Thursday, January 13, 2011

Parsnippin': The End is Just the Beginning


A few weeks ago, we saw the first frost of the winter season, with this comes a lot of change.  Whereas most uncovered vegetables seem to be done until the spring, parsnips are just getting started.  Parsnips are grown in cold climates as the frosty weather forces them to establish their sweet flavor.  A perfect veggie for boiling, roasting and especially a great sweet soup, one parsnip's final harvest is another...

parsnip's new beginning.  It turns out that these parsnips are seeded way back in March and it's not until the following March that the harvest is completed.  Starting in late November/early December and all the way through the winter, parsnips can be picked.  The longer they are in the ground the bigger and sweeter they will be.  The captain demonstrated one technique for pulling the parsnips from the ground in the early part of the season when the ground is just starting to freeze.  It involves some sharp metal objects and a whole lot of jumping.  When the ground freezes, it makes it much harder to get a tool in the ground, but with a little force you can crack the earth and get right down in there.  Later in the season when the ground is frozen a few feet down, a plow will be used to tear up the ground.  Whatever point in the harvest season, the key is to recognize where the parsnip tops are protruding from the ground and avoid any accidental cuts.

Once you create a hole in the ground, you can see the delicious snips just waiting to come out. 

Being so early in the season, these guys are still pretty skinny, although some, like this one are still pretty impressively long.  Even when you pull up these chunks of earth, it can still be tough to pull them out.

Different techniques are used by different people.  I highly recommend avoiding the following technique.  This one ends in pain and confusion.

Whichever way works, you'll be left with a sweet flavored taproot waiting to be eaten.

As mentioned earlier, the final harvest for parsnips will be all the way in March and it is at that time that the new parsnip crop will be sown.  It's a full circle experience where all ends lead to new beginnings.  It's a beautiful thing.


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