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With falling temperatures, the appetite for hearty root vegetables grows. Colorful carrots, hearty parsnips and spicy root parsley offer a welcome change in the menu. In autumn and winter, the main season for fresh root vegetables from German outdoor cultivation.
The most important root vegetable is undoubtedly the carrot, which was produced in 2017 on 12,545 hectares in Germany, according to the Federal Information Center for Agriculture (BZL). This means that the acreage increased by 1,336 hectares compared to the previous year. Most carrots grow in fields in North Rhine-Westphalia, followed by Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein and Baden-Württemberg, which together account for almost 85 percent of the cultivated area.
Orange-colored carrots make up the largest market share, but in recent years new attractive varieties with white, yellow, red or purple beet color and two-color varieties have been added. The carotenoids are responsible for the coloring. These so-called phytochemicals also act as antioxidants and can protect our cells from damage. Carotenoids are therefore considered a protective factor against certain types of cancer as well as heart and vascular diseases. Orange varieties mainly contain beta-carotene, red varieties lycopene, yellow varieties lutein and violet varieties anthocyanins.
Carrots are easily digestible and low in calories. In addition to the carotenoids, they also contain other valuable nutrients such as potassium, calcium and iron. Incidentally, adding fat in the form of butter, cream or oil improves the absorption of beta-carotene. But it is even more important to chop carrots well and chew them properly, the Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) informs.
A valued winter vegetable until the 18th century and then almost replaced by potatoes and carrots, parsnips are currently experiencing a renaissance with increasing acreage. Harvested from September and storable for up to six months, the yellowish, up to 40 cm long beet with the broad head is offered all winter.
Parsnips can be eaten raw or cooked - similar to carrots. Smaller, young parsnips are very suitable as a soup inlay. The root vegetables taste grated raw as a salad. Also very popular is a parsnip puree that tastes a little more aromatic than mashed potatoes. Parsnips are a starchy, filling vegetable and also contain significant amounts of vitamin C and potassium.
Root parsley has been grown with us for a long time on significantly larger areas than the parsnip. In contrast to leaf parsley, it forms an up to 20 cm long, yellowish-white, slender, edible turnip with a sweetish-spicy taste. It will also be available in stores from September to spring.
Root parsley is ideal for cream soups, as the parsley taste of the root is retained when cooking. It is well suited for the preparation of vegetable fritters and as a refined accompaniment to lamb, game and beef. You can also cut them into slices and deep-fry them. The root parsley is an important supplier of vitamin C and provitamin A and what many do not know: the leaves are not only edible, but also tasty.