Related to the parsley and carrot family, the parsnip is a root vegetable that is native to Eurasia. Parsnips can be either roasted and boiled. They can be used in soups, stews and casseroles. Parsnips are at their peak in the U.S. in the fall and winter. Often mashed like potatoes or pureed in soups.


Other names: Pastinaca Sativa
Translations: Pastinaks, Pastarnokas, Păstârnac, Pastrnak, Cây phòng phong, Pasternak, Pastinaak, चुकंदर, Cherivia, Пастернак, Είδος δαυκίου, الجزر الأبيض, 양방 풀 나물, Pastinák, Ubi, 帕斯尼普, Xirivia, Pastinak, Paštrnák, Pastinaca, גזר לבן, Palsternacka, Пашканат, パースニップ, Panais, Pastinake, Pastinak, Pastinakk, Chirivía, Пастернак, Palsternakka, Пащърнак

Physical Description

A creamy, yellowish vegetable that aside from the color, generally resembles a carrot in shape.

Colors: dark cream to light golden beige

Tasting Notes

Flavors: sweet and lightly bitter, herbal
Mouthfeel: Crunchy, Earthy
Food complements: Apples, Potatoes, Butter, Fennel, Carrots, Pork
Wine complements: Pinot grigio, Viognier
Beverage complements: Apple cider
Substitutes: Carrots

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, opctober, november, december
Peak: january, opctober, november, december
Choosing: Choose small- to medium-size parsnips; they'll be less fibrous and more tender. They shouldn't be "furry" or have obvious blemishes. The skin should be fairly smooth and firm, not shriveled. If the greens are still attached, they should look fresh.
Buying: Widely available in most supermarkets, especially in the fall and winter. Available in the late season farmers markets.
Procuring: The parsnip is a gardener's favorite in areas with short growing seasons. Sandy, loamy soil is preferred; silty, clay, and rocky soils are unsuitable as they produce short forked roots.
Seeds can be planted in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Harvesting can begin in late fall after the first frost, and continue through winter until the ground freezes.
Parsnips are not grown in warm climates, since frost is necessary to develop their flavor.

Preparation and Use

Parsnips are added to mashed potatoes for a distinct and delicate flavor addition. They are also served roast and added to soups and stews

Cleaning: Scrub parsnips well before using. Trim both ends. Cut 1/4- to 1/2-inch off the top (the greens end) to avoid pesticide residues. Scrape or peel a thin layer of skin before or after cooking. (Doing it after, they'll be sweeter and have more nutrients.)

Conserving and Storing

Clip off any attached greens, so they won't drain moisture from the root, before storing. Parsnips stored in your crisper drawer in a loosely closed plastic bag will keep for a couple of weeks.


History: In Roman times parsnips were believed to be an aphrodisiac.



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