Now that things have warmed up a bit and the soil has begun to thaw, it’s time to pull up the parsnips. Left in the ground all winter, they are harvested as soon as they can be pulled up in spring. A reason to over-winter them in the garden is that the chill of frosty weather sweetens their flavor. Parsnips are a genuine treat in spring when most of the stored crops have run out. It’s important to get them out before the warmer weather inspires them to grow. Parsnip is a biennial, forming a seed head in the second year. As that happens, the core of the root hardens and the plant becomes inedible.
Harvesting the parsnips is one of the great joys of spring. To do this, I start at the edge of the raised bed, and holding the shovel exactly vertical, push it straight down into the soil. Then I tip the shovel to loosen the root so it can be pulled out by hand. This method keeps the shovel from cutting into and damaging the roots.
|Parsnips are in the sink for scrubbing.|
This year’s crop is the best ever; the roots are straight, long and plump. AND TASTY!, I might add. Last year we planted them in a new spot with lots of soil depth and plenty of compost. This resulted in an abundant crop, so there are some for the freezer. The first step in preparing parsnips for the freezer is to throughly scrub them, then blanch for two minutes in boiling water. Following this, they are plunged into cold water for a few minutes, and then put into freezer bags.
The best and simplest way to cook parsnips is to sauté them in butter. The dash of wine is optional.
Parsnips, 2 to 3 per person depending on size
2 tbsp butter
Dash of white wine
Thoroughly scrub the parsnips with a vegetable brush. Trim off the tops, and slice them in half lengthwise. Melt the butter in a pan over medium low heat. Add the parsnips and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally so they cook evenly. Cook until the parsnips are fork tender, but not mushy. Add the wine in the last 2 minutes. Enjoy! -G.H.