18. December 2018

What is black salsify and how do I use it?

These black and gangly roots might not look like it, but they really are a delicacy. I love eating my black salsify lightly boiled with some butter and a few drops of lemon juice. Yum!

En köksträdgård på hösten med gröna blad som sticker upp ur en bädd. Black salsify leaves in the bed.

This is what the growing black salsify looks like. The leaves are thin and green (in the middle of the picture.) I have four rows of black salsify in this bed.

 

It seems like a lot of people don't know about black salsify. It's one of those vegetables that you just pass by in the grocery store without giving it a second thought. And those of you who do might get discouraged and think that these roots require a lot of work to taste good.

 

Fyra vita delar av en långsmal rot ligger på ett turkost keramikfat. Four white black salsify root pieces on a plate.

This is what the black salsify looks like when it's peeled and prepared for cooking. A thin white and crispy root.

 

Black salsify

Black salsify is a root vegetable. One single seed produces a long (often longer than a foot), thin root with green pointed leaves. It's black on the outside but the inside is creamy white. You cook it peeled. Some people don't like cooking salsify since the root sometimes releases a lot of sticky sap when you peel it. I have found that black salsify from the grocery store releases much more sap than my homegrown roots do.

The black salsify root can look almost yellow or brown after you peel it. Put the peeled roots in a tub of water, perhaps with a splash of lemon juice too. This usually solves the problem.

 

Read more about black salsify: Growing vegetables in winter

 

Ett knippe med svarta rötter ligger på en sten. Black salsify on a rock.

The long roots develop better in deep soil with no rocks or obstacles that might disrupt the growth. They can grow very long.

 

Nice and mild taste

Black salsify tastes nice and mild, quite similar to artichokes if eaten with butter. Taste-wise, it's not as distinct as parsnip or celeriac. It's much more subtle and you can use it in many different types of dishes.

Some people feel that black salsify causes stomach issues. If this happens to you, solve the problem by boiling the roots for a few minutes, change the water after a while and keep boiling  (or keep cooking the roots in some other way).

 

 

How to cook with black salsify

Use the black salsify like you would use potatoes in your cooking. It's a wonderful replacement to the popular tuber! Eat it boiled, in a gratin or soup, fried or oven-baked. Black salsify is sadly quite expensive to buy in the store. One single pack of salsify only contains a few roots so you would need to buy several in order to get enough. Last time I saw salsify in the store, five roots cost almost 3 dollars (25 Swedish crowns.) Why pay this much for so little when you could easily grow your own salsify instead?

 

Sara håller ett stort knippe svartrötter i handen. Sara holding a bunch of black salsify roots in her hands.

The long roots might break when you remove them from the soil, and the broken pieces will produce new plants. Try to get all of the roots out of the ground so you don't get stray plants growing everywhere.

 

Black salsify is one of the most important root vegetables in my garden. It's generally quite easy to grow, but it does have some special demands. And it's always a bit of a challenge to leave it alone in fall. It looks so nice that time of year, but I want to wait until spring when there are no other fresh root vegetables around. It's a test of my patience for sure. Usually, it works just fine. But sometimes, I just have to harvest a few of them to show you here on the blog of course. And then I obviously have to eat them afterwards. Simply boil them in salted water and serve them with butter and a few drops of lemon on top. That's all you need, yum! I decided to stir-fry these roots and I served them with moose patties and a fresh cabbage salad. Delicious!
/Sara Bäckmo

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