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Preparing and Cooking Parsnips

Preparing and Cooking Parsnips

Parsnips are 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.

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