By Shannon Harts
Although we are on the cusp of a time to start enjoying field-fresh foods grown by dedicated farmers around the Finger Lakes, we are not quite there yet. Luckily there’s still a variety of produce that can be found at winter farmers’ markets around the region, such as parsnips.
Parsnips are part of the Apiaceae or carrot family, according to Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Vegetable Program. Specifically, they are a root vegetable that is cream-colored and shaped like carrots.
Although periods to harvest parsnips in New York State are typically April or May and October through December, they store well over the winter so they can often be found locally throughout the season.
For those interested in growing parsnips in their home gardens, they can be grown much the same way as carrots. This includes ensuring they are planted in deep, well-drained soil. They can be planted in either mineral or muck soils and The Ontario Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs recommends planting them 0.6 (0.2 in) to 2 cm (0.8 inch) deep.
Parsnips offer a slightly sweet and nutty flavor similar to carrots (Michigan State University MSU Extension). They can also provide many important nutrients including fiber to regulate and reduce blood cholesterol levels in addition to potassium, vitamin C and B6/Folate.
Recipes for utilizing parsnips include: