really a winter crop, although nowadays they are available all year
round. Tradition has it that parsnips are best after the first frost,
but many people like the very young tender parsnips available in the
early summer. When buying parsnips, choose small or medium-size
specimens as the large ones tend to be rather fibrous. They should feel
firm and be a pale ivory color without any sprouting roots. Store
parsnips in a cool place, ideally an airy larder or cool outhouse, where
they will keep well for 8-10 days.
Preparing : Very small parsnips need
little or no peeling. Just trim the ends and cook according to your
recipe. Medium-size and large parsnips need to be peeled. Larger
parsnips also need to have the woody core removed; if it is cut out
before cooking, the parsnips will cook more quickly and evenly.
Cooking : Roast parsnips are best
par-boiled for a few minutes before adding to the roasting dish. Very
young parsnips can be roasted whole but larger ones are best halved or
quartered lengthways. Roast in butter or oil for about 40 minutes in an
oven preheated to 200oC. To boil parsnips, cut them into
pieces about 5 cm long and boil for 15-20 minutes until tender. When
boiled briefly like this, they keep their shape, but when added to a
casserole or stew they eventually disintegrate. Don't worry if this
happens. Parsnips need plenty of cooking so that the flavor can blend
with the other ingredients.