I love parsnips - they're one of those few veg I can virtually ignore from the day I sow the seeds to the day I dig them up, and still get a reliable crop every time. We grow 'white gem', sprinkling a few seeds every six inches or so in April, then as long as I remember to thin them to one plant per station at seedling stage, they get along just fine by themselves for the next eight to ten months. A few low-maintenance back-ups like this somehow help make up for the failures and the fussier, tricksier crops I struggle with sometimes!
We usually leave our parsnips in the ground over winter, where they keep just fine, but of course we can't get to them when the ground's frozen hard or covered in several inches of snow, so we usually don't get to eat them until the spring, when we have to catch them before they put on too much new growth and start getting woody. This year I thought it was time to try storing them at home.
Here they are - all six kilos! A variety of sizes but all useful and all healthy. It's important to leave them in the ground until the first few frosts, as it's the cold that makes them take on their sweetness.
Parsnips need humidity and cold to store well - ideally temperatures 0C-4C. I've read that you should be able to store them in the bottom of the fridge for up to six months, but this has never worked for me, and I don't like the idea of blanching and freezing them. So the only other thing to do is store them in soil (or sand, or coir, of leafmould) in a cold place, just as if they were still in the ground. I've packed ours into a box of soil, covered them over and put them in the shed to keep them from freezing - and I must remember to check the mice haven't got in every once in a while!
Here's looking forward to lots of parsnip bread, parsnip soup, and roasted parsnips on Christmas day! And I'll be sending a photo of some choice specimens for Matron's Christmas veggie blog post too.