Europeans brought the parsnip to the United States in the early 1600s but this creamy-white root has never become an American favorite. The first frost of the year converts the parsnip's starch to sugar and gives it a pleasantly sweet flavor. Fresh parsnips are available year-round with the peak period during fall and winter. Look for small to medium, well-shaped roots; avoid limp, shriveled or spotted parsnips.They can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks. Parsnips are suitable for almost any method of cooking including baking, boiling, sautéing and steaming. They're often boiled, then mashed like potatoes. Parsnips contain small amounts of iron and vitamin C.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.