Parsnips are a very strong and easy vegetable to grow, they take around 8 months, I sowed the parsnip seeds straight into our veg beds in April and they were ready to harvest from November onwards. I often find that you will get the best flavours in your parsnips after a good frost!
Sowing your seeds…
I tend to sow the seeds 6 inches between plants and 7 inches between rows – it is possible to sow in the same way as a carrot (which is 5 inches between plants and rows) however this will make your parsnips smaller in size. Much like carrots, you will need to protect them from the pesky carrot fly! What I do at THE PIG-at Bridge Place is cover them with a fine net until it is time to harvest.
At the end of September when the top of the plants starts to decay, I chop the top two thirds down, keeping the bed tidier and helping the plant to put all of its energy in the roots. This will help the parsnips grow into the perfect parsnips!
Cooking your parsnips
The most common way to cook parsnips is roasting, but it is possible to fry them, similar to a potato. Currently on the menu at THE PIG-at Bridge Place we have “Roasted Piccolo Parsnip” with a preserved lemon dressing and Kentish blue cheese – in this dish the parsnips are both roasted and deep fried.
Our Chef roasts some of the parsnips at 180 degrees without stems, making the sugars of the parsnips caramelise and then deep fries the rest, making them crispy – yum! The blue salted cheese gives it that cracking sweet and salt tarte combination.
Happy Parsnip growing!