This has a been a great year for parsnips, not just for me but for others growing in South Cambs. I have had a crop of large well flavoured roots with little rust or other blemishes.
Homemade Parsnip Wine
The flavour has been so good in fact that I have taken some for making parsnip wine. Today I simmered a pot of scrubbed and cut up pieces, 4-5lbs in weight, slowly until tender (but not broken up), before straining and then dissolving 3lbs of sugar in the liquor. Later when this cools I will pour into a demijohn and add a teaspoon of wine yeast. It really is a simple wine to make and I find the results are always good. After three months or so in the demijohn the wine will be siphoned into bottles and left to stand for a year – it’s a slow maturing wine but well worth the wait.
I sow my parsnip seed towards the end of February in a bed dug the previous Autumn – so all I have to do is loosen the soil a bit with a hoe. I set the seed in rows about 18 inches apart and sow liberally – parsnip can be difficult to germinate – and make sure to thin out in the spring when the shoots are well established. Then it’s a question of keeping the weeds down and waiting. I generally don’t harvest until after christmas and a few heavy frosts, which produce a better flavour. For the last few years I have sown Gladiator with excellent results – it’s a good idea to get a variety which is rust-resistant, but much depends on the soil conditions in which they are grown.