Black salsify

by , under food, recipes

Many people don’t eat black salsify, yummy though it is, because even if they can get it (it’s rather an uncommon vegetable) they think it’s daunting. Well, mine were daunting: they were over a foot and a half long. You’ll need slightly under a pound for 2 people: 3 of my giants or about 5 of a more usual size.

The problem with salsify is that the roots contain sap that STICKS TO YOUR HANDS LIKE SUPERGLUE. To partially prevent this, oil your hands with some sort of vegetable oil as if you’re putting on hand cream before handling them, but even if you remember to do that you’ll still stick to yourself and your utensils and the salsify roots and the towel if you try to peel them raw. Many websites say the skin is edible, but I don’t find it tasty. If you can work with gloves on, that works too, but your gloves will probably be ruined.

The most painless procedure is to cut the roots into pieces short enough to fit your pan, discard any woody ends, wash the pieces, and boil them in water for about 10 minutes. Drain, and fill the pan with cold water so you can fish the pieces of root out. Scrape off the black skin with a small rigid knife or force it off with your fingers, whichever you find easiest. You can leave the little “freckles” (places where the root was trying to sprout rootlets) on, or tease them off with the tip of the knife. Rinse and cut to a convenient size for eating.

Melt a generous amount of butter and put the salsify in before the butter browns. Add a splash of water and optionally a little salt and cook for another 15 minutes or so; they’re at their best well done. Add more water as necessary.

Eat as part of an autumny meal– we had boiled potatoes and black pudding fried in duck fat with pieces of tart apple.

Is this a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

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