Black salsify: winter asparagus is so healthy!

Black salsify owes its name to its dark color. When peeled, however, it looks more like white  asparagus  and is therefore also referred to as “winter asparagus” or “little man’s asparagus” because of its taste. While it was still seen as a medicinal plant in the Middle Ages, it found its way into domestic cooking pots from the 16th century. Today, due to its insensitivity to frost, it is an integral part of many dishes, especially during the cold season. But how healthy are salsify, do they really contain as few calories as is often claimed, and how should you prepare them?

Nutritional values: how healthy are salsify?

Black salsify contains significantly more calories than many older sources state. There is often talk of around 15 kilocalories (kcal) per 100 grams. Since 2008, however, the dietary fiber content has been included in the calculation of the kilocalories, resulting in an increase to  54 kilocalories  or 226 kilojoules (kJ) for salsify.

Black salsify has a remarkably  high proportion of fiber  (17 grams per 100 grams). However, salsify is not a calorie bomb. In addition, the high proportion of dietary fiber has a positive effect on digestion and ensures that the feeling of satiety after a meal lasts longer.

Black salsify also has a lot to offer  in terms of  vitamins  : in addition to vitamins C  and A and vitamins B1 and B2, black salsify has a particularly large amount of vitamin E. This has  an antioxidant effect  and thus protects the cells from harmful oxygen compounds.

Black salsify also scores with many  minerals.  For example, the high potassium content of salsify is remarkable. Potassium  affects the function of muscles, nerves and cells in the body, which, for example, also has a positive effect on the heart muscle and thus the heart rhythm.

Black salsify also contains a high proportion of manganese. The  trace element  is important for the function of the liver and thus contributes to detoxification of the body. So the nutritional value of salsify is high.

Which is healthier, black salsify or asparagus?

There is no general answer as to whether salsify is healthier than the more well-known asparagus. Although black salsify contains significantly more  fiber  (1.3 grams per 100 grams of asparagus, 17 grams per 100 grams of black salsify), asparagus contains five times as much vitamin C. Both types of vegetables have a draining effect. In this respect, both types of vegetables are healthy, but in different ways.

Things to know about consumption

Black salsify is often eaten boiled or fried. You can also  eat salsify raw.  The root vegetables cut a fine figure  in salads, as raw vegetables with a dip or on  bread . Even if only the roots are usually available in the supermarket or on the market, the flowers, leaf stalks and buds are also suitable for consumption.

However, caution is advised if you have a sensitive stomach: salsify can  cause flatulence  .  This is due to the dietary fiber inulin, which is found in high amounts in salsify. This stimulates the activity of the intestinal bacteria, which leads to flatulence if consumed excessively. In rare cases, consumption can also  cause diarrhea  .

Prepare salsify

If you want to prepare salsify, you should first wash them thoroughly and clean them with a brush if necessary. The black skin can then be removed with a knife or vegetable peeler. When you peel the black salsify, a thick, milky  juice escapes  . This can quickly stain fingers and is difficult to remove from kitchen utensils. Disposable gloves protect hands from plant sap. Rub the knife and vegetable peeler with oil before rinsing to help remove residues more easily.

Once the sticks have been peeled, they should be placed directly in vinegar water, otherwise the white root vegetables will quickly turn brown. They can then be eaten raw or boiled in salted water with a little vinegar and butter for about half an hour.

Black salsify can also be fried. To do this, simply cut the peeled sticks into slices and   prepare them in the pan like fried potatoes with a little fat, salt and pepper.

Black salsify from the jar

Jar of black salsify is a popular choice when fresh or frozen root vegetables are not available. The disadvantage: In order to ensure the shelf life, vegetables from the jar or can must be heated at least twice. The salsify loses up to 50 percent of the vitamins it contains. In addition, it is already salted, which must be taken into account when preparing the salsify.

purchasing and storage

If you want to buy fresh black salsify, you should make sure that they are not damaged, such as cracks or cuts. Otherwise they will dry out faster.

Ideally, you should store salsify without leaves in the basement, in a bucket with damp sand. This keeps the root vegetables fresh for up to five months over the winter. Black salsify wrapped in damp kitchen paper can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week.

If you want  to freeze black salsifies,  you should first blanch them in boiling salted water for about two minutes. After quenching, the vegetables should be dried well. Then you can freeze it.

Black salsify recipe

Black salsify has a milder, slightly nutty flavor compared to asparagus   . They are an ideal side dish, but they also taste good in salads and soups, for example. It also   makes a good combination with rice . The recipe below is therefore very popular when preparing salsify.

Black salsify risotto:

  • 400 grams of salsify
  • 100 milliliters of white wine
  • 500 milliliters vegetable broth
  • onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 dash of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons grated  parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 130 grams of risotto rice
  • Salt pepper

 Finely dice the onion and  garlic and sauté in a pan with the olive oil until translucent. Add the risotto rice, deglaze with wine and let it boil away. Add the vegetable broth until the rice is just covered. Simmer gently at low temperature for about 40 minutes. Stir regularly.

Wash the salsify, peel and cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook in a saucepan with salted water and vinegar.
Add the black salsify pieces to the finished rice together with the parmesan and butter and season with salt and pepper.

Grow salsify

Black salsify seeds can be planted in loosened soil in February or March. Black salsify is quite easy to care for. It is sufficient to water the plants regularly and to fertilize them at longer intervals.

Black salsify is  in season in winter:  When the green leaves of the black salsify have withered in autumn, the roots can be pulled out of the ground with a spade. The harvest time runs from October through the entire winter months.

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