18 June 2011, by gj
How to grow what?
It was the name of this veggie that first caught our attention while thumbing through seed catalogs. It was also the description of its flavor; it was compared to artichokes and oysters, an odd combination.
Wanting to know more we did a little research:
1. It’s a member of the sunflower family
2. You eat the roots, but you can also eat the pretty little flowers
3. It can be difficult to dig up, so it’s best planted in a pot. This, naturally, we discovered after we had planted it in the ground and it was already well established.
4. It’s often referred to as ‘black salsify’.
5. It takes either 80 days or 8 months to grow- here’s why:
The seed packets and catalogs will indicate you should plant scorzonera in the early spring for a summer harvest, or late July (zone 5/6) for a fall harvest.
We’ve also read it grows similar to parsnips, both like cool weather better.
Parsnips can be wintered over and the flavor will be improved that way, the same is true of scorzonera. So late in the summer you can plant seeds of parsnips and scorzonera in adjacent rows and wait.
What was interesting to note was how each flowered the second summer, the scorzonera produced pretty little yellow flowers and the parsnips something akin to Queen’s Anne’s Lace.
They did dig up easily, so we washed them on the rinse cycle in the dishwasher, and began to trim and peel.
After waiting all this time they better be worth it!
There are a number of ways to prepare scorzonera, we used this recipe but wrapped them in prosciutto.
They were served at SaveTheWorld’s Graduation Party.
The consensus was a thumb’s up, with the larger root-to-meat ratio preferred so the flavor of the veggie stood out better.
Definitely worth planting again, but we will use a whiskey barrel this time; partly because that will free up some garden space, but mainly because the flowers looked so darn pretty they deserve to be shown off.
Botanical name: Scorzonera hispanica
Yield: 1 root per seed
Days to maturity: 80
Harvest: After a frost, or overwinter.
Storage: Holds in cold storage, so I’ve heard; we ate them all the first day