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Parsnip
multiple parsnips
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Pastinaca
Species: P. sativa
Binomial name
Pastinaca sativa
L.[1]

The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler than most of them and have a stronger flavor. Like carrots, parsnips are native to Eurasia and have been eaten there since ancient times. Zohary and Hopf note that the archeological evidence for the cultivation of the parsnip is “still rather limited,” and that Greek and Roman literary sources are a major source about its early use, but warn "there are some difficulties in distinguishing between parsnip and carrot (which, in Roman times, were white or purple) in classical writings since both vegetables seem to have been sometimes called pastinaca yet each vegetable appears to be well under cultivation in Roman times."[2] As pastinache comuni the "common" pastinaca figures in the long list of comestibles enjoyed by the Milanese given by Bonvesin de la Riva in his "Marvels of Milan" (1288).[3]

Contents

Uses

Until the potato arrived from the New World, its place in dishes was occupied by the parsnip and other root vegetables such as the turnip. Parsnips can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles. In some cases, the parsnip is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root and contributing starch to thicken the dish. Roasted parsnip is considered an essential part of Christmas dinner in some parts of the English-speaking world and frequently features in the traditional Sunday Roast. Parsnips can also be fried, or can be eaten raw, although raw parsnips are not frequently consumed.

The parsnip originates in the Mediterranean region and originally was the size of a baby carrot when fully grown. When the Roman Empire expanded north through Europe, the Romans brought the parsnip with them. They found that the parsnip grew bigger the farther north they went.[citation needed]

Etymology

While folk etymology sometimes assumes the name is a portmanteau of parsley and turnip, it actually comes from Middle English pasnepe, alteration (influenced by nep, turnip) of Old French pasnaie (now Panais) from Latin pastinum, a kind of fork, whose ending was changed to -nip by analogy with turnip because it was assumed to be a kind of turnip. It is among the closest relatives of parsley, which can be bred to develop a very parsnip-like root.

Cultivation

Parsnips are not grown in warm climates, since frost is necessary to develop their flavor.[citation needed]. The parsnip is a favorite with gardeners in areas with short growing seasons. Sandy, loamy soil is preferred; silty, clay, and rocky soils are unsuitable as they produce short, forked roots.

Seeds can be planted in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Harvesting can begin in late fall after the first frost, and continue through winter until the ground freezes over.

More than almost any other vegetable seed, parsnip seed significantly deteriorates in viability if stored for long, so it is advisable to use fresh seed each year.

In Roman times, parsnips were believed to be an aphrodisiac.

In the United States, this plant was introduced fairly early in history by British colonists as a root vegetable. In the mid-19th century, it was replaced in popularity by the potato and consequently escaped from cultivation. Today, most states have wild parsnip on their list of noxious weeds or invasive species.

Parsnip is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including its namesake, the Parsnip swallowtail and also the Common Swift, Garden Dart, and Ghost Moth.

Nutritional properties

Parsnips

The parsnip is richer in vitamins and minerals than its close relative, the carrot. It is particularly rich in potassium with 600 mg per 100 g. The parsnip is also a good source of dietary fiber. 100 g of parsnip contains 55 Calories (230 kJ) of energy.

References

  1. ^ "Pastinaca sativa information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?27018. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  2. ^ Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p. 203
  3. ^ Noted by John Dickie, Delizia! The Epic History of Italians and Their Food (New York, 2008), p. 38 (where they are identified as parsnips).
  • Dr D.G. Hessayon (2003) The Vegetable & Herb Expert. Expert Books. ISBN 0-903505-46-0
  • Dr. Mary Robson (1999) Poison Hemlock : Dangerous to People and Animals". Washington State University Online Directory
  • Adam Hart-Davis (2001) What did the Romans do for us?. BBC TV

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General

Recipes


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PARSNIP, botanically known as Pastinaca sativa (or Peucedanum sativum), a member of the natural order Umbelliferae, found wild in roadsides and waste places in England and throughout Europe and temperate Asia, and as an introduced plant in North America. It has been cultivated since the time of the Romans for the sake of its long fleshy whitish root, which has a peculiar but agreeable flavour. It succeeds best on a free sandy loam, which should be trenched and manured in the previous autumn, the manure being well buried. The seed should be sown thinly in March, in rows 15 to 18 in. apart, and finally thinned out to 1 ft. apart. The leaves will decay in October or November, when a portion of the roots may be taken up and stored in dryish sand for immediate use, the rest being left in the ground, to be taken up as required, but the whole should be removed by February to a dry cool place, or they will begin to grow. The best sorts are the Hollow-crowned, the Maltese and the Student. Dusting the ground with soot when sowing the seed and again when the leaves appear will keep the plants free from pests.


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