18 June 2011, by gj
How to grow what?
I don’t remember how I first heard of this interesting root veggie, most likely it was the name that caught my eye while thumbing through a seed catalog.
It could also be the description of its flavor- it was compared to artichokes and oysters, an odd combination.
I like to grow and taste new things, so I did a little research.
This is what I found out:
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, I discovered after I had planted it in the ground and it was already well established)
4. It’s often spoken of in the same breath as salsify
5. It takes either 80 days or 8 months to grow- I’ll explain
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.
I’ve also read it grows similar to parsnips- both like cool weather better.
Now I know that parsnips can be wintered over and the flavor will be improved that way, and I found out the same is true of scorzonera- so late last summer I planted seeds of parsnips and scorzonera in adjacent rows and waited.
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 (same family).
Yesterday, I dug them up easily, washed them on the rinse cycle in the dishwasher, and began to trim and peel.
After waiting all this time I decided they better be worth it if I was to plant them again.
There are a number of ways to prepare scorzonera, I used this recipe but wrapped them in prosciutto.
I wanted to try this new veggie when we had the family around, so 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 I think I 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
Storage: Holds in cold storage, so I’ve heard- we ate them all the first day