Thursday 14 January 2010

Do parsnips taste sweeter after the first frost?

Do parsnips taste sweeter after the first frost? I say it’s a no-brainer. Picked before the first frost, parsnips smell of soap when you cook them and taste a bit like banana Angel Delight. Wait until they’ve had a chance to freeze in the ground and that’s when you get that sweet nutty taste. Apparently, freezing the parsnips causes the starchy walls to expand and release sugars … or is it just that they taste better for having been left for longer in the ground?.
What this means is that I spend late autumn in a frustrating waiting game. I can see that the parsnips are maturing, I can see that there are some broad shoulders lurking below the soil surface and all I need to do is to wait until we’ve had a frosty night before I start digging them up.
Once or twice in recent years we’ve missed having roast parsnips with the Christmas lunch because of the mild weather, so this year it seemed perfect when the frost, snow and ice appeared at the start of Christmas week. I was fully expecting a thaw within 24 hours as is the norm in London … and the ground has remained frozen solid ever since. I’m now hoping for our first parsnips this weekend since our temperature is due to struggle up to 4 degrees by this Friday.