cake. There are plenty of good recipes around, though existing carrot cake recipes will work. You can even reduce the amount of sugar you use, as parsnips are sweeter than carrots.
- Use raw parsnips in salad. They are great shaved or grated, like carrots.
- Honey roasted parsnips are also lovely in warm salads, like this parsnip and kale salad.
See our full list of parsnip recipes for more inspiration on how to use this wonderful veg.