A highly prized vegetable, black salsify was known for its healing powers in the Middle Ages and often used as a medicine. In today’s post, you will find out why it might be a good idea to find some black salsify and make it a staple ingredient in your winter cuisine.

The history of black salsify

Black salsify, also known as “winter asparagus”, originally comes from Spain and was a favourite with the Teutons (an ancient Germanic people mentioned by Greek and Roman authors). It was particularly popular in the Middle Ages, when it was believed to counteract poisons (its healing properties were used to combat snake bites) and used to protect against diseases such as the bubonic plague. Today, it has a far less illustrious reputation. Nevertheless, is very much in vogue as a highly nutritious winter root vegetable. It’s available fresh until April and is particularly popular in European countries such as Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Full of goodness

In terms of nutrients, black salsify is something of a little treasure trove: it’s rich in vitamins A, B, C and E, and offers a healthy dose of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and iron. It also contains allantonin as an active ingredient, which is often used in ointments because it speeds up cell regeneration, disinfects and helps wounds to heal.

Black salsify is regarded as a natural diuretic (a substance that facilitates the elimination of excess water from the body) and contains inulin, which confers a delicious sweetness that is a healthy choice for diabetics. On top of this, stress-relieving substances in its milky sap make black salsify a great food to tuck into in the evening, when it will help you to relax and get a good night’s sleep. No wonder black salsify gained such amazing credentials as a natural healing remedy!

Preparation and storage

When buying black salsify, make sure the spears are not too thin because you will have some wastage when you peel them. Peel them in water, using a potato peeler, and remember to wear rubber gloves to avoid getting marks on your hands. Many people are unaware that, beneath the peel, black salsify is actually white. To make sure it stays that way, you will need to place the freshly peeled spears in lemon water with a little flour.

Peeled Black Salsify

If you don’t intend to use your black salsify straight away, store the unwashed spears in the refrigerator, where they will stay fresh for up to 55 days. Keeping them in a Liebherr BioFresh compartment will ensure they stay fresh for even longer: up to 110 days – double the time of a conventional refrigerator!

A delicious treat

Many people do not realise that this healthy root vegetable can be used to conjure up a whole host of delicious dishes. Black salsify is prepared in a similar way to asparagus and makes a great side dish for meat or fish. It tastes fantastic roasted, pan-fried or grilled. If you like soup, why not whip up a tasty black salsify soup? You can add some to your favourite stew recipe or pair it with lemon juice and make it an interesting addition to a salad.

For that matter, who says that chips have to be made from potatoes? Why not try this funky recipe for black salsify chips:

Black salsify Chips

Serves 4
500 g black salsify
500 ml milk
Half a bunch each of: chives, parsley and chervil
1 shallot
15 g almond flakes
3 tbsp lemon juice
8 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 pinch sugar
2 eggs
50 g flour
1 litre deep-frying oil

Begin by washing and peeling the black salsify spears, and then par-boil them in a mixture of 500 ml milk and 500 ml water for 12–15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the herbs (half a bunch each of chives, parsley and chervil) and finely dice the shallot. Brown and roughly crush the almond flakes in a non-greased pan. To make a dressing: whisk together the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 8 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt, pepper and 1 pinch of sugar; and add the prepared herbs, shallot and almonds.

Dab the black salsify dry, quarter them lengthways and cut them into 6 cm pieces. Whisk 2 eggs and season with salt and pepper. First, dip the black salsify pieces into the egg mixture, and then into the flour to lightly coat them. Tap off any excess flour. Heat the deep-frying oil to 170°C and fry the black salsify pieces for 1–2 minutes until golden brown. Serve with the dressing or with dips of your choice.

Our Liebherr blog contains other food recommendations to help you stay healthy in winter: Five foods to get you through the cold and flu season.

If you’re interested in reading about other food facts and ideas – and about a whole lot more – simply subscribe to our blog newsletter, and you’ll never miss out on our posts again!