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Salsify ~UPD~

A root vegetable belonging to the dandelion family, salsify is also known as the oyster plant because of its similar taste when cooked. The root is similar in appearance to a long, thin parsnip, with creamy white flesh and a thick skin. In the same way as many root vegetables, salsify can be boiled, mashed or used in soups and stews.


White salsify roots range from slender to slightly thicker and parsnip-like, with ivory to light brown skin. Black salsify roots tend to be much slimmer, with dark black skin. Both have creamy white flesh. White salsify is supposed to resemble oysters in flavor, while black salsify is said to be the tastier of the two roots.

Salsify is still a very rare veggie in the US, making its environmental impact negligible. If you have questions about how your salsify was raised, ask your local salsify farmer about his/her growing practices.

Young salsify roots can be eaten raw if sliced thinly or grated, but more commonly both types of salsify are boiled, steamed, fried, baked or pureed into soups. Salsify pairs well with dairy (like butter, cream and cheese) and with strong herbs and flavorings (think garlic, onions), as well as with pork and chicken. Both the young shoots and the flowers can be eaten.

The importation of certain fruits and vegetables considered essential for Canadian consumption will be permitted, with the following exceptions: Blackberries, gooseberries, currants, cucumbers, watermelons, artichokes, shallots, green peas, romaine, parsnips, salsify, pomegranates, quinces, nectarines, mangos, eggplant, green peppers, Brussels Sprouts, asparagus, mushrooms, parsley, endive, beets and turnips.[1]

Purple salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius), also called the oyster plant, vegetable oyster, or oat root, has a white root and purple flowers. Black salsify (Scorzonera hispanica), also known as Spanish salsify, has a black root and yellow flowers. Both types of salsify are in the Asteraceae family (along with dandelions) but are different species found naturally in western Eurasia.[2]

Salsify requires a long growing season of 120 to 150 days from seeding to harvest. In the northern states, it is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. In Florida, the best production period is from October through March, as salsify will withstand frost.

Have you ventured into cooking salsify? This exquisite root vegetable is more popular in Europe than the United States so it might be challenging to find at the market. However, salsify is exciting to cook with and worth a trip to your local specialty shop.

photo by Beck/FlickrWhat does salsify taste like?Salsify is rich in umami and some liken its flavor to oysters. It may be roasted, boiled, sautéed, mashed or cubed and added to soups and stews.

Alternatively, you could boil the salsify until tender and the skin will rub off easily. You could then slice into rounds and sauté with butter and pepper for an easy yet delicious side dish.

In this creative recipe from Italian chef Moreno Cedroni salsify is used to create a sumptuous sauce to be served along amberjack fish, deer roe and Jerusalem artichoke.

Believe it or not, salsify makes a great gluten-free pasta. One of our favorite salsify recipes is salsify tagliatelle. It is easy to make: simply peel the salsify, shave into strips using a vegetable peeler, boil until tender then add to your favorite pasta sauce. Yum!

photo by June DarvilleIn this recipe from June Darville she dresses up oven roasted salsify with lemon and white wine, a classic combination that yields great results. Find this salsify recipe here.

You may be forgiven for averting your eyes when coming across salsify. It's a rather ugly root vegetable, grubby-looking with all that earth clinging to the skin. But during the winter months, salsify makes a welcome change from parsnips, sprouts and cabbages.

Salsify has a mild flavour which is easily enhanced by infusing with other ingredients. Try enhancing the method above by poaching the salsify in chicken stock or white wine. Adding aromatics such as a bay leaves, thyme or black peppercorns also adds depth of flavour.

The plant yields a bold purple flower head and a tiny fruit. The fruit of the salsify plant possesses one seed and is pale brown in color. In addition, salsify has a fleshy and brownish-yellow taproot that is long and cylindrical.

To cook salsify, you must first peel it. Cover the peeled roots in lemon juice or vinegar to avoid discoloration. You can then eat them raw or pair them with beef, pork, or chicken dish. Some people choose to puree salsify and use it to enrichen the flavor of various traditional dishes.

Raw salsify (vegetable oyster) is packed with nutrients that have numerous benefits to your body. It not only provides dietary fiber but is also rich in carbs that help you with energy to work and stay active throughout the day.

Kidneys play a crucial role in controlling the blood pressure in your body. One of the prominent health benefits of salsify is its ability to control blood pressure. Salsify contains a mix of dietary elements like potassium, calcium, and sodium.

