The parsnip is botanically recognised as Pastinaca sativa from the Apiaceae family. Often described as a white carrot. They are native to Europe, Asia and throughout the Mediterranean. They pre-date the potato and were often used in a fashion similar to potatoes today.

Parsnips are thought to have made an appearance in early Greek writings but some historians suggest there may be confusion between the recognition of Parsnip and Carrots. Either way, the modern day benefit of Parsnips in the diet should not be underestimated.

Parsnips propagate from seed but have been known to take a while to germinate. There are several ways to speed this up but the easiest is to add moisture to them for 24 hours before planting. Lay parsnip seeds on a damp sponge. Place another dripping wet sponge on top of them and leave in a warm spot. After 24 hours plant seeds as usual. It may be a little more time consuming since the seeds will be wet.

One of the most common uses for Parsnips is in soups. They also make excellent flavour additives in Stews and Casseroles. Parsnips are also often boiled and consumed with carrots either diced or mashed. An addition of parsnips with a roast meal is common. They bake well with pan juices and have a caramelised taste and sweetness. More uses further in this article.

Parsnips are a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin E. They contain a spectrum of B Group Vitamins – Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folic Acid. They have similar nutritional benefits as potatoes, though they are much lower in calories and their vitamin C content is not as high. They contain significant levels of Copper, manganese, potassium and magnesium. Parsnips are a good source of Dietary fibre.

Sugar makes up approximately half the Carbohydrate content of parsnips with the rest being made up of starch. Too many carbohydrates can lead to excess weight, but the body does need carbohydrates to feed certain organs, particularly the brain.

Ways to use Parsnips at home
Parsnips can be juiced and have a sweet taste that some liken to carrot. I have never personally tried the juice but of those I have talked to who have tried it, have offered positive testimonials.

Parsnips boiled with carrots and mashed with drizzle of olive oil make an excellent side vegetable. I have been known to sit and eat a bowl full as a main meal.

The high sugar content of parsnips (as with carrots), makes them ideal for baking. The sugar releases when baking and caramelises to deliver a perfect sweet baked parsnip. This does of course mean they can burn easily so pay close watch as they cook.

Perhaps the most popular use of parsnip is in soups. Parsnips along with Swede, carrot, celery and onion make excellent winter soup.

Similarly, Parsnips are excellent in soups and stews for adding their unique sweet taste and nutrients.

Author's Bio: 

Eric J. Smith is an Experienced Horticulturalist with a keen interest in Organic Gardening. Eric's interest in Organics also shows in his interest in Organic Nutrition and Organic Skincare. More information can be found on these by visiting his websites... for Organic Health related products and information on living an Organic Lifestyle. for general health information and articles on living a Healthy Lifestyle.

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