Forgotten vegetables

crosnes roots
crosnes roots - by Jonathaneo

Never seen roots

Skirret (Sium sisarum), common salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) and crosne (stachys affinis): These delicacies have almost disappeared in this country. But you could grow these in your garden and use for delicious dishes.

Royal food

The skirret, an umbellifer, probably came via Russia to Europe in the 16th century. At that time, cakes and desserts from skirret were cooked and baked for fine English tables. It was also used for the production of sugar, as a coffee substitute and brandy. It was cultivated here until the middle of the 19th century, but then had to step aside for the popular potato. The sweet root only survived in pharmacist gardens, from where it is gaining popularity again today. In cultivation, it is leisurely, but uncomplicated in our latitudes. The skirret needs six to eight months in light, nutrient-rich soil without waterlogging.

Preferred is sowing with pre-swollen seeds, not by root division, because they become more tender. The sowing takes place in March or even in autumn, because the root is hardy. If the plant has four or five leaves, they are transplanted at a row distance of about 30 cm (12 in).

Food for strong men

The common salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius), also called vegetable oyster or goatsbeard, belongs to the daisy family. It forms up to 120 cm (47 in) long leaves, annual to biennial, and develops a nearly 30 cm (12 in) long taproot. This also tastes sweet, and their taste is said to remind of oysters. What makes her nickname “oyster plant” plausible. Habermark makes boys strong, is a fittingly Alemannic proverb. Common salsify are harvested in the fall of the first year, They can also stay in the frost-free soil in winter, unlike their replacement, the black salsify, and be harvested when needed. In the second year, the root lignifies and is no longer edible, but you can steam the closed inflorescences as a vegetable.

Common salsify has been extremely popular in kitchens since the 16th century, is easy to peel, and its leaves can be enjoyed as a salad or as spinach.

Wonderful nodules

The most exciting little root in the trio is crosne, a member of the mint family, already known to the Germanic tribes, who blooms purple in the summer. It bears funny names like Chinese or Japanese artichoke (because it tastes a bit like artichoke), knotroot or artichoke betony and is invisible in winter. You have to leave some nodules in the ground, so the harvest is guaranteed for the next year. The plant can stay in the same location for several years. The pearly, thin tuber skin is immediately clean, does not need to be peeled, and you can also eat the small rootlets raw, right out of the ground. But you can also use it for cooking, as a repalcement for aspargus or kohlrabi or simply use it raw in salads. A very simple way of preparation is to blanch in salted water for 5 min. Refined with butter, they are a delicacy.

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