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Our grandparents habitually consumed many root vegetables that have now unfortunately gone almost completely out of use; apart from radishes, beets and carrots, there are very few root vegetables that are still commonly known, cultivated and above all consumed.
Fortunately, good healthy eating habits are bringing back to our tables many forgotten vegetables, and among them some roots, which, in addition to being good and healthy, offer the advantage of being able to be grown even in the cold months, bringing a good amount of mineral salts and vitamins also on the table of colors wishing to consume only seasonal vegetables and fruits, not artificially preserved.
Among the vegetables with the most widespread roots we certainly remember the white turnip and the celeriac, among the few that are still commonly used in cooking, the first cooked, the second cooked, and raw.
Widespread and not very common roots
For some time now we have forgotten some vegetables in Italy, which until a few decades ago were very present on the tables, such as the parsnip (pastinaca sativa), which was completely supplanted by radishes and carrots: it is in fact a kind of long white carrot, with a delicate taste, which is eaten raw or cooked.
Along with the latter also the cren (armoracia rusticana), the cabbage navone (brassica napus esculenta), the rutabaga (brassica napus napobrassica) and the ramolaccio (raphanus sativus): it is now vegetables unknown to most, hardly available either for cultivation, both for consumption at the table. On the other hand, all the most commonly used roots in Italian cuisine are not very common, such as the scorzonera (scorzonera hispanica), the scorzobianca (tragopogon) and the bitter roots (cychorius intibus sativus). Fortunately, more and more enthusiasts are reintroducing the vegetables of our grandparents, healthy and cheap, in the vegetable gardens and in agriculture; It is therefore always easier to find the way to grow these plants in our garden, since these vegetables are easy to grow, they do not need much space, and above all they are often ready to be harvested in the middle of winter, when the garden does not offer many vegetables succulent and tasty.
Grow root vegetables
The edible roots are usually long roots with taproots, so the more they develop, the greater the harvest; for this reason it is good to sow or plant the vegetables from roots in a nice soft and soft soil, so that the roots do not find obstacles during their growth. In a hard and compact soil root vegetables are kept small, and often tend to become excessively leathery. Then we choose a beautiful patch in the sun, and work it thoroughly, adding sand and manure, so as to obtain a soft cultivation bed, easily penetrated by the roots of young plants. We can sow the vegetables we choose by spreading them, then going to thin them, leaving the plants in rows, about 10-20 cm apart from each other; or we can sow in seedbeds, or buy small species of it, to be immediately dwelling in rows.
some are planted in late spring, others in late summer, others again in spring, depending on the vegetative cycle; in any case it is usually avoided to make a single collected mainsail, and it is often decided to leave the roots ready for consumption in the field, to be able to collect them fresh as needed, throughout the autumn and winter.
Eventually a single harvest is then made of the remaining roots towards the end of winter, to free up the plot with other vegetables. Root vegetables do not require great care: in the vegetation period of the herbaceous part we water regularly, when the soil is dry, and we fertilize regularly. If desired, we can spread a slow release granular fertilizer on the ground when we plant the young plants, so with each watering we are going to fertilize them. When the aerial part tends to deteriorate due to the cold we can cimary them, covering the roots with fresh soil, in order to protect them from the cold.
Root plants: Root vegetables in the kitchen
The roots generally have a sweet and delicate spore, in the case of celeriac it is a vegetable with a very aromatic taste, reminiscent of hazelnuts, potatoes and celery, all mixed in a very particular flavor. The bitter roots are, as the name says, definitely very bitter, and their taste is due to the purifying substances contained in them, they are in fact strongly diuretic. Parsnips have a delicate and sweet taste, like scorzobianca; the scorzonera instead has a more marked taste. The horseradish is a strongly aromatic root, with a strong and intense taste, and in fact it is often mixed in small quantities with cream, mayonnaise or sauces.
In general the vegetables with roots, apart from the exceptions, are simply consumed boiled, seasoned with salt and oil.