Spring-Dug Parsnips

March 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm Leave a comment

Members of our vegetable share are the lucky recipients this week of Spring-Dug Parsnips from Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont.  Yes, we’re featuring another root vegetable, but Spring-Dug Parsnips are really something special. 

Parsnips mature in the fall and can certainly be harvested and stored at that time, but most farmers in-the-know leave at least a portion of their crop in the ground through the winter to be dug as soon as the soil thaws in Spring.  This is not merely a tactic meant to save labor in the fall or space in the root cellar – that over-wintering process makes the parsnips sing with sweetness in a way that fall parsnips, however delicious, never will. 

For those of you interested in science, what’s happening is this: the starches in those mature parsnips convert to sugars as the deep freeze hits – it’s the plant’s way of protecting itself.  The root themselves become more tender and the flavor mellows and becomes very noticeably sweeter.  Honestly, these parsnips practically taste like candy – a prize for surviving another Maine winter and better for you than any Easter candy!

Soon our vegetable shares will be all about GREENS, but until then we’ll be savoring these parsnips.  This uniquely Northeastern treat will only be around for a few weeks, so we like to cook them on their own, or with minimal dressing up.  If it’s your first time preparing them, try slicing the parsnips (no need to peel them) and then saute in some butter with a little salt and pepper.  When they’ve just begun to brown put just a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the pan and cover.  Lower the heat and let them steam until tender.  We also like the idea of this recipe featured in an article in Maine Boats Homes & Harbors, which combines spring dug parsnips with ginger and lemon, and this recipe from Yankee Magazine which pairs them with sea scallops. Yum! 

Vegetable share members, we would love to hear from you!  What have you done with the Spring Dug Parsnips? Email freerangefarmtruck@live.com

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Featuring…turnips! on the road with farm truck

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