Parsley root (also called Hamburg parsley, Dutch parsley, and turnip-rooted parsley) is the root of the herb parsley variety grown for its large taproot though, rather than its leaves (although its leaves are edible too – large Italian parsley-like leaves — finely cut, flat, and dark green.). It belongs to the carrot family, along with fennel, celery, coriander (cilantro), and the very similar-looking parsnips. The parsley-like leaves should give it away, but if not, take a bite. Parsnip is sweet; parsley root is not – its flavour contains elements of celeriac, parsley, and carrot but it is more aggressive and aromatic.
Parsley root was first used in cooking in 16th century Hamburg, Germany. It is found in dishes around Russia, Poland, and Germany. Though cultivated varieties are grown throughout the Northern Hemisphere in both the New and Old World, Parsley root remains commercially relevant as a culinary crop primarily in Central and Eastern Europe. The tuber can be found in markets catering to predominantly Polish, Jewish and German populations.
Parsley roots can be sliced or cubed and prepared as a cooked vegetable in the same way as carrots, celery roots, parsnips and turnips. The roots become tender in about five minutes, but the flavour is not reduced by lengthy cooking. Use parsley root in soups or stews, combined with carrots, potatoes, turnips, onions or meat. It can be roasted or baked with beef or poultry, sautéed or fried with tofu and added to lentil dishes. Parsley root can be steamed, creamed or puréed, or you can boil parsley root and potatoes to create a flavourful variation on traditional mashed potatoes. Roots also can be dried and used for flavouring.
Raw parsley root, with its intense parsley taste, can be used whole, grated, sliced or diced to add an unusual flavour to winter salads. You can shred the crisp-textured parsley root along with other root vegetables to make a raw salad or slaw. Parsley root leaves can be chopped and used for garnishing and flavouring foods.
Parsley root is available year-round with a peak season during the winter and spring months. It can be very difficult to find, but the best bet is to try farmers markets. Feel free to share any location you find this product in the comments section below.
Grow your own
- According to Burke’s Backyard : “This variety is easy to grow anywhere in Australia, and does best in a sunny, open position in well-drained, moist soil.”
- To get seeds try this online Seed Merchant.
Selection and Storage
- Look for firm, uniformly-sized roots that are a beige-white.
- The greens are best eaten within a couple of days, but the roots will store well for a week or two — treat them just like carrots.
- Cut off the greens and store the roots and greens separately in plastic bags or reusable containers.
- When you’re ready to use the roots, they’ll need a good scrub to get the dirt off, but they don’t need to be peeled.
- Celeriac or Carrots or Parsnips or Turnips
The leaves, root and seeds of parsley have been used in traditional Greek medicine to treat flatulence, indigestion, spasms and menstrual disorders. Parsley root extract is useful for treating chronic liver and gallbladder diseases because it has diuretic, blood purifying and hepatic qualities. The dried root and essential oil are used in Indian Ayurvedic healing.
Parsley root and parsley are high in vitamins A, C and K and contain copper, iron and iodine. Parsley root is high in sodium, folic acid, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, protein and fibre. It has a substantial amount of flavonoids and is a strong antioxidant.
Avoid excessive quantities of parsley root during pregnancy because its oils can stimulate the uterus, cross the placenta and increase fetal heart rate (uterotonic effects). Parsley root contains natural substances called oxalates, which can cause health problems by becoming too concentrated and crystalizing in your body fluids. For this reason, individuals with kidney or gallbladder conditions should be cautious about consuming parsley root.