Salsify, White Salsify, vegetable oyster or Oyster Plant is an unusual plant whose roots and leaves are eaten as a vegetable. Possibly originating in the Mediterranean, it is a member of the sunflower family.
The roots store their carbohydrates as inulin instead of starch, which turns to fructose instead of glucose during digestion. This is ideal for diabetics as it reduces their glucose load.
The root resembles a thin parsnip, long and rough in texture with a white or creamy flesh. The leaves are eaten in salads, sandwiches or sautéed with their stems in butter like leeks. Roots are peeled and used in fall and winter soups, stews, sautéed or sometimes mashed or mixed with mashed heirloom potatoes. True flavor when grown in deep rich soil is much closer to artichoke hearts than oysters.
Young leaves have a taste similar to chicory and are used in salads, on sandwiches and as an edible garnish. The clusters of bluish-purple flowers are also an eye-catching garnish.
Salsify fritters are made with cooked and puréed roots that are coated in egg batter and flour then pan or deep-fried to a crispy golden brown.
Very hardy plant that is seeded in earliest spring and left to grow until fall frosts, when the cooler season richens the flavors. Needs a deep rich soil to produce the best taste. Best flavor if left in the ground until needed, dug up, washed, peeled and eaten fresh.
"Salsify - the Vegetable Oyster" takes a closer look at this ancient herb that is just now being re-discovered.
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