When the equilibrium of sodium and potassium is disturbed in the body, blood pressure increases. Foods high in potassium and calcium, such as salsify, should be consumed to allow kidneys to function properly.

Like other nutrient-dense foods, salsify has a blend of essential minerals that boosts the immune system. Its roots have a high amount of vitamin C, which promotes the production of white blood cells. White blood cells then protect your body against viruses, fungi, and bacteria.

Salsify and scorzonera are cool-weather root crops. Salsify and scorzonera, are sometimes confused. The roots look very similar; salsify has a whitish root; scorzonera has a black root. The roots and leaves of salsify and scorzonera are edible.

Scorzonera and salsify are members of the dandelion tribe of the daisy family and the two are just about as easy to grow as dandelions. Salsify has almost grass-like leaves. Scorzonera has broad lily-of-the-valley-like leaves, The growing requirements of salsify and scorzonera are the same.

Regardless, salsify is a fairly easy weed to identify. It is a biennial (sometimes annual, sometimes perennial) plant that starts out as a rosette of gray-green leaves that are grass-like in appearance. Eventually a flower stalk emerges, adorned with more grass-like leaves, branching out to form around a half dozen flower heads. Salsify is in the aster family, in which flower heads typically consist of a tight grouping of disc and ray florets. In this case, only ray florets are produced. The florets are yellow or lemon-yellow, and each flower head sits atop a series of pointed bracts which encase the flower (and the forming seed head) when closed. Examining the length of the bracts is one way to tell T. dubius (bracts extend beyond the petals) from T. pratensis (bracts and petals are equal in length).

Salsify (approximately 120 days), is grown primarily for its root. It is also known as the Vegetable Oyster or Oyster Plant because of the root's oyster-like flavor. Its fleshy root resembles a slender parsnip. It is a hardy vegetable requiring a long (about 150 days) growing season. The tender, broad, grass-like leaves are also used as salad greens. Scorzonera (approximately 120 days), also called Black Salsify or Spanish Salsify, closely resembles salsify in root shape and internal root color, but is not closely related taxonomically. The root is black externally and the leaves spiny. The root is considered to be finer textured, and remains so further into the winter. The leaves are much broader or oblong, and can also be used as a salad green. The plant is more vigorous. Cultural practices for both vegetables are very similar.

Store roots at 32 F and 95 to 98% relative humidity. Topped salsify has the same storage requirements as topped carrots. High relative humidity is a must, since the long slender roots are highly sensitive to shriveling from moisture loss. Losses from shrivel can be minimized if perforated film crate liners are used. The roots are not injured by slight freezing. They should not be handled, or carefully handled while frozen. Under the conditions specified, they should keep for 2 to 4 months.

Scorzonera or black salsify has similar storage requirements. Extended storage is reported to be possible with storage in a controlled atmosphere of 3 percent oxygen and 3 percent carbon dioxide at 32 F.

T. pomfolius has a black or white root, similar to parsnips but skinnier, which can be peeled and then cut into rounds to be mashed or used in salads or soups. Greeks and Romans are said to have used this root as a medicinal to treat gall bladder and liver ailments. T. dubius Scop was introduced as a garden plant from Europe in the early 1900s. It is found in disturbed areas or abandoned fields and sometimes, when the canopy fails in a forest, it is found in the open spaces among trees. Western salsify is found more often in the West, but it has been reported in parts of most states including Pennsylvania.

Salsify has a couple of nicknames, including oyster plant and vegetable oyster, which provide clues to its flavor. But does it really taste like shellfish? That's a matter of some intense debate, but there is definitely a mineral quality to this vegetable that could be interpreted as coastal in flavor. Others claim that these roots taste more like artichoke, another vegetable found in the Asteraceae family. Eaters may also detect a hint of licorice as well. Raw or cooked, the overall taste of salsify is fairly mild.

This remarkable plant is completely edible so the greens can be eaten as well. Salsify leaves can be compared to spinach, and they would make a nice addition to a salad. Some think that the light section of the leaves tastes a bit like leeks, especially when sautéed. The vegetable's seeds and flowers can be eaten as well. It's unclear how tasty the seeds are, however. Like dandelions, the seeds of salsify attach themselves to the white fluffy plant material to help disperse them. 041b061a72


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