Parsnip

Parsnip

1) Background
Although never being a favourite in North America, parsnips were introduced there by early settlers in early 1600s. Instead of being used as regular vegetable, parsnips were widely used for the development of sugar. This was the case until 19th century, when the sugar beet began to emerge as a source of sugar

2) Nutritional value
Nutritional value of parsnips is truly great. They are good source of vitamin C, which is good for your immune system. Parsnips also provide some vitamin E, potassium, zinc, iron and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Parsnips are a great source of fibre. A 9" parsnip may contain up to 6.4 grams of fibre, which is more than in many ready-to-eat cereals. Parsnips have a characteristic sweet taste. About half of carbohydrate in parsnips is starch and the remaining part is sugar. Carbohydrates are vital for the healthy functioning of one’s body, particularly such organs as brain, nervous system and kidneys. At the same time parsnips are low in calories, especially if you are cooked correctly.

3) How to choose
Parsnips are year-round vegetables, but they are best in autumn and winter. Farmers tend to plant the seeds in spring and then it takes 3-4 months for the crop to mature. Parsnips can left in ground for many months. Indeed, some farmers leave the crop in the ground for the entire winter, because the first frost of the year converts the parsnip's starch to sugar and gives it a pleasantly sweet flavour. When choosing parsnips to buy, pick the ones that are small or medium in size and without any soft or dark spots. Those of you, who consider obtaining wild parsnip, should remember that water hemlock looks very much like wild parsnip, but it is poisonous.

4) How to cook
One of the great ways to cook parsnips is roasting them with honey. To make 6 servings, you will need 12 small parsnips (peeled and cut in half or quarter lengthways), 50 grams of butter, 60 ml of olive oil, some honey and salt and pepper to taste. Cook parsnips in a boiling salty water for 3-5 minutes. Drain them and put into the heatproof dish. In a pan heat the butter, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper (you can add a pinch of thyme to enhance taste). Drizzle the sauce over parsnips. Preheat the oven to 180°C and roast for approximately 20 min. Serve while hot. Honey roast parsnips would be a great addition to your Christmas turkey.

5) How to store
It is no more difficult to store parsnips than to store regular carrots. Unwashed parsnips, places in the vegetable drawer of the fridge can last for more than two week, especially if you wrap then in a paper towel and put into a plastic bag. You can also boil or steam parsnips (cut in cubes) and freeze them. This way they can be stored for up to 10 months. Same goes for parsnip puree.

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