Parsnips are root vegetables and belong to the carrot family.
They have been grown in Europe since Roman times. The word parsnip is from the Latin ‘pastus’ meaning food and ‘sativa’ meaning cultivated.
Parsnips have a delicate, sweet and slightly nutty flavour. Different parsnip varieties have very subtle taste variations and slightly different shapes. The sweet flavour comes when starch is converted to sugar. This happens in cold weather, preferably when frosts occur. For pre-winter crops store parsnips at low temperatures (0°C) and some starch conversion to sugar will occur.
What to look for
Look for smooth and firm parsnips. Small to medium sized parsnips are the best quality, preferably around 5-7 cm shoulder diameter and approximately 19-25 cm in length. Avoid large coarse roots, which usually have woody or fibrous centres. Different varieties are available with slightly differing shaped tapers but taste variations are marginal.
All year but with limited supplies in summer.
Refrigerate in plastic bags.
How to prepare
Trim ends and peel. Cut into even portions or, if small, use whole. Remove woody centres from large parsnips. Young parsnips do not need peeling, however, older and tougher parsnips may need to be peeled. Cooking time depends on the size of the pieces and the age of the parsnip; the cooked pieces should be tender but still firm.
Ways to eat
Parsnips make delicious chips or wedges; chop and add to braises or stews; use in stir fries, salads, pies, soups, soufflés. Parsnips can included with other roast vegetables; boiled and mashed with carrots and parsnip cake is similar in texture to carrot cake.
Bake, boil, microwave, roast, sauté, steam, stew.
|Serving size: ½ medium parsnip - 80g|
|Fat, total (g)||0.4||0.6%||0.5|
|- saturated (g)||trace||0%||trace|
|- sugars (g)||4.6||5%||5.8|
|Dietary fibre (g)||3.2||11%||4.0||Contains dietary fibre|
|Niacin (mg)||1.6||16% RDI*||2||A source of niacin|
|Potassium (mg)||320||400||Contains potassium|
|Vitamin C (mg)||2.6||7% RDI*||3.3|
|Iron (mg)||0.16||1% RDI*||0.2|
|Thiamin (mg)||trace||0% RDI*||trace|
|Riboflavin (mg)||trace||0% RDI*||trace|
Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ
Source: The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 10th Edition, Plant & Food Research - 2014
Parsnips are a source of niacin plus contain dietary fibre and potassium at levels of dietary significance. While not rich in phytonutrients, parsnips do contain falcarinol (also found in carrots), which may be protective against some cancers.
Stock only clean, size-graded parsnips. Do not over-trim as the cut areas will turn brown. Stock rotation is essential as parsnips tend to wilt more quickly than carrots. Parsnips look attractive when displayed in straight or circular layers. Offer parsnips and carrots in the same prepack bag. Use the QR code on labels.
Store at 0°C with a 90-100% relative humidity. Bulk parsnips are usually purchased in large plastic bags, which need to be punctured to allow adequate air circulation, otherwise condensation will build up resulting in premature decay.
Purchase parsnips with the New Zealand GAP logo.
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