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Preparation: Step-by-Step

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Wash hands. Thoroughly scrub parsnips with a brush
to remove dirt and sand on the outer layer.
If desired, peel with a vegetable peeler or knife.

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Hold the parsnip to cut in half lengthwise. If roasting or
boiling, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks.

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To slice for sautéing, set the flat side down on the
cutting board and cut in half again. If the parsnip is large,
remove the woody center.

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If the parsnip is long, cut in half, then slice into 1/4-inch
thick strips. Sauté in a pan with butter and seasonings.
Cooking brings out the natural sweetness of parsnips.


  • Many parts of Montana may not have a long enough growing season between frosts to grow a decent parsnip. Plant seeds as soon as you can work the soil. Sow 1/2-inch deep, spaced 3-4 inches apart, and in rows 18 inches apart. Water 1-2 inches per week. Parsnips prefer cooler temperatures. 

    For more growing information, look for the MSU Extension MontGuide: Planting a Successful Home Vegetable Garden,  or contact your local MSU Extension office.


  • Parsnip is considered a winter vegetable because its flavor is not fully developed until the roots have been exposed to near-freezing temperatures for 2-4 weeks in the fall and early winter. The root should be well-developed after being in the ground for around four months. Many gardeners leave parsnips in the ground over the winter and harvest in the spring.
  • When storing parsnips, remove leaves and refrigerate parsnips unwashed in an unsealed bag for three weeks or more. Parsnips keep best in a perforated bag in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator.
  • Store in the refrigerator, wrapped in a perforated plastic bag. Perforations in the bag allow excess moisture to escape. Avoid storing grapes next to strong-smelling food, such as green onions or leeks.
  • Most vegetables are rich in fiber and phytochemicals, but provide negligible amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium and are gluten-free. Parsnips are rich in Vitamin C, folate, potassium and magnesium and they have 55 calories per half-cup serving.


  • Use grated parsnips in place of cabbage in a favorite coleslaw recipe.


  • Place whole or cut parsnips in a baking dish with a cover. Cook 20-30 minutes in 350°F degree oven.

Boil or Steamed.

  • Place trimmed, well-scrubbed parsnips in a steamer or pan of boiling water. Steam or boil about 12-15 minutes or until tender. Combine with mashed potatoes to enhance flavor and add fiber or eat mashed on their own.


  • Cut parsnips into 1- to 1½-inch chunks and place them in a microwavable dish with two tablespoons of liquid. Cover with a lid or vented plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4-6 minutes or until tender.


  • Heat pan to high, add butter or oil to coat bottom of pan, then add chopped 1/2- to 1-inch pieces of parsnips. Stir parsnips for even browning. Sauté about 12-15 minutes or until tender.


  • To enhance the flavor of parsnips, use ginger, mace, nutmeg and/or cinnamon.



For More Information:
Montana State University Extension:
MSU Extension Master Gardener:
MSU Extension Food and Nutrition:
MSU Extension Nutrition Education Programs:


Date of Publication: January 2014

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