Parsnip
Overview
The parsnip is a root vegetable
Root vegetable
Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of...

 related to the carrot
Carrot
The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in colour, though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. It has a crisp texture when fresh...

. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler than most carrots and have a sweeter taste, especially when cooked. The buttery, slightly spicy, sweet flavor of cooked mature (often picked after the first frost) parsnips is reminiscent of butterscotch
Butterscotch
Butterscotch is a type of confectionery whose primary ingredients are brown sugar and butter, although other ingredients such as corn syrup, cream, vanilla, and salt are part of some recipes...

, honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

, and subtle cardamom
Cardamom
Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds...

. Like carrots, parsnips are native to Eurasia and have been eaten there since ancient times. Zohary and Hopf note that the archeological evidence for the cultivation of the parsnip is “still rather limited,” and that Greek and Roman literary sources are a major source about its early use, but warn "there are some difficulties in distinguishing between parsnip and carrot (which, in Roman times, were white or purple) in classical writings since both vegetables seem to have been sometimes called pastinaca yet each vegetable appears to be well under cultivation in Roman times." As pastinache comuni the "common" pastinaca figures in the long list of comestibles enjoyed by the Milanese given by Bonvesin de la Riva
Bonvesin de la Riva
Bonvesin da la Riva was a well-to-do Milanese lay member of the Ordine degli Umiliati , a teacher of grammar and a notable Lombard poet and writer of the 13th century.His De magnalibus urbis Mediolani , written in the late spring of...

 in his "Marvels of Milan" (1288).
While parsnips can be eaten raw, they are more commonly served cooked.
Encyclopedia
The parsnip is a root vegetable
Root vegetable
Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of...

 related to the carrot
Carrot
The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in colour, though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. It has a crisp texture when fresh...

. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler than most carrots and have a sweeter taste, especially when cooked. The buttery, slightly spicy, sweet flavor of cooked mature (often picked after the first frost) parsnips is reminiscent of butterscotch
Butterscotch
Butterscotch is a type of confectionery whose primary ingredients are brown sugar and butter, although other ingredients such as corn syrup, cream, vanilla, and salt are part of some recipes...

, honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

, and subtle cardamom
Cardamom
Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds...

. Like carrots, parsnips are native to Eurasia and have been eaten there since ancient times. Zohary and Hopf note that the archeological evidence for the cultivation of the parsnip is “still rather limited,” and that Greek and Roman literary sources are a major source about its early use, but warn "there are some difficulties in distinguishing between parsnip and carrot (which, in Roman times, were white or purple) in classical writings since both vegetables seem to have been sometimes called pastinaca yet each vegetable appears to be well under cultivation in Roman times." As pastinache comuni the "common" pastinaca figures in the long list of comestibles enjoyed by the Milanese given by Bonvesin de la Riva
Bonvesin de la Riva
Bonvesin da la Riva was a well-to-do Milanese lay member of the Ordine degli Umiliati , a teacher of grammar and a notable Lombard poet and writer of the 13th century.His De magnalibus urbis Mediolani , written in the late spring of...

 in his "Marvels of Milan" (1288).

Uses

While parsnips can be eaten raw, they are more commonly served cooked. Parsnips can be boiled, roasted or used in stew
Stew
A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables , meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used...

s, soup
Soup
Soup is a generally warm food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water, or another liquid. Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavors are extracted, forming a broth.Traditionally,...

s and casserole
Casserole
A casserole, from the French for "saucepan", is a large, deep dish used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel, with the cookware itself called a casserole dish or casserole pan...

s. In some cases, the parsnip is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root and contributing starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

 to thicken the dish. Roasted parsnip is considered an essential part of Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner is the primary meal traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. In many ways the meal is similar to a standard Sunday dinner. Christmas feasts have traditionally been luxurious and abundant...

 in some parts of the English-speaking world and frequently features in the traditional Sunday Roast
Sunday roast
The Sunday roast is a traditional British main meal served on Sundays , consisting of roasted meat, roast potato or mashed potato, with accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables and gravy....

. Parsnips can also be fried or made into crisps.

The parsnip originated in the Mediterranean region and originally was the size of a baby carrot when fully grown. When the Roman Empire expanded north through Europe, the Romans brought the parsnip with them. They found that the parsnip grew bigger the farther north they went.

Etymology

While folk etymology sometimes assumes the name is a portmanteau of parsley
Parsley
Parsley is a species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae, native to the central Mediterranean region , naturalized elsewhere in Europe, and widely cultivated as an herb, a spice and a vegetable.- Description :Garden parsley is a bright green hairless biennial herbaceous plant in temperate...

 and turnip
Turnip
The turnip or white turnip is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock...

, it actually comes from Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 pasnepe, alteration (influenced by nep, turnip) of Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 pasnaie (now panais) from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 pastinum, a kind of fork, whose ending was changed to -nip by analogy with turnip because it was assumed to be a kind of turnip. It is among the closest relatives of parsley, which can be bred to develop a very parsnip-like root.

