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What does Salsify REALLY taste like?

And what are it's cultural requirements? Is it easy to grow? Any salsifinos among us?

I'm thinking of trying it this year.

-nita
 
~Ever notice how God needed a rest after making Woman?
My MIL grows salsifies and we get to have them once a year at Christmas dinner. My DH's family is from Belgium and they are very popular there. They are deeeelicious!!!! They taste like nothing else I can think of. Very mild flavor. She puts them in a cream sauce flavored with lemon juice. Let's just say there are never any left in the bowl!

From what she's told me, they are a bit of a pain to prepare. I think the growing requirements are very similar to carrots. The kind she grows are white with a black skin. They are pitted, so it's a lot of work to get all the peel off and have anything left to cook! That said, she grows them every year, so I have to assume they are worth the trouble. I may try my hand at them next year. Good luck with them if you decide to try to grow them!
 
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I seem to remember dad growing them one year when I was in high school. I just remember them being skinnier than parsnips and tasting like dirt. I'm sure flavor varies according to preparation techniques. I think that like turnips, you either like the flavor or hate it.
 

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Bloom where you are planted.

Zone 4 Central South Dakota

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Thanks folks - I'll have to look up recipes later. I figured they'd need a loose and deep soil like any other root crops.

If I give it a try I'll post my results next winter. Apparently they need a long growing season.

-nita
 
~Ever notice how God needed a rest after making Woman?
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Buffie: I have never had them, but I have read descriptions of them being supposedly "oyster-like" in taste. Does that even come close to what you were describing?

I remember reading an interview with Jere Gettle (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) and he described them as an old-world crop, much more popular around the turn of the 20th century. He felt this crop should be grown more often!
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Zone 3 NW Wisconsin: Left the city in '98, hardly been back since!
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Well, Walleye - I'm not much help as I've never been able to bring myself to eat an oyster! I can say this though....they do seem to have a very 'earthy' flavor the way mushrooms do. I'm not a big vegetable lover - my tastes lean towards the plain and ordinary. And I love salsifies. To be honest, I've never eaten them steamed with minimal seasoning (which would bring out the true flavor I'm guessing) - only with my MIL's cream sauce. Apparently that's the way it's served in their home country.

All I really know about them is that you grow them like carrots, peel them like carrots, although I think the skin is a little thicker than the skin on a carrot. They are white with black skins (but I think I remember reading that there are different varieties that are different colors too). I definitely think you should give them a try. For the price of a package of seeds you can have something different on the table for Christmas dinner!! Smiler If you're interested in more growing and harvesting details, let me know and I'll ask my MIL. She's in her 70's and has grown them all her life.
 
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I am going to try growing salsify this year. I ordered some seeds in my pinetree seed order.

I love raw oysters and all the flavor descriptions I have read, give this as a taste comparison.

I decided I just have to see for myself.

Anyone else growing?

I did a forum search and found several references. Gotta go read them.
 
MARYLAND zone 6
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Start salsify as early as you can work the soil. Yes, a loose soil that is deeply prepared is best. I don't give mine any fertilizer. But if you worked compost or manure in a couple of years before hand, that is good.

The flavor reminds me slightly of a parsnip, but not as sweet.

Caution, they do cause gas after eating!
 
http://littlehomesteadonthehill.blogspot.com/
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I also grew it last year and will grow it again this year. Remember the little bed I made with sifted soil? Well I planted them there with the carrots because they grow long like carrots and can be deformed by rocks. I think that they are 100 days to maturity so they will be in the ground until Fall. Rabbits ate the tops but they grew back when I fenced them and were OK. They look like white carrots but hairy.

DH loves it and asked for soup. I prepared it by peeling the salsify (easy as carrots)and cutting into little coins. He swears that it tasted just like Oyster stew but I think that it just tasted like a good little root veggie and better than parsnips. I think that the oyster flavor is mostly from eating a milky/buttery soup and the person "thinks" that it tastes like oysters because oyster stew is full of cream and butter. I don't like oysters and I liked the soup.

I didn't grown many last year, only 2 short rows, because I didn't know if I would like it but this year I will grow lots more. I think that it would be good roasted or sauteed and hubby wants more soup.
 

 Zone 7b  Southeastern PA

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I see salsfy as weeds often, and have always been tempted to try them. When is a good time to harvest? Does the root get too fibrous when it blooms?
 
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So Rexx,

The oyster flavor will just be in my mind? Works for me!
 
MARYLAND zone 6
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Yes, they really didn't taste like oysters to me but the milk/butter tasted good. The first time I made it I thought that it was too salty so I adjusted that. Maybe the salt is supposed to make it taste more "oystery".

My plants didn't bloom so I can't answer the toughness question but I would imagine that they would be tougher and less flavorfull like a carrot that has bloomed.

Plant in the Spring, harvest in the Fall.
 

 Zone 7b  Southeastern PA

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I wonder if they are a bi-annual plant like carrots? Blooming on the second year. I had a friend who replanted his grown carrots one year to see the flower. He got lots of seed, but the root was not for eating then.

mk
 
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Yes, I think that they are biennials.

We went to the PA Farm Show today and I saw the award winning salsify and mine looked just as good. I had thought that it was kind of skinny but DH said that it doesn't get as fat as carrots and that mine was really nice. The first prize entry at the show confirmed that.

I liked it better than parsnips also because it does not get that hard core at the center and we could eat the whole thing.

Lisaaan - as I recall, they were also slow to germinate so don't give up if it takes 2-3 weeks.
 

 Zone 7b  Southeastern PA

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I've never grown it, but bought & cooked it up once. Couldn't detect any sort of "oyster" flavor. It was simply a mild-flavored root veggie. Nothing spectacular either way.
 

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"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

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"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

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Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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Yep, biennial and they produce a lot of seeds. The flowers are really pretty too. Sort of a blue daisy-like flower.
 
http://littlehomesteadonthehill.blogspot.com/
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In timely fashion, last week's Washington Post "Living" section had regular weekly garden columnist Barbara Damrosch (wife of Eliot Coleman), devoting her column to salsify:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...IQAxL6GaP_story.html
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"My body is a temple - unfortunately, it's a fixer-upper."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"And no, I'm NOT being snarky."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zone 7a, Culpeper, Virginia

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Good article. Another strange fact is that it does not "brown" when exposed to air. Instead , it turns a light purple. Weird stuff. Browning it in butter like in the article sounds good. I'll try that next Fall.
 

 Zone 7b  Southeastern PA

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These come up in my garden like weeds. I guess I really ought to try eating them.

--J--
 
You should always have a plant B.
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buffalogal - how about your MIL's recipe?
 
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