Parsnip oil is made from the seeds, and regularly used in flavours.
ABOUT THE PLAN: It is the parsnip’s root, resembling an ivory-coloured carrot, that is eaten. Parsnips were grown by the ancient Romans, though Pliny complained that it was impossible to attenuate their strong flavour. According to Pliny, Parsnips were held in such repute by the Emperor Tiberius that he had them annually brought to Rome from the banks of the Rhine.
Europeans brought the parsnip to the United States in the early 1600s but this creamy-white root has remained an underappreciated vegetable at best.
Parsnips are typically an autumn and winter vegetable and are not usually eaten until after they have been exposed to frost, when they become sweeter. Tournefort wrote in The Compleat Herbal in 1730 that parsnips “are not so good in any respect, till they have been first nipt with Cold. It is likewise pretty common of late to eat them with salt-fish mixed with hard-boiled eggs and butter… and much the wholesomer if you eat [them] with mustard.”
BOTANICAL FILE: The parsnip has a tough tapering beigish-white root. Its stem can reach 60 cm or more in length and produces leaf stalks that bear several pairs of leaflets. The plant bears yellow umbelliferous flowers.
MEDICINAL FILE: The seeds produce an oil that was traditionally used to cure fever.