The longer the winter, the sweeter the parsnip?

Spring-dug parsnip chips with fresh mint

“Have you ever had a spring-dug parsnip?” My hand hovered over the little basket of what looked like white carrots. I froze at the question, and looked up from under my sweatshirt hood.

“no, why, are they different from fall parsnips?” I asked, slightly embarrassed for my ignorance. His tone implied that I might want to reconsider my purchase after the lesson I was about to receive.

“YES..” Heinel’s farmer Don answered, in a cautioning tone. Then he said”…they are much SWEETER!”

It was like having somebody say ‘sorry, I don’t have a dollar for you…but you can have twenty!’

My hand came back to life, and commenced greedily loading parsnips into the loot-bag that swung from my wrist.

Farmer Don continued, “we made parsnip chips with them, they were really good.”

At those words my taste-buds sprung out of bed. The salty-sweet crispness of a parsnip chip would be just the thing to justify this wintery day in mid-May. Since the heat in our building has recently been switched to air-conditioning, I figured it would be nice to have the oven going for warmth.

When I got home, I consulted the internet about spring-dug parsnips. According to various sources, many vegetables get woody or bland durning the winter rest, but parsnips seem to just get tastier.

Sometimes they get so sweet that you can even eat them raw. Timing is important, however. If they are left in the ground too long, the budding foliage will rob sugar off of the parsnips and you will be left with a hardened bitter root. I knew I wasn’t going to have to worry about that. Farmer Don is an excellent grower of vegetables. I made Heinel Farms spring-dug parsnip chips today and they were delicious!

Note: I like to finish my parsnips with a sprinkle of mint. We have several varieties of mint at the Minneapolis Farmers Market this time of the year, including chocolate mint, pineapple mint, and orange mint!


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