Scorzonera hispanica or black salsify

This farming product is used as a vegetable since the 16th century. The original name of salsify - Scorzonera - it is believed that the name Scorzonera originted from the Old French word „scorzon,“ which means snake, but it is more likely that this name comes from the Italian "scorza negra" meaning "black bark" or "black peel" and it describes the dark brown to black skin of the root. In some parts of Europe it was belived, that the person who will put the root of the snake in his mouth will die. Salsify is resistant to frost, it is doing well in Europe and Asia. Its flavour is fresh, sweet, and slightly spicy. In addition to its interesting flavour it also contains a large number of curative substances including the vitamins A, B, C and E, minerals - magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron, fibre, and a lot of water.

Due to the content of inulin, Black salsify is suitable for diabetics. It is a root vegetable that is suitable for children and is recommended for weight reduction diets. It also helps for gout and rheumatic diseases. The largest growers of Black salsify are France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Some species of cultivated Black salsify can reach lengths of up to 40 cm and a wit diameter of 4 cm. Black salsify is quite similar to carrots or parsley, but the colour of the skin of the root, unlike them is dark black. On the surface there are fine strips and small roots, the flesh is white and brittle. When you cut or fracture the root it release thick white juice, which is called latex, which after several minutes’ dries and the juice forms and creates a white coating.

Stem of Black salsify can reach in the second year of growing up to 120 cm, in July and August it is blooming with yellow flowers. These blossoms smell nice, but they ae closing in the afternoon. Seeds can be collected in September and late August, their capacity to germinate is up to two years.

Growing black salsify

It is possible to grow black salsify in almost every climate. It is doing well in almost every region. However, black salsify does not like fertilized soil rich in nitrogen fertilizers, direct fertilizing with manure or acidic soils. Plants are frost-resistant. If you will water the soil where you grow black salsify regularly, it is a guarantee of rich harvest, but the lower water level, where you grow the root should not exceed 80 cm, than this vegetable does not grow well.

Black salsify has a long growing season, it is planted in early spring in rows spaced 30-40 cm, planting depth should be 2 - 3 cm. After plants germinate, thin them out in distance up to about 10 centimetres. Black salsify harvest takes place during October. It is possible to grow black salsify as a winter vegetables, in which case sow black salsify in early August and you can harvest it the spring of next year.

In our conditions is the most commonly grown variety - black salsify -Libochovický. The black root is cylindrical, even root with creamy white flesh, it needs early sowing and it reliably survive over winter in loose soil.

Black salsify seeds resemble fragments of straw. This root vegetable is grown as an annual or biennial plan. The soil in which will a black salsify grow should not be rocky or lumpy, otherwise the roots will been deformed. At the beginning, the plant develops slowly and so it is needed to clear it often of weeds. It is possible to store the crop over the winter.

Harvest and storage of black salsify

The roots are usually very long and fragile, so when harvested it must be done carefully to avoid its damage. It is recommended to dig out next to row with plants the furrow, and then dig up on the other side the roots with pitchfork.

For winter-storage is recommended to tie black salsify roots into bundles, wrap it in foil and store them in moist sand or into a hotbed. Otherwise, they dry out fairly quickly, but with high breathability it is possible to keep them until spring.

Before eating itself, you must wash the Black salsify properly and you must get rid of hard skin. This crop is very sticky. Sometimes it is advisable to cook it for 20-25 minutes and then peel. Carefully soak the entire root in acidic water, this will prevent it from the browning.

Healing effects of black salsify

Salsify is very suitable for diabetics, it has high contents of carbohydrates and inulin. It also contains high amount of water, protein, fat, and fibre. It also contains many trace elements, such as magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium, and sodium. It is a very good source of vitamins, it contains the most vitamins A, B1, C and E. It is also suitable for those suffering from problems with rheumatism.

Black salsify was also used in traditional folk medicine, mainly because of the content of allantois, which has healing effects and interacts with other anti-inflammatory substances. It is used in the treatment of the musculoskeletal system, muscle aches, joints, and spine. It helps accelerate wound healing, reduces swelling, heals burns, and sores. The high content of potassium in the black salsify is helpful for rheumatism and for people with heart diseases. In the past, it was used even in snakebites and as a cure for the plague.

Black salsify in the kitchen

Black salsify has delicious, though not too much distinctive flavour. It contains few calories, and the aforementioned health-promoting substances. It is easily digestible, so can safely indulge it, even if we suffer with some digestive problems. It is an appropriate part of the diet if we suffer with the stomach and intestines diseases.

You can use black salsify for example to spike vegetable salads. Grate it finely and add to the other vegetables. It can be fried in breadcrumbs in high-quality oil. It is possible to prepare it like asparagus. You can stew it and serve it as a side dish to meat, as a part of vegetable mixes, or you can prepare of it vegetable soup cream.

The taste of black salsify is pleasing and delicate, it may reminiscent parsnips, only the latex flowing from is bitter, so it is necessary to prevent it from getting into the prepared dish.


Black salsify - Recipes

Spread from black salsify


  • 1 pack of cottage cheese
  • 20 cm of black salsify
  • Linseed oil
  • Salt
  • For a better taste, you can add a little bit of ginger or nutmeg etc.

Spread from black salsify - preparation process

Peel black salsify and grate it finely. Mix it in a bowl with cottage cheese, linseed oil, and add up to taste ginger and nutmeg. If you are preparing a spread for children, then do not season it. Spread the finished spread on sandwiches and you can even decorate it with a piece of lemon and chopped parsley.

Fried black salsify


  • 1 kg of black salsify
  • 500 ml of broth
  • 150 g of flour
  • 220 ml of light beer
  • 50 g of butter
  • Lemon, salt, pepper
  • Frying Oil

Fried black salsify - preparation process

First whisk flour in beer, add the softened butter, and whip everything until the butter is melted well and creates a delicate substance. Season with salt and pepper and set aside at least half an hour to rest. Peel black salsify and cut it into 5 cm pieces. Cook it in broth until semi-soft. Let the root of black salsify cool, sprinkle it with flour, and coat in batter. Fry until golden brown. Thus prepared, served with potatoes and sauce that tastes us. We can decorate it for example, with lemon.

Gratin black salsify


  • 1 kg of black salsify
  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 5 slices of ham
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200 ml of milk
  • 250 ml of sour cream
  • 100g of grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Gratin black salsify - preparation process

First peel black salsify and boil it in salted water for 20-30 minutes. Drain it on strainer and place it on a baking tray. Sprinkle it with diced ham and pour with a mixture of cream, milk, egg yolk, salt, and pepper. Lay sliced ​​tomatoes on the top, sprinkle everything with grated cheese, and bake in preheated oven.

Vegetable soup from black salsify


  • Black salsify
  • Vegetable broth
  • Roux
  • Tougher roll
  • Egg yolk
  • Salt
  • Parsley

Vegetable soup from black salsify - preparation process

Clean and wash black salsify, peel and cut it into small pieces. Cook it in salted water until tender. Add vegetable broth, roux, salt, and simmer it for about 5 minutes. Cut rolls into cubes and fry it in hot oil until crispy. Stir egg yolk into the soups, but do not cook it anymore. Ladle the soup into a bowl, serve it with croutons, and decorated with parsley.


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