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Parsnip (Pastinaca) – Properties, Benefits, Origin, Types, Characteristics

February 3, 2023
Parsnip (Pastinaca) - Properties, Benefits, Origin, Types, Characteristics

Find out below what parsnips or parsnips are , what are their types and main characteristics. Also learn about its properties, benefits, the best way to consume them … and more curious facts about this vegetable that belongs to the family of tubers.

What is parsnip?

Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), also known as parsnip, is an edible tuber native to Eurasia that is closely related to carrots and parsley. Although it can be eaten raw, most preparations require it to be cooked. In general, people are used to using carrots and forget about parsnips because they think they taste the same, but it is not; parsnips have a slightly sweeter taste, which makes them even more versatile and interesting in the kitchen.

Fun facts and features

  • Parsnips are native to Europe and Asia; they are said to have been introduced to North America in the 17th century.
  • In the Middle Ages, people had the false belief that eating parsnip could relieve toothache and tired feet.
  • Half a cup of cooked parsnip provides 3 grams of fiber and only 55 calories. It is also a good source of vitamin C (17% of the recommended daily amount), of folate (11%) and manganese (10%).
  • It is no coincidence that parsnip and carrot are so similar; these tubers are very close relatives.
  • The unique flavor of parsnip, or parsnip, comes from its starches, which turn into sugar while the vegetable has not been harvested.
  • In Europe, parsnips were used as a sweetener in the making of jams and cakes before the advent of cane sugar.

Types of parsnips

  • Bulb type. As the name suggests, these parsnips grow stout and rounded on top. Some of the varieties of bulbous parsnips include Avonresister and White Gem; These  are characterized by having smooth skin with a fine and delicate flavor .
  • Wedge type. The wedge-type parsnip is longer than the bulb-type parsnip, and has a wide top. This includes the All American and Gladiator F1 varieties. They are characterized by having a white and pale flesh, with a small inner core .
  • Bayonet type. Bayonet parsnips are long and narrow. They are considered  the most common of the three varieties . Some examples are the Hollow Crown parsnip and the Parsnip Arrow, characterized by their white flesh, slightly tinged brown skin and lighter flavor.

Nutritional properties of parsnips

Half a cup of cooked and sliced ​​parsnip (60 g) contains approximately:

  • 55 calories
  • 3 g carbohydrates
  • 1 g of protein
  • 8 g fiber
  • 1 mg of vitamin C (17% DV)
  • 2 mcg (micrograms) folic acid (11 percent DV)
  • 2 mg de manganeso (11% DV)
  • 286 mg of potassium (8% DV)
  • 22.6 mg of magnesium (6% DV)
  • 0.5 mg of pantothenic acid (5% DV)
  • 8 g of phosphorus (5% DV)
  • 0.1 mg copper (5% DV)
  • 8 mg of vitamin E (4% DV)
  • 0.1 mg of vitamin B6 (4% DV)
  • 0.1 mg of thiamine (4% DV)
  • 6 mg de niacina (3% DV)
  • 9 mg calcium (3% DV)
  • 0.5 mg iron (3% DV)
  • 3 mcg of selenium (2% DV)

What is parsnip for? Benefits and uses

  • Improved heart health. The parsnip contains a generous amount of potassium, a mineral that acts as a vasodilator in the body (a compound that prevents arteries and veins from tightening); This  lowers blood pressure and promotes good heart health . It also contains folate, so it helps reduce homo-cysteine ​​levels in the blood (a compound associated with heart disease).
  • It is a good source of fiber. The parsnip or parsnip is known to be an excellent source of soluble fiber, hence it helps reduce bad cholesterol levels and prevent the risk of diabetes . On the other hand, it  improves digestive health by promoting regular bowel movements, thus avoiding constipation and other common digestive disorders.1
  • Lowers the risk of birth defects. The folate present in parsnip is known to help reduce the risk of birth defects in babies . It is also linked to lower levels of depression , in fact it can help you cope with postpartum depression.2
  • It helps control weight. The soluble fiber content provided by this tuber makes the person feel satisfied longer and prevents the release of ghrelin, or hunger hormone. That is why regular consumption of parsnip can help you reduce the volume of calories you eat during the day, as well as reduce and control weight.
  • Gives a boost to the immune system. Parsnip contains vitamins C and E, which help us eliminate free radicals and prevent various diseases. Vitamin C also supports the production of white blood cells to stimulate the immune system and protect the body against foreign microbes and pathogens.3
  • Promotes growth and regeneration. Although the protein content in this tuber is not high, its full range of minerals and vitamins makes it an ideal complement to promote different regenerative processes in our body. It is an ideal food to  balance nutrient deficient diets .

