Produce Spotlight on Parsnips
Parsnips are a winter root vegetable. Their flavor is not fully developed until the roots have been exposed to near-freezing temperatures in the fall and early winter. The starch in the parsnip root changes into sugar, resulting in a strong, sweet taste. Parsnips provide fiber, folate, and vitamins C and K.
Shopping for Parsnips
Choose parsnips that are firm and dry with even color, ranging from off-white to pale yellow. Choose small to medium-sized parsnips, 8 to 10 inches long, for the best flavor and texture. Large parsnips may have a thicker skin and woodier center, but they taste great cooked. Baggged frozen parsnips are located in the freezer section of the grocery store.
All American – fastest-growing variety with a sweet, nutty flavor and tender flesh
Cobham Marrow – known as one of the sweetest parsnip varieties; used often in desserts or glazed with brown sugar
Harris Model – smooth, white skin with a sweet flavor
Storage and Preparation
- Remove and discard any green stems before storing parsnips.
- Store parsnips in a loose plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.
- Scrub with a clean vegetable brush under cool running water just before using.
- Place raw, peeled, and cut parsnips in a bowl of cold water with a splash of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown if you are not using them right away.
- Freeze parsnips for longer storage. Cut into 1-inch cubes and blanch for 2 minutes for best color and texture. Place in a freezer bag labeled with the date and use within 8 to 12 months.
- Cut parsnips, carrots, and celery into sticks and serve them raw with a low-fat dressing.
- Toss parsnips and other root vegetables with vegetable or olive oil and your favorite herbs. Roast at 425° F for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Add chopped parsnips to soups, stews, and casseroles.
1 pound of parsnips = about 4 medium
3 cups raw chopped = 2 cups cooked
Using Locally Grown Produce
Visit the UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program’s website featuring recipes using fruits and vegetables. To locate places to buy local produce, visit www.mass.gov/massgrown.