Vegetables Parsnip - Turnips




Select firm, unshriveled parsnips of moderate size (large ones can be woody). The outside should be relatively clean and free of surface blemishes. Avoid those that are limp, shriveled, or spotted.

Parsnips will store well for several weeks in plastic packaging in the refrigerator's vegetable crisper.

Parsnips are sweet and look a bit like yellow carrots.

Before using Parsnips, rinse well, trim the crown and peel the

outer skin. Parsnips are often dipped in wax to retard growth during storage, be sure to remove all the wax.

Parsnip has a flavor described as nutty, spicy or peppery. It's well suited to prolonged cooking, as in casseroles and stews, or oven-roasted on its own. Parsnip patties are a southern favorite.


Peas grown for the immature peas are called garden peas, shell peas or green peas. They are sold fresh (usually in the pod), or tinned or frozen.

Look for plump, bright green pods.

Fresh peas are often eaten boiled and flavored

with butter and/or spearmint as a side dish vegetable. Fresh peas are also used in pot pies, salads and casseroles. Pod peas (particularly sweet varieties, like sugar peas) are used in stir fried dishes. Peas should be used shortly after harvest as they loose their flavor.

Cow Peas

There are many members of the "cow pea" or "southern pea" family, black-eyed peas, purple hull peas, zipper peas and crowder peas.

The seeds eye actually has color, such as black, brown, tan, pink, and so on. Some varieties of seeds have body color also such as, black, tan, blue, gray, speckled and

purple to name a few. Cook as you would for dry beans. Sort through the peas and discard pieces of dirt or stones.

According to tradition you are to eat your black-eyed peas on New Years Day and most likely they'll be from the south. Oh, and toss a few dried ones in with your coin purse on that day and make sure you eat greens with those black-eyed peas. The peas bring good luck and stand for copper and gold coins and the greens stand for folding money so goes the superstition.


The color can be green, red, yellow, orange and, more rarely, white, purple and brown depending on when they are harvested. Specifically, green peppers are unripened bell peppers. They are eaten green or ripe and are used for salads, stuffing, soup, stews, relishes and pickling.

Choose dark green, well developed, bell shaped

peppers with no soft spots or bruises. Store in crisper until ready to use, approximately 1 week.

Hot pepper varieties have also enjoyed a rebirth of popularity recently, mainly due to various ethnic cuisines that use their unique flavors and heat creatively.


Unless you buy your potatoes from a farmer it is often hard to see inside the bag of potatoes at the store. If you notice an order where the potatoes are stacked, look carefully at the bag for rotting potatoes.

Potatoes' skins come in the colors brown, yellow,

pink, red, and purple. Their flesh may appear white or may reflect the color of the skin. Blue potatoes are white when cooked.

In the market "fingerlings" or "new" potatoes, larger potatoes may class as "earlies" or "main crop", with the "main crop" referring to varieties that will store well. The Potato bag may contain information as to type:

"boiling", indicating that they retain some shape when boiled
"baking", indicating that they only hold their shape if baked
"roasting", indicating good flavor when roasted
"salad" to indicate suitability for salad use
"mashing" to indicate that when mashed they form a smooth consistency, neither fibrous nor grainy


Pumpkins arrive in the stores in early fall, just in time for Halloween.  Pumpkin are a member of the squash family and can be prepared in the same manner.


In choosing pumpkin for pies pick the medium sized ones.  Watch for bruises, nicks and softness.  Your pumpkin should be firm and with an inch of the vine attached.


When selecting radishes, choose the ones with the tops removed.  The leaves cause moisture to be lost during storage. Refrigerate radishes in plastic bag and store in the crisper for 5 to 7 days.


Trim the tops and root and slice for use in salads or

grate them as an addition to coleslaw. 

I have been told that sliced radishes can be added to spaghetti like mushrooms!


Rutabaga s should be four to six inches in diameter and free of bruises and blemishes. Shriveled roots are a sign of age and should not be used. They are often waxed for storage purposes.

Wash and peel, making sure to remove any wax. Cube the rutabaga to use in soup or casseroles.



Fresh spinach is available year round, sold in bags or loose.  When choosing spinach select small leaves, with a good green color.  Stems should be thin or the spinach will be tough.


Spinach is grown in sand and needs special care in

washing to remove the grit of the sand.  Often you will need to wash each leaf individually.  Wash spinach just prior to using.


The moisture left on the leaves from washing is enough water for steaming.  Torn leaves can be added to salads.


Squash come in many colors, shapes, and size.  Zucchini and yellow, are considered summer squash.  Hubbard, buttercup, and acorn are considered winter squash.  Its not that they are only grown at those times of the year it indicates the length of time it takes them to grow.


When choosing summer squash look for smooth skin, free of blemishes and soft spots.  Use the squash in salads and casseroles.  Zucchini makes the best bread!


For winter squash, you want hard, firm, with a thick skin. Winter squash make the best pumpkin pies, because pumpkin can be tough and bland.


Peel the skin from the squash and cut in chunks to be microwaved or steamed and served with a small amount of brown sugar and butter.

Sweet Potato

When buying sweet potatoes, select sound, firm roots. Handle them carefully to prevent bruising. Storage in a dry, unrefrigerated bin. Do not refrigerate, because temperatures below 55 degrees will chill this tropical vegetable giving it a hard core and an undesirable taste when cooked.

When ready to use, scrub skin and trim off any bruised or woody portions. Cook with the skins left on and peel after cooking. Ask any southern cook there is nothing better than Sweet Potato Pie.


Tomatoes are one of the most common garden vegetables in the United States. Tomatoes come in many colors, shapes and sizes.

Slicing tomatoes are large round varieties, which hold more juice and seeds. They are perfect for eating raw in a wide variety of ways. Plum

tomatoes are meaty, eggplant-shaped, and may be red or yellow. They are excellent for sauce making, canning, and pizzas. Small cherry-type tomatoes are generally served whole, although they can be cut in half and sautéed in any dish. They contain a great deal of seeds and juice.

Most tomatoes are picked before fully ripe. When choosing tomatoes, look for firm but not hard, smooth, and no bruises. Tomatoes are best eaten at room temperature. To ripen tomatoes, place them in a paper bag, stem end up. Punch several holes all around the bag and fold the top over. Depending on how under ripe they are, tomatoes may take one to five days to ripen. Check progress daily.

Refrigeration also slows ripening of tomatoes. Refrigerate only extra-ripe tomatoes you want to keep from ripening any further.


The variety generally available is the white globe-shaped turnip. Red, purple, and pink turnips can be found in some markets, and very young, walnut-sized turnips are being harvested in early spring for the consumer.

Select smaller roots are sweeter and tender

turnips. Turnips should be no larger than 3 inches in diameter, with unblemished skins.

Artichoke - Celery  Collards - Onion  Parsnips - Turnips

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