How to consume parsnip?

Parsnip is consumed in a similar way to carrots, that is, raw as part of a salad or cooked in different preparations. Here are some examples you can try:

  • Baked : cut several parsnips into sticks, similar to cutting French fries, place them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with spices and salt to taste; then bake until they reach the desired doneness (soft or crisp). It is a different and healthier option to accompany your meals.
  • In stews . Sliced ​​parsnips, like carrots, are a good accompaniment to dishes based on stewed meat.
  • Fried : chop a parsnip into cubes and fry them in coconut oil for a healthy snack.
  • In soups : Mix parsnip with other vegetables and spices to make a filling and nutritious soup.

Whenever possible, go for small or medium parsnips, as large ones are often more stringy and difficult to cook. Avoid parsnips that have lots of whiskers and brown patches.

If you need a sample recipe for inspiration, watch the following video:

Frequent questions

Is parsnip fattening?

Like carrots, parsnips are one of those foods that provide many vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients for health, but at the same time are very low in calories. While it is true that some dishes that contain parsnip  can make you fat if they include plenty of fat or starches , eating parsnip will definitely not make you fat, on the contrary, it is an excellent option for people looking to lose weight.

How to store parsnip?

Before storing parsnips, it is important to trim the leaves and stems to a height of ½ inch, as well as brush to remove all soil.

Store parsnips at a temperature of 32 ° to 40 ° F (1 ° to -4 ° C), with 95% relative humidity . This can be accomplished by placing them inside a perforated plastic bag, then placing them in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. That way the parsnips can be stored for 4 to 6 months. It is recommended to check the condition of the roots during storage to eliminate those that begin to deteriorate.

What is the origin of parsnip?

Parsnip is native to Europe. It is said that it was already cultivated since the time of the ancient Romans, however the most advanced cultivation of parsnips began in the Middle Ages, a period in which this tuber had great importance, until it was replaced by potatoes and carrots.

What is the parsnip plant like?

The parsnip plant has a straight, branched stem , with a rosette of oblong or triangular shaped leaves that can reach 30-38 cm (12-15 inches) in length. The leaves at the top of the plant are smaller and attached directly to the stem.

This plant produces flowers yellow or orange, with wide umbrella – shaped petals.

The plant’s taproot is thick and fleshy, and can reach 4 to 9 inches (10-23 cm) long. In general, the parsnip plant can grow to a height of 90-180 cm (35-70 inches).

How is parsnip grown?

To grow parsnips at home, follow these basic tips :

  • Place two seeds per inch of soil, half an inch deep in the soil.
  • Before setting the seeds, make sure the soil is loose and tilled to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, as the parsnip can reach this length as it grows downward.
  • Finally, add a layer of compost about 2-4 inches to the surface of the soil.
  • The seedlings will emerge in two to three weeks. As the seedlings mature, they need to be thinned (remove some branches) until there are 3-6 inches of space between each plant to encourage healthy yield.
  • Parsnip seedlings typically take 16 weeks to fully mature; after this time they will be ready to be harvested.

What does parsnip taste like?

Parsnips are sweet, even sweeter than carrots; its earthy and spicy flavor is very similar to a mixture of nutmeg and cinnamon.

What other names does it have?

Other common names for parsnips are  parsnip and field celery . Its scientific name is  Pastinaca sativa .

What is the difference between carrot and parsnip?

The biggest difference between the two tubers is in their taste. Parsnip has an almost spicy flavor, reminiscent of nutmeg and cinnamon, while carrot has a sweetness closer to that of winter squash.



My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.