Cultivation

Parsnips are not grown in warm climates, since frost is necessary to develop their flavor..
The parsnip is a favorite with gardeners in areas with short growing seasons. Sandy, loam
Loam
Loam is soil composed of sand, silt, and clay in relatively even concentration . Loam soils generally contain more nutrients and humus than sandy soils, have better infiltration and drainage than silty soils, and are easier to till than clay soils...

y 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 over. More than almost any other vegetable seed, parsnip seed significantly deteriorates in viability if stored for long, so it is advisable to use fresh seed each year.

In Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 times, parsnips were believed to be an aphrodisiac
Aphrodisiac
An aphrodisiac is a substance that increases sexual desire. The name comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexuality and love. Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviors have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and/or pleasurable...

.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 this plant was introduced by British colonists as a root vegetable. In the mid-19th century it was replaced by the potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

 and consequently escaped from cultivation. New cultivars continued to be developed and disseminated including the Student cultivar, developed by James Buckman
James Buckman
James Buckman was a British pharmaceutical chemist, professor, museum curator, botanist, geologist, archaeologist, author and farmer....

.

Parsnip is used as a food plant by the larva
Larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

e of some lepidoptera
Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

species, including its namesake, the parsnip swallowtail and also the common swift
Common Swift (moth)
The Common Swift is a moth of the family Hepialidae. It was previously placed in the genus Hepialus. It is a common, often abundant European species....

, garden dart
Garden Dart
The Garden Dart is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It is distributed throughout Europe.This is a rather drab species, forewings ranging from pale to dark brown with indistinct markings. The hindwings are white with a grey fringe. The wingspan is 32-40 mm...

, and ghost moth
Ghost Moth
The Ghost Moth , also known as the Ghost Swift, is a moth of the family Hepialidae. It is common throughout Europe except for the far south-east...

.

Dangers

While the root of the parsnip is edible, the handling of its shoots and leaves requires protective clothing. Like many other members of the Apiaceae
Apiaceae
The Apiaceae , commonly known as carrot or parsley family, is a group of mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems. The family is large, with more than 3,700 species spread across 434 genera, it is the sixteenth largest family of flowering plants...

 family, the parsnip contains furanocoumarin
Furanocoumarin
Furanocoumarins, or furocoumarins, are a class of organic chemical compounds produced by a variety of plants. They are biosynthesized partly through the phenylpropanoid pathway and the mevalonate pathway, which is biosynthesized by a coupling of dimethylallyl pyrophosphate and 7-hydroxycoumarin...

, a photosensitive chemical that causes a condition known as phytophotodermatitis
Phytophotodermatitis
Phytophotodermatitis is a chemical reaction which makes skin hypersensitive to ultraviolet light. It is frequently mistaken for hereditary conditions such as atopic dermatitis or chemical burns, but it is caused by contact with the photosensitizing compounds found naturally in some plants and...

. The condition is a type of chemical burn rather than an allergic reaction and should be treated as such. Symptoms include redness, burning, tingling, and blisters (often in the shape of the streak where the plant juices brushed against the body) within 24-48 hours of exposure.

When gardening parsnips, gloves and long-sleeves are advised. If bare skin does come into contact with the upper part of a parsnip plant, the area should be washed immediately and kept out of sunlight. A cool, indoor area is best to retreat to, as sweat can aid in the absorption of the toxin, and sunlight activates its deleterious effects. Should a rash appear, the area may be treated similar to a burn and a physician or pharmacist ought to be consulted.

Today most jurisdictions have wild parsnip on their list of noxious weeds
Noxious weeds
A noxious weed is an invasive species of a plant that has been designated by country, state or provincial, or national agricultural authorities as one that is injurious to agricultural and/or horticultural crops, natural habitats and/or ecosystems, and/or humans or livestock...

 or invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

 for this reason.

Nutritional properties

The parsnip is richer in vitamin
Vitamin
A vitamin is an organic compound required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. In other words, an organic chemical compound is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet. Thus, the term is conditional both on...

s and minerals
Dietary mineral
Dietary minerals are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules. Examples of mineral elements include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, and iodine...

 than its close relative, the carrot. It is particularly rich in potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 with 600 mg per 100 g. The parsnip is also a good source of dietary fiber
Dietary fiber
Dietary fiber, dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components:* soluble fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and* insoluble fiber that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it...

. 100 g of parsnip contains 75 Calorie
Calorie
The calorie is a pre-SI metric unit of energy. It was first defined by Nicolas Clément in 1824 as a unit of heat, entering French and English dictionaries between 1841 and 1867. In most fields its use is archaic, having been replaced by the SI unit of energy, the joule...

s (230 kJ) of energy.

General


Recipes

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