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The Difference Between Salsify and Scorzonera: Gastronomical Uses and Nutrition

About the two main varieties of salsify. Salsify and scorzonera. How to cook and prepare them and their nutritional content. Also the carbohydrate inulin.

Salsify is a root vegetable from the daisy family native to the Mediterranean region that became popular in Victorian times when it was first cultivated. Many people have never tried salsify,a fact that is not surprising considering it is not often seen in supermarkets. When it does appear, between the months of October and March, it often resembles a brown, dirty looking carrot, and does not look appetizing. However, under salsify’s dull skin is a white, sweet, flesh that has an unusual flavor, often describe as similar to oyster with an aftertaste of coconut.

Two vegetables that are closely related, look slightly different, but taste almost the same are salsify and scorzonera. Scorzonera, also known as black salsify is a larger variety with dark brown or black skin and cream colored flesh. Its taste is similar to salsify although not as sweet and its texture is softer and less fibrous. Salsify has white or light brown skin with white flesh. This vegetable is sometimes sold with its leaves attached, the leaves taste similar to chicory. They can be cooked like spinach or eaten raw like salad and are highly nutritious. 

Gastronomical Uses, Preparing and Storing: Salsify can be peeled like carrots or blanched in boiling water, after which the skin can be removed easily by rinsing. To stop then from oxidization place them in water with some lemon juice.

Salsify can be cooked in much the same way as carrots. Simmer or steam salsify for 15 to 20 minutes before sautéing. They can be glazed, sautéed with butter and garlic, roasted, added to soups and stews, baked au gratin or topped with cheese sauce. They combine well with other root vegetables such as cassava and potatoes.

Nutrition: Aside from water, salsify is composed mostly of carbohydrate, about 10%. This root vegetable is a good source of protein, fiber , potassium, calcium and riboflavin. It also contains vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, folic acid and phosphorous.

Salsify is known to help relieve heartburn and is a traditionl remedy for liver problems. This vegetable is also a source of inulin. Inulin is a form of carbohydrate known as prebiotics that are found in certain vegetables and plants instead of starch. Prebiotics cannot be metabolized in the stomach but help the growth of good bacteria in the intestines. This helps strengthen the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and therefore increases the bodies resistance to viruses and bacteria. Another benefit of inulin is that it does not adversely affect the level of blood sugar, so it is ideal for diabetics. Chicory root is the best source of inulin, however salsify is also an excellent source as are leeks and asparagus. Inulin can also be manufactured and is used in many processed foods such as cereals, breads, yogurt and chocolate bars. Inulin adds sweetness to low calorie products and enhances taste and mouthfeel.

Scorzonera or black salsify root. Image credit.

Primary Image credit.

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Comments (1)
Beverly Anne Sanchez

Peter, I can't wait to see what next will you write about. Sounds like something I'd like to get into.