Parsnip is a root vegetable that belongs to the same family as carrots, celery, and parsley. It has a long, tapered shape and a cream-colored skin and flesh. Parsnips have a sweet, nutty, and slightly spicy flavor that becomes more pronounced after exposure to frost. Parsnips are native to Eurasia and have been cultivated since ancient times. They were used as a sweetener before sugar became widely available and were also valued for their medicinal properties.
Parsnips are rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and antioxidants. They can help improve digestion, immunity, blood pressure, and brain health. They may also have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-fungal effects. Parsnips are low in calories and can help with weight loss by increasing satiety and reducing appetite.
How to Prepare Parsnips
Parsnips can be eaten raw or cooked in various ways. To prepare parsnips, you need to wash them under cold water and scrub them with a vegetable brush. You can peel them or leave the skin on, depending on your preference. The skin contains some of the flavor and nutrients, but it may also be tough or bitter. You can also cut off the ends and remove the woody core if it is too large or fibrous.
Parsnips can be cut into slices, cubes, wedges, sticks, or any shape you like. You can also grate them or puree them for different recipes. Parsnips tend to oxidize and turn brown when exposed to air, so you may want to soak them in water with some lemon juice or vinegar to prevent discoloration.
- Related: Mary Berry Vegetable Soups
How to Cook Parsnips
Parsnips are versatile and can be cooked in many ways.
Here are some of the most common methods:
- Roasting: Roasting parsnips brings out their natural sweetness and caramelization. To roast parsnips, toss them with some oil, salt, pepper, and any herbs or spices you like. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast them in a preheated oven at 450°F (232°C) for 20 to 30 minutes, turning once halfway through, until they are browned and tender.
- Boiling: Boiling parsnips makes them soft and easy to mash or blend. To boil parsnips, cut them into even pieces and place them in a pot of salted water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the parsnips for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are fork-tender. Drain the water and return the parsnips to the pot.
- Mashing: Mashing parsnips creates a creamy and fluffy texture that can be used as a side dish or a base for other recipes. To mash parsnips, boil them as described above and then mash them with a potato masher or a fork. You can also use a food processor or a blender for a smoother consistency. Add some butter, milk, cream, cheese, or any other ingredients you like to enhance the flavor and richness of the mash.
- Frying: Frying parsnips make them crispy and golden on the outside and soft on the inside. To fry parsnips, cut them into thin slices or sticks and coat them with some flour, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like. Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the parsnips in batches for about 10 minutes per batch, turning occasionally, until they are golden and crisp. Drain the excess oil on paper towels and serve hot.
- Steaming: Steaming parsnips preserves their nutrients and flavor without adding any extra fat or calories. To steam parsnips, cut them into bite-sized pieces and place them in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid and steam the parsnips for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are tender but not mushy.
- Baking: Baking parsnips makes them soft and moist on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside. To bake parsnips, cut them into wedges or chunks and place them in a baking dish. Dot them with some butter and add some water to the dish. Sprinkle some salt, pepper, herbs, or spices over the parsnips and bake them in a preheated oven at 350°F (176°C) for 45 minutes to an hour, or until they are cooked through.
Benefits of Parsnips
Parsnips have many benefits for your health and well-being.
Here are some of them:
Beyond being versatile and delicious, parsnips provide ample nutrition.
- Excellent source of soluble fiber to support digestive health
- High in folate, manganese, and potassium
- Low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol
- Provide antioxidants like vitamin C
- Contains 6% sugar by weight, offering natural sweetness
How to Store Parsnips
Parsnips can last for a long time if stored properly. Here are some tips on how to store parsnips:
- In the fridge: You can store parsnips in the fridge for up to three weeks. Remove the tops if they are still attached and wrap the parsnips loosely in a paper towel. Place them in a plastic bag or a container with some ventilation holes and keep them in the vegetable crisper drawer of your fridge.
- In the freezer: You can freeze parsnips for up to eight months. Cut them into pieces and blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain them well and let them cool completely. Spread them on a baking sheet and freeze them until firm. Transfer them to a freezer bag or a container and label them with the date.
- In the pantry: You can store parsnips in a cool, dark, and dry place for up to six months. Make sure they are clean and dry and place them in a mesh bag or a cardboard box with some holes. Keep them away from heat sources and other fruits or vegetables that may emit ethylene gas, such as apples or pears.
Top Parsnip Recipes to Try
- How to make Mary Berry Parsnip Soup
- Mary Berry Carrot and Parsnip Soup
- Hairy Bikers Parsnip and Apple Soup
- James Martin Curried Parsnip Soup
- Delia Smith Curried Parsnip Soup