Parsnips growning at Redhall Walled Garden

Parsnips are a great winter crop. Some people claim they taste better after a touch of frost. Parsnips are a ‘long season crop’. If you want to have home grown roast parsnips on Christmas day you need to plan well in advance. I usually sow my parsnips in April.

How to cook parsnips

Parsnips are great roasted. However they can be cooked in a number of other ways. They can be added to chunky stews and casseroles. I also like simmering them with other root veg such as potatoes, carrots, turnip and swede and pureeing them with butter and black pepper to make a delicious multi-veg mash.

Another good recipe is Jane Grigson’s classic curried parsnip soup. In this recipe finely chopped parsnips are sautéed with onions and garlic and ground spices such as cumin, coriander, chilli, turmeric, ginger and garam masala. When the vegetables are soft add stock and simmer for half an hour. Finally blend the soup and serve with a dollop of yogurt.

I have also been experimenting recently with a recipe known as parsnip Laktes. These are like little crispy potato and parsnip patties. You need to grate 1 large potato (squeeze the water out of this with a tea towel), a large parsnip and finely chop a small onion or a bunch of chives. Mix the veg together with herbs and spices of your choice then add 2 beaten eggs and 2 tablespoons of plain flour. Shallow fry tablespoon sized portions of the mixture in hot oil. Press them down with a spatula as they cook to create thin patties. Flip the patties over occasionally until they are well browned on both sides. Eat immediately.

Growing Parsnips

  • Parsnips grow best in sandy soil.
  • Sow the seed in rows 30cm apart in April.
  • Once the plants are established thin out the seedlings to 15cm apart within the rows.
  • Keep weed free and water well in dry spells to prevent the roots form forking.
  • Parsnip can be harvested when the leaves start to die back.
  • In light soils parsnips can be left in the ground over winter and lifted when required.

Top tip

Parsnips are notoriously slow to germinate. It is possible to grow a ‘catch crop’ of radishes between the rows of parsnips. The radishes will be ready to harvest long before the parsnips are mature.


Small parsnip seedlings between radishes sown at the same time. Radishes are ready to harvest.