Parsnips are closely related to carrots, parsley and dill. I like to think of parsnips as the sweeter version of a carrot due to their high sugar content. In fact, with their yellow or beige to bright white skin and tapered root, parsnips look exactly like a carrot.
Parsnip Tid Bits
Parsnips are so versatile that they can be used in anything from soups to entrees, and, with a creative mind, dessert. Parsnips grow best in cold-climate crops, which allows for a longer growing season, which gives that distinctive sweet taste to parsnips. Native to the eastern Mediterranean, parsnips were first cultivated from the wild. Fortunately, colonists traveling to the New World introduced parsnips to the Americas in 1609.
Shopping for Parsnips
First off, bigger isn’t better. Enormous parsnips are woody, fibrous and not as sweet. Find small to medium-size parsnips, as they are sweeter and have a smaller core.
If you’re lucky enough to find parsnips with the greens intact, be sure those greens are bright and vibrant. You’re going to want to snatch up the ones with the greens. They’re almost always fresher. If the greens are removed, look at the top, where the greens were removed. It should look freshly cut and not oxidized.
Parsnips should never be dry or shriveled. Look for an even yellow-cream hue without any dark marks, as those markings indicate decay or being previously frozen. Also, avoid the ones with a lot of little whiskers or tiny threads. This is a sign that they were grown without sufficient water. Those little threads are sprouts trying to grab for more water. Parsnips love moisture to grow. The whisker or threads will just burn when you roast them if you choose not to peel them.
Store parsnips in a cool, dark place, same as you would carrots. I like to wrap parsnips in paper towels and place them in a plastic bag. Then, they go right in the vegetable drawer of my refrigerator. This method will allow your parsnips to keep for up to two weeks.