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.