Parsnip Balls

Parsnip Balls 2

Winter farmers’ markets in the small suburb where I live are always a bit of an adventure, and I’m never quite sure what will be available. I recently was thrilled to find some lovely parsnips, but then I had a challenge: Could I find an interesting hundred-year-old recipe that called for parsnips?

I browsed through a couple 1916 issues of Good Housekeeping magazine and came across an intriguing recipe for Parsnip Balls, and decided to give it a try.

The Parsnip Balls only had a few ingredients and were surprisingly easy to make. They turned out awesomely. The balls were coated with ground walnuts which added a bit of crunch to the earthy, sweetness of the parsnips. This recipe is a keeper.

Here’s the recipe adapted for modern cooks:

Parsnip Balls

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

3-4 medium parsnips (1 cup, mashed)

15 saltine crackers (1/2 cup  cracker crumbs)

1 egg yolk

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup ground walnuts

1/2 cup shortening or lard

Peel parsnips and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubed parsnips in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until parsnips are tender. Drain parsnips, and then mash. In the meantime, crush the saltine crackers to make crumbs.

Combine mashed parsnip, cracker crumbs, egg yolk, and salt in a bowl. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls; then roll in ground walnuts. Place the shortening into a frying pan, and heat until hot.  Drop balls into the hot shortening, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.

And, here is the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)

51 thoughts on “Parsnip Balls

    1. I was very pleasantly surprised by this recipe. It was easy to make; the parsnip balls stayed together and I had no issues with them wanting to fall apart, and they had a nice taste and texture.

  1. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a parsnip, let alone eaten one. I associate them with children’s books — Peter Rabbit, maybe? I’ll have to look in the store and see if they’re stocked. I don’t remember ever seeing them in our farmers’ markets, but maybe they’ve just been off my radar.

    1. I like parsnips. I often use them in winter vegetable mixtures. They seem like they’ve become more popular around here in recent years. If you see them, you should give them a try.

  2. I’ve never run across parsnips in my shopping for vegetables – but of course I haven’t looked for them either. Wouldn’t know one if I came across it! This does sound delicious though. What family of vegetable does the parsnip belong to Sheryl? ~Elle

    1. My husband and I ate them as a vegetable; but, now that you mention it, I think that they would make a nice appetizer. If I was going to serve them as an appetizer, I’d probably make them a little smaller than what I did.

    1. What an interesting story! Thanks for sharing it. I never would thought about combining parsnips with a banana flavoring. Now I’m intrigued–and may have to try it. 🙂

      1. I wouldn’t bother unless you were desperate! The Brits had all sorts of ways to deal with shortages. My mum and her siblings had dresses made out of flour sacks, bleached and dyed. The material was very nice cotton back then.

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