What is salsify, and why you should grow it. Cathy Isom explains this and more. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.
Imagine a parsnip and a dandelion root had a baby that looked like a brown stick. That’s salsify. Unlike beets, sweet potatoes, onions, and parsnips, salsify is a lesser-known root vegetable. It shouldn’t be – it’s totally worth growing.
Sometimes called oyster plant because of its vaguely seafood-like flavor, salsify is a long, slender taproot with white, creamy flesh. It has lovely purple edible flowers. It’s versatile and tasty and lends itself to soups and stews, and can be mashed like a potato with butter and cream.
Like most root vegetables, it’s a reliable crop, although you have to have some patience to make it happen. Salsify comes in two types: black and white. Black salsify has smooth, nearly black skin. White salsify has textured brown or tan skin. The two most common varieties are Sandwich Island and Giant Russian. Sandwich Island looks like white carrots with long, terpered taproots. While the Giant Russian is long and narrow. The skin is black, but underneath, the flesh is white and creamy.
To grow it, plant ten salsify per person in your household. This ensures a consistent supply throughout the season. Salsify is a cool weather plant, so if the sun is too harsh where you live, consider a shade cloth or planting partial sun. In cooler areas, full sun is ideal. Salsify is ready for harvest when it’s about 12 inches in length. This can be anywhere between 120 and 150 days depending on the variety.
I’m Cathy Isom…