What are Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are plant roots that are used for cooking or seasoning. The most common root vegetables that people are most familiar with are the potatoes (irish, red, and sweet), garlic, onions, and carrots. However, there are some root vegetables that are not as glamorous, like the turnips, rutabagas, beets, and parsnips. A lot these root vegetables are loaded with carbohydrates and fiber. They are also rich in flavor and do not cost a lot to cook with. Rutabagas and turnips are members of the mustard family, while parsnips are fibrous root vegetables that are related to the carrot.

Root vegetables are also easy to store. There are four steps to store these vegetables. They are as follows:

1. Leave root vegetables in the ground until the danger of frost. Most root vegetables can be left in the ground until mid- November. Cover the rows of root vegetables with straw to keep from freezing.

2. Dig up root vegetables once there is danger of freezing. Do not wash the vegetables. Wipe off the dirt and cut off the tops only.

3. Store the vegetables in a dry, cool, dark environment. There are several ways of doing this. Use a garbage can filled with straw. Put the vegetables in a barn or keep the vegetables in a box in a dark basement. A root cellar is ideal if you have one.

4. Keep the vegetables dry. Store them at a temperature of 32 to 38 degrees. Remove any rotten vegetables to prevent the other vegetables from spoiling.

Once the root vegetables are pulled up, they can fill us with vitamins, especially if cooked right. There are 10 ways to use the root vegetables

1. Root vegetables to soups – By adding them to soups, you are adding texture to the soups, flavor, and nutrition to the recipe. Avoid over cooking, so that they do not turn into mush. Cooking for about 20 minutes should be fine.

2. Braised root vegetables Braised means to cook slowly in a bit of liquid. This will allow the root vegetables to become tender and deep with flavor without harming the nutritional value of the vegetable.

3. Mashed root vegetables Mash Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes (like for pies) are the most common. But other root vegetables mashed are just as good, too. You can also add in a rutabaga or turnip to your every day mashed potatoes for a delicious recipe and something uniquely different.

4. Roasted root vegetables Roasting the vegetables allows the sweetness to come out and also gives a crisp to the exterior of the vegetable.

5. Making chips out of the root vegetables This is done by frying the vegetables until they are crisp.

6. Fries Cutting the vegetables into strips and making French fries out of them.

7. Gratins Taken the root vegetables and slicing them thin, then layering them, and bake until tender by using an assortment of cheeses and creams for an all time great side dish.

8. Hash Browns Grating the root vegetables and cooking until crispy and brown.

9. Salads Either add to existing salad or make them your own. Toss with salad dressing and all of the fixings.

10. Smooth vegetable soups Root vegetables are bases for all soups, especially when making smooth soups. Cook the vegetables until tender, then puree them with cream and add seasonings.

Over all root vegetables are versatile in every day cooking and have many common traditional uses world wide that we all grew up on. They are inexpensive to use and add much flavor to anything you cook.

Reference:
1. List of root vegetables
2. A Guide to Root Vegetables – Oh My Veggies