Why carrots instead of parsnips?

I try to eat a variety of foods. Among that variety, I eat parsnips. If you don’t know what parsnips are - they’re very much like carrots, except they’re white, have a slightly more pungent odor, and a different flavor.

Lately, I’ve been thinking - what made carrots so darn popular as opposed to parsnips? You prepare parsnips much as carrots, at least for cooking (I can’t recall eating them raw). They’re sweet, like carrots. Much the same size, texture, etc…

Why don’t we eat peas and parsnips? Why don’t you see cans of sliced parsnips? Is there some solid reason (expense, perisability, availability, whatever) or is it just one of those cultural quirks?

Just a guess – but maybe people didn’t want to risk being called parsnipetty?

American quirk…parsnips and salsify have been popular in Europe since they were bred up=) [FWIW, parsnis are a modification of parsley, and carrots are a modification of wild carrot/Queen Annes Lace.] A caveat if you want to try wild carrot is be sure not to confuse it with water hemlock, otherwise you will have a particularly Socratic moment…but be prepared for a very pungent I AM CARROT taste, and a rough fiberous and pretty much almost inedible root… when they bred it for size and tenderness, they toned down the flavor and made it much softer and less fiberous=)

Salsify is also called ‘oyster root’ though I don’t think it tastes like oysters [going by smell because I am allergic to bivalves=)] but mrAru doesn’t think so either…he thinks it is more turnip-y, or a cross between turnip and celery root.

Hm, celeriac/celery root is another veggie that is more eurocentric…like a starch version of celery flavor. Commonly cut into julienne and served with a mustardy remoulade sauce as a salad in France.

Mum makes mashed carrot and parsnip… mmmm, tasty.

Parsnips have a kind of onion-y “under-flavor” that’s not quite as sweet as carrots, but they’re pretty close, to my palate anyway. I use them together in stews and roasted veggie dishes, just cuz they’re so pretty together. Sort of like using red and yellow bell peppers together - the flavors are interchangeable, but the contrast is more pleasing to the eye.

<1930s-style Strong Bad> Now we’ll make parsnip pie, and the Home Star Runner will go hungry! </1930s-style Strong Bad>

From my days of growing garden vegetables, parsnips are a harder crop to grow. they have a very poor germination rate – I remember thickly sowing parsnip seeds to have about three seedlings come up in each row. Carrots, on the other hand come up so profusely they have to be thinned. If they don’t get enough water parsnips become woody (stop laughing all you Americans) carrots are more resistant to drought, remaining edible at least. Carrots are relatively easy to store and hence transport, AFAIR parsnips must be eaten fairly soon after cropping. So I suspect agricultural/commercial considerations are in operation.

Plus, carrots are BRIGHT ORANGE. Never underestimate the power of beautiful vegetables.

(squeezing eyes shut, crossing fingers: Please nobody mention the realitive unpopularity of beets.)


I believe the popularity of eating carrots RAW is one reason that has lead to the decline in parsnip popularity. The sweet, mild taste has it all over the raw, quite perfume-y taste of it’s paler cousin, which is usually not consumed uncooked Considering America’s growing sweettooth[do we REALLY need marshmallows in our breakfast cereals?] I’m not surprised parsnips are vegetable non grata The pungent, but not unpleasant, smell of parsnips is tamed somewhat by cooking[wouldn’t have a beef stew without 'em] Science has pushed the healthful properties of carrots for decades, while completely overlooking parsnips[are they nutritionally similar, outside of the vitamin A content?] It is inevitable that they have joined the long list of relatively less popular vegetables: Brussels sprouts[one of my favorites, actually] beets[a TRULY disgusting comestible] lima beans, rutabagas,cabbage.

The relative unpopularity of beets has a lot to do with the truly gross flavor. Even snazzy looks won’t make up for food which tastes bad.

