Let’s be honest, it’s a miracle if I know when vegetables are in season. However, most people associate parsnips with the fall. So, why am I writing about parsnips in the middle of April?! Well, it turns out that parsnips grow in the spring too. They’re sweeter (and in my opinion, much better) than the ones we eat at Thanksgiving.
Now, I only knew about this wonderful vegetable because Verrill Farm, an awesome farm stand in Concord, MA, wrote an article all about spring parsnips last week. And my mom found the article, thanks mom! So while my mom went to Verrill Farm to buy parsnips, I did some digging into the gardening behind this delicious treat.
According to Barbara Dmrosch “patience with parsnips pays off” (The Garden Primer). Basically, we plant parsnips in the spring, but when they are picked in the fall, they have not yet gone through the deep freeze of the winter. During this freeze, starches in the root are converted to sugars mellowing out the flavor and tenderizing the vegetable (Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbor). This also means the parsnips you eat in the spring grew for a FULL YEAR! So go thank your local gardner, farmer, etc. for his/her patience because if I was responsible for growing your parsnips they would not be as sweet, nor as succulent.
Now, if they need a deep freeze, how are they grown across the U.S.? Well, they aren’t! The sweeter springtime parsnips are unique to the north. However, for gardeners from the south who want to pick their parsnips in the spring, it’s recommended that you plant your parsnips in the fall/early winter. They will never be as sweet as New England parsnips though!
To enjoy our springtime parsnips, we actually followed the roasted recipe from Verrill Farm to the tee. Check out their article because it’s pretty cool! The parsnips are similar to carrots texturally, but much sweeter. For kids, it will remind them of eating seasoned potatoes, a great way to introduce a new vegetable/starch. And, this recipe certainly doesn’t need a dipping sauce!
What’s your favorite vegetable harvested in the spring?
- 1½ lb. parsnips
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. thyme
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Peel parsnips and splitting them lengthwise.
- Slice parsnips into pieces approximately ½ in. thick.
- Mix all 4 ingredients in a medium sized bowl, until the parsnips are fully coated.
- Bake until the parsnips are tender (approximately 25 minutes).
- Garnish with thyme (optional), and serve warm.