Sal­si­fy — The win­ter asparagus

The black sal­si­fy is ide­al proof that first impres­sions are often decep­tive: with its black earthy skin, it often does not look par­tic­u­lar­ly attrac­tive from the out­side at first glance. For a long time, it was there­fore not eat­en, but only used as a rem­e­dy. But today we know that the win­ter veg­etable has much more to offer. Hard­ly any oth­er veg­etable con­tains as much fiber as sal­si­fy. It also has no need to hide in terms of taste. 

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of salsify

The sal­si­fy, like the Jerusalem arti­choke, belongs to the botan­i­cal fam­i­ly of com­pos­ite plants. The hardy peren­ni­al plant grows up to 1.30 meters tall. How­ev­er, the most impor­tant part is found under the ground: Name­ly, the real veg­eta­bles are the roots of the plant. These can reach a length of up to 50 cen­time­ters, and a diam­e­ter of three to five cen­time­ters. From the out­side, the sal­si­fy is brown to black. Its inte­ri­or, how­ev­er, is bright white and rem­i­nis­cent of con­ven­tion­al aspara­gus. The two are also very sim­i­lar in taste: the sal­si­fy is only slight­ly nut­ti­er and spici­er. How­ev­er, its con­sis­ten­cy is more like that of a car­rot or parsnip. The sal­si­fy is main­ly cul­ti­vat­ed in Bel­gium, France and the Nether­lands. In Ger­many, it is avail­able from Sep­tem­ber to April and is there­fore also known as “win­ter asparagus”. 

The black sal­si­fy has its ori­gin in Spain. How­ev­er, due to its appear­ance, it was not used as a veg­etable for a long time. Many did not know that under the hard, black shell still hides a deli­cious, bright core. There­fore, it used to be used exclu­sive­ly as a med­i­c­i­nal plant against var­i­ous dis­eases and proved to be a real mir­a­cle cure, espe­cial­ly against the plague and snakebites. It was not until the 17th cen­tu­ry that it was dis­cov­ered that black sal­si­fy could also be eat­en. Thus it found its way into the domes­tic cook­ing pots. Today, the veg­etable is an inte­gral part of many dish­es, espe­cial­ly in the cold season. 

The ingre­di­ents of salsify

Sal­si­fy is a real pow­er veg­etable: apart from beans and peas, no oth­er veg­etable has as many nutri­ents as sal­si­fy. On 100 g, 17 g of dietary fiber come togeth­er. In addi­tion, the win­ter veg­etable is rich in vit­a­mins A, C, and E. Vit­a­mins B1 and B2 are also present in high quan­ti­ties. The sal­si­fy also has numer­ous min­er­als and trace ele­ments. For exam­ple, the high potas­si­um and man­ganese con­tent is remark­able. Despite the many fibers, the sal­si­fy is not a calo­rie bomb, because with only 17 kcal per 100 g and 0.4 g fat, the sal­si­fy is very figure-friendly. 

The effect of black sal­si­fy on our body

The sal­si­fy has a very pos­i­tive effect on our body due to its healthy ingre­di­ents. The potas­si­um sup­ports the func­tion of mus­cles, nerves and cells and is there­fore good for our heart and heart rhythm. The man­ganese helps our liv­er to detox­i­fy our body and vit­a­min E pro­tects our cells from harm­ful oxy­gen compounds. 

Apart from that, the white, milky juice in sal­si­fy has a very calm­ing effect and thus ensures a good night’s sleep. The active ingre­di­ent allan­toin also pro­motes wound heal­ing. Also inter­est­ing is that the con­sump­tion of black sal­si­fy increas­es our con­cen­tra­tion by acti­vat­ing brain work. 

The numer­ous dietary fibers and fur­ther ensure a good and active diges­tion. How­ev­er, exces­sive con­sump­tion can lead to flat­u­lence or diar­rhea. There­fore, you should not over­do it with the black sal­si­fy, as tempt­ing as it is. 

The sal­si­fy in the kitchen

Black sal­si­fy is a real all-rounder in the kitchen: whether boiled, fried, grati­nat­ed or deep-fried, they are ver­sa­tile. They go well in soups, casseroles and stews. But thanks to their nut­ty and spicy fla­vor, they also make a great addi­tion to rice or as a side dish to var­i­ous meat dish­es. As a raw food, the root also brings some vari­ety to sal­ads and dips. 

To get to the deli­cious flesh of the root, you need a veg­etable clean­er. This is the only way to eas­i­ly remove the black skin. You should also wear an apron and gloves, because when you peel and cut the root, a milky, thick juice comes out that can stain your fin­gers and leave brown stains on your clothes. These are very dif­fi­cult to wash out.

Buy­ing and stor­ing salsify

When buy­ing sal­si­fy, make sure that the veg­etable is as straight and intact as pos­si­ble, because dam­age, such as breaks or cuts, will cause the root to dry out more quickly. 

Black sal­si­fy should be stored only whole. The skin should not be removed, nor should the root be washed. Cov­ered with soil or sand, the veg­etable can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to three weeks. Black sal­si­fy that has already been washed but not yet peeled can be stored in the refrig­er­a­tor for up to three days if you wrap it in news­pa­per before­hand. You can also freeze the sal­si­fy. For this, how­ev­er, they must first be washed, peeled and blanched in boil­ing salt­ed water for about two minutes. 

You can tell if your sal­si­fy is still fresh when you cut it at home: If milky juice comes out, you can use it with­out hesitation.


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