(snip) A caveat if you want to try wild carrot is be sure not to confuse it with water hemlock, otherwise you will have a particularly Socratic moment…but be prepared for a very pungent I AM CARROT taste, and a rough fiberous and pretty much almost inedible root… when they bred it for size and tenderness, they toned down the flavor and made it much softer and less fiberous=) (snip)

“I was reflecting upon the immortal words of Socrates, who said 'I drank * what*?”

Carrots also usually have more sugar and are a prettier color.

Hey, I like beets on my salads- even if they do turn my teeth pink. I like pickled beet eggs, too. :slight_smile:

Oniony-taste? Like carrots, only more flavorful?

Sign me up-anyone have a simple recipe for parsnips? I gotta try these!

Refried Parsnips
2 lb Parsnips
1 x Salt & Pepper; To Taste
4 tb Butter
1 tb Parsley; Chopped
1/8 ts Nutmeg

Wash, trim and scrape the parsnips. Cut into uniform pieces and boil in
salted water, 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well, and let dry.
Just before serving, heat the butter in a skillet and saute over moderate
heat until light brown on all sides, letting the parsnips caramelize a
little in their own sugar. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper and
serve in a warm vegetable dish, garnished with parsley.

Alternately, after boiling, run them through a food mill/food processer, add butter and salt and pepper to taste, sort of like mashed potatos

You can also take the puree, make it a bit stiffer so you can mold them into patties, and eggwash them, roll in panko crumbs and deepfry into sort of dumplings…

If you’re talking about canned beets, I’d

:: wiping sweat from brow while gag reflex subsides ::

Sorry; just had a flashback to childhood days of choking down the nasty stuff.

Anyway, there are ways to fix beets that are GOOD. Yes, there are so! They’re good shredded raw into a salad.* Or you can coarsely grate them for braising. The general idea:

One large onion, diced
One or two carrots, coarsely grated or julienned**
One beet, coarsely grated or julienned
Sautee in butter or olive oil till just softened (start the onion before the carrot and beet)
Add a spoonful or two of julienned sundried tomatoes
Add chicken breasts, lamb shoulder cuts, or blade steaks; flip to cover both sides
Cover and simmer on low, turning and stirring occasionally, till protein is done.

And, of course, a good home-made borscht is FABULOUS. The recipe in The Victory Garden Cookbook is labor-intensive but scrumptious – I always make a double batch since you can freeze portions that don’t get scarfed down immediately.
[sub]*Of course, I’m the kind of person who also likes red cabbage and broccoli florets in my salads, so take that for what it’s worth.

**This would be a good recipe to grate or julienne a parsnip into, too.[/sub]

I completely do not get the not liking beets thing. What’s not to like? Turnips, I can sort of understand (although I like them, too) but beets?

I also like Brussels sprouts and broccoli and kohlrabi, so maybe I’m just weird. (But I won’t eat cilantro. Tastes like soap.)

Parsnips are an essential part of true chicken soup. That’s the only place I eat them, but they are much more interesting than carrots there.

Thank you! People look at me weird when I say this. I can’t eat my sister’s homemade salsa because they load it up with cilantro.

My mom and I are the only people in my family who will eat parsnips. It’s not a matter of preference over carrots, it’s just another flavour. Mmmmm, parsnips! We also both like beets. Dad cries for us.

veggie like and dislike can sometimes be subjective…I know why many kids my age dislike spinach and peas, beets and brussels sprouts…cooking methods and preservation methods.

Canning veggies - you have to cook the veggie before canning, so when you cook a canned veggie they are rendered even further into mushy glop…and canned spinach is the antichrist! Green slime=( Same goes for canned green peas, little green slime balls=( Beets take on a metallic yucky taste from the cans and people overcook brussels sprouts until they are nasty and mushy…

Properly cooked fresh veggies can taste worlds different from canned or frozen…

I have noticed that veggiewise, I like pretty much everything with the exceptions of licorrice flavored [anise, fennel, dill] okra, eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms [deathly allergic] though cilantro does taste soapy to me also=) I think my willingness to try new veggies came from not being forced to eat them when young, we only had to try a taste of whatever was on our plate so we knew if we didnt like something we wouldnt be forced to eat it so we were willing to try things.