Parsnips - Tāmore mā/Uhitea

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.


Available: all year


Refrigerate in paper 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. 

Cooking methods

Bake, boil, microwave, roast, sauté, steam, stew.


Parsnips are a good source of dietary fibre and vitamin K, a source of niacin, pantothenic acid and vitamin C, and contains 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.

Nutrition table

PARSNIP Raw      
Nutrition Information        
Serving size: 1 cup sliced = 133g      
  Average Quantity % Daily Intake per serve Average Quantity  
per serving per 100g  
Energy (kJ/Cal) 313/75 4% 235/56  
Protein (g) 1.3 3% 1.0  
Fat, total (g) 0.4 1% 0.3  
 - saturated (g) 0.06 0% 0.04  
Available carbohydrate (g) 13.7 4% 10.3  
 - sugars (g) 7.8 9% 5.9  
Dietary Fibre (g) 5.3   4.0 A good source of dietary fibre
Sodium (mg) 3 0% 2  
Vitamin K (µg) 30 37% ESADDI** 23.0 A good source of vitamin K
Niacin (µg)  2 20% RDI* 1.5 A source of niacin
Pantothenic acid (mg) 0.8 16% ESADDI** 0.6 A source of pantothenic acid
Vitamin C (mg) 4 11% RDI* 3 A source of vitamin C
Potassium (mg) 532   400 Contains potassium
Riboflavin (mg) 0.07 4% RDI* 0.05  
Thiamin (mg) 0.08 7% RDI* 0.06  
Iron (mg) 0.3 2% RDI* 0.2  
Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ 
Your daily Intakes may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs 
 *Recommended Dietary Intake (Average Adult)
**Estimated Safe and Adequate Daily Dietary Intake
Source: FOODfiles 2018        



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.