View Full Version : "Whats the smell of parsnips?"

24th Dec 2012, 13:42
...with apologies to Dylan Thomas.

I put a brief question on Black Five's Oldies thread, but I guess this serious question needs more exposure and input in true JB style.


The problem is that parsnips seem to be developing a strong and offensive odour. In past years they have sat quietly on the shelves, minding their own business, and I have picked them up, put them in the veg rack, and consumed them over two or three days. But recently I've had probs, initially with bagged parsnips. Open the bag and phew, the smell is completely overpowering. Smell of? Well paraffin is the nearest I can get and that's not even close. The last lot I was careful to buy loose, but they are nearly as bad, possibly they may have been debagged from a batch stockpiled up to the holiday.

There's not a lot on google, I went for 'smelly parsnips' and there was some mention but no real explanation. Seems that folk blame Spanish parsnips, though whether that is the genus, or the fertiliser, or perhaps a travel preservative is not mentioned.

So what's the cause? Does it afflict Spanish parsnips bought in Spain, or is it only the exported version? What is the safe life? Are these real parsnips or some genetically modified mangold wurzel? I think we ought to be told, so let's get the assembled brains of JB working on this...

Milo Minderbinder
24th Dec 2012, 14:16
Parsnips do give off a distinctive odour, some people seem more sensitive to it than others.
The fact that you are beginning to notice it more MAY mean that you are developing parsnip sensitvity. In some people contact with parsnips - or even with the odour - can produce a highly irritant photoesentive rash. Its a similar kind of reaction as you can get with Giant Hogweed.
My father developed an allergy to them in his sixties, despite years of gardening. Wild parsnips are well know as a hazard in meadows to people and animals.

It may be worth you taking precautions while handling or preparing parsnips - long plastic gloves or similar.
The good thing is that cooking seems to destroy the toxin which causes the problem.

24th Dec 2012, 14:51
Believe the after effects of asparagus has a more noxious odour! Ew! I don't care for parsnips, never knew it takes ages for them to boil as they're so hard.:O

wings folded
24th Dec 2012, 14:57
The sap of wild parsnips can give vicious chemical burns. I had burns which only healed after 2 months last summer.

I do rather like eating them, though. Cooked, they are no trouble. Parsnip chips are really rather yummy with a soothing aperitif.

24th Dec 2012, 15:06
So why are mine always so hard?

24th Dec 2012, 15:28
Why don't you first par boil them and then roast in butter.You will find that they will not be hard and they will definitely taste better.You can also coat them with honey before roasting.

24th Dec 2012, 15:29
Probably need another four weeks at gas mark five ;)

24th Dec 2012, 15:33
Ils, thank you. I did that last year and they still came out hard. Didn't know you had to boil them to buggery. Not a vegetable for me......am more your butternut squash roasted in olive oil with shallots, sweet potato and garlic person me.....

24th Dec 2012, 15:39
AlpineSkier, noted. But I'm talking about a vegetable here. Normally flame mine soft.

24th Dec 2012, 15:49
Put it down to time of the year for Parsnips Nose

24th Dec 2012, 15:55
I like parsnips and cook them regularly but have never put one in boiling water yet. Peel them, quarter them, remove the woody triangle bit from each quarter, sprinkle with pepper then into the oven at 200 in some hot fat (beef, pork, lamb, whatever) for 20 minutes or so. Nice and soft and delicious. (Alternate is marinate them in lemon juice/butter/pepper for a few hours then microwave them for 5 minutes).

24th Dec 2012, 16:17
I peel them and cut up fairly small, and boil. When soft, mash with a little butter and lots of horseradish sauce. Not that I have them that often, but like that, they go well with roast beef.

24th Dec 2012, 17:08
A parsnip fart actually smells better than a cooked parsnip, so be patient and you and your family will be rewarded (please do not smoke or keep an open flame)

flying lid
24th Dec 2012, 17:53
Parsnip Farts ?

NOTHING beats Martians Bollocks (Brussels Sprouts)

Merry Farting everyone !!!!!!!!!!


24th Dec 2012, 18:15
Kids were going into town earlier so we had a quick check to see if anything extra was required*. Anyway it was thought that whilst we had enough Brussels Sprouts for dinner tomorrow we might need extra for the Boxing Day bubble-and-squeak (the best meal of Xmas IMNSHP) so I asked the kids to bring back some, 1/2 lb, maybe 1 lb. So the kids came back with 1 1/2 kilos of the things. 3 1/3 lb. Thats the sort of safety margin my dad used to use in his engineering calculations.

Sometimes I feel sympathy for Con in his campaign to remove them from the face of the Earth.

(* And, in my opinion, the strain resulting from attempting to get anything else, for instance a matchbox, into the house could well cause it to fail at the joints).

25th Dec 2012, 12:39
Many thanks all, for your kind replies.

After throwing out the first, extremely smelly, parsnip, I am well into the second one, three meals so far, with no odour, no ill effects, and cooking well at fifteen minutes in boiling water.

So either it's from a different batch or else there's something extremely funny happened to the first one, like it's been logged into pprune?

25th Dec 2012, 21:29
I ended up with butternut squash....

25th Dec 2012, 22:40
I ended up with butternut squash....

You should be more careful where you sit then.

tony draper
25th Dec 2012, 22:42
There were roast Parsnips on our table today,they were untouched by me,I shall go to my reward never tasting another parsnip,roast or otherwise,how anybody can condemn spouts in a universe where parsnips exist is beyond me.

25th Dec 2012, 23:12
Persia - as Mads Dad has said, be sure to take out the woody core of the parsnip, after that roast in oil or butter, 25 to 30 minutes.

Alternativly, remove core, chop to approx. one inch cubes, boil until soft then mash with butter and pepper.

Clare Prop
26th Dec 2012, 12:34
mmm Parsnips. Deep fried like chips or boiled and mashed with spuds, carrots and lots of butter. :ok:

One thing I know from my veg packing days, the worst ones get bagged, always buy loose and wash well! It's also possible there was some wild garlic where it was growing and the parsnips got tainted. Happens to cows milk as well.

Brussels Sprouts are an abomination, as is all green food! :yuk::yuk::yuk::yuk::yuk::yuk::yuk::yuk::yuk:POISON !!!:yuk:

26th Dec 2012, 13:40
It's not the smell of them I object to, it's the sound they make. I prefer a quiet vegetable, like the kohl rabi.

26th Dec 2012, 15:23
One thing I know from my veg packing days, the worst ones get bagged, always buy loose and wash well!

:D :D :D

Thanks Clare !!! Nice to have a professional opinion !!!

wings folded
26th Dec 2012, 15:42
It's been a while since I stirred up con pilot, and this seems like a good moment.

Brussel sprouts

Only buy them after the first frosts. Buy them from a local producer; never from a supermarket. Choose small ones.. Peel off the first two layers of leaf. Remove the hard stalk, and make a cross cut in the heel of the beastie. Boil for a few minutes in a large pan, drain and reboil till they are done. While all of that is going on, stew some red onions with bacon shreds (known as lardons to some, smoked is even better).

Whack all of it into a frying pan with a large knob of butter, and warm until the butter melts. A degree of salt and a stupid amount of pepper is called for.

The taste is fine, delicate; the dreaded aftermath flatulence is not a factor, and according to those who waste their lives following such issues, there are antioxydant, or soemething like that, properties which are, it would seem, good for you.

Couldn't give a shit about the latter, they just taste good done this way.

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