Root vegetables are not only budget friendly, they are highly versatile and nutrient-packed. As such, we cannot fail to mention these 13 typical root vegetables and their shelf life.
These are some of the most usable and readily available roots. There are thousands of different varieties of potatoes across the world, with some specific varieties more prominent in certain regions than others.
Potatoes are highly versatile, easy to use and blend well with dishes. Potatoes are universally used in French fries. They are also great as roasted, mashed, steamed or in gratins.
These roots are popular for imparting a crisp, tangy, peppery taste in dishes. Hence, radishes are great on salads.
There are many types of radishes, each having different color, taste and shape. Common colors are red, pink, purple, white, black and green. These varieties include watermelon radish, cherry belle, daikon white, horseradish, round black and plum purple.
Besides being used on salads, radishes are great when roasted, pickled, sliced and added into rice dishes or used in tacos.
Touted for being highly nutritious, beets have been in use for many centuries. The Greeks are considered the initial users of beets before cultivation spread in other places.
You are probably familiar with the red beets. However, there are other different beet types available. These include golden beets, white beets and Chioggia (candy cane) beets.
These roots are great in smoothies, steamed, roasted, diced, shredded and tossed on salads.
Carrots are some of the earliest domesticated roots. For thousands of years, they were grown in modern day Iran and other Middle East regions. There are numerous carrot variety in terms of color and size. Yes, not just the usual orange carrots that you are used to. There are red, purple, white as well as black carrots.
Turnips do well in temperate climates and are popularly used in European cuisines where they used to grow wildly, before being domesticated and commercially grown.
They have a distinctive white color and purple topside. Due to their stingy, hot flavor, turnips pair well with bolder flavors and are best prepared as roasted, steamed, added in soups and stir-fries. Baby turnips can be eaten raw, thinly sliced and used in dips.
Closely related to carrots in terms of appearance, parsnips have a creamy, tan peel with white, starchy flesh. They are harder than carrots and give off a spicy, warm flavor.
Having been in use since antiquity, parsnips are believed to have originates from Europe and Asia. Parsnips work great as part of roasted vegetables, mashed or used as noodles.
Not all root vegetables exist as originals. This is the case with rutabagas, which are a cross between cabbages and turnips.
Also known as Swede or snagger, these roots thrive in cool, temperate climates. They have a yellow and purple hue, with a creamy flesh.
Rutabagas are larger and denser than turnips but have a crisp, fresh, sweet-bitter flavor. They team well with fresh herbs and are great when roasted or pureed.
This starchy tuber has its origin in South America. It is known by many other names like manioc, manihot, tapioca, mandioca or yuca.
Cassava serves as a staple source of starch in many regions of Africa, Asia and South America.
Both the leaves and roots are edible. It is popular due to its filling properties.
Out of the 13 typical root vegetables and their shelf life, cassava is considered the trickiest to prepare. It contains poisonous elements in the pith of the root that cause fatalities. As such, never consume raw cassava.
It is popularly enjoyed as boiled, ground into flour which is used in porridge or starchy dishes, deep fried and served with salsa or chili sauce.
Also known as sweet anise, fennel cuts across as a root tuber as well as herb. All parts of this flowering plant – root, stalks, seeds and feathery leaves are edible.
Fennel root or bulb is creamy white and has a mild taste. It can be consumed raw or cooked.
Fennel root imparts crunchiness onto salads and dips. When cooked, it makes a wonderful addition to stir-fries, soups and roast vegetables.
This lesser known root vegetable has actually been in existence for centuries. It used to grow wildly in the Mediterranean region where Greeks and Romans made use of it.
Salsify also goes by the name oyster plant as these two have similar taste. There are two varieties of salsify – white and black.
Enjoy salsify raw or cooked on its own or add to salads, stir-fries and stews.
Best believe that celeriac won’t turn heads or catch your attention in the produce section. This root is far from appealing due to the protruding knobs found in the bulb itself.
Celeriac is commonly known as celery root and is popular in many northern European cuisines.
It gives off a nutty, celery-like taste and sweetens when cooked. Enjoy it raw in salads and slaw recipes or roasted, steamed and grated onto other savory dishes.
This root is a native of Asia and some parts of Middle East and Australia. Lotus roots have an interesting appearance. They resemble white sweet potatoes but when cut, the cream flesh has air pockets which look like spoke wheels.
This root is popular in Chinese cuisine where it is used in stir-fries, soups or salads. It gives off a sweet, nutty flavor.
These roots neither originate from Jerusalem nor are they related to the common spear-shaped artichokes. So, what are they?
Jerusalem artichokes are natives of Canada and North America. These roots belong to the sunflower family and are also known as sunchokes.
They have a white flesh which turns cream when cooked and give off a sweet, vanilla taste. They are versatile and pair well with both sweet and savory dishes.
Shelf life of Root Vegetables
Root vegetables are both refrigerator and freezer friendly. Proper storage prolongs their shelf life without compromising on nutrient loss and quality.
For short-term use, store raw root vegetables in the pantry or vegetable crisper of your refrigerator.
Sort them out by, removing soil, chopping off excess roots and stalks and washing them thoroughly. Allow them to dry before storage. Any bruised or cut roots should be used immediately.
When refrigerating, place them in Ziploc bags or airtight containers. Well refrigerated root vegetables keep well for up to 1 month.
For long-term storage, use the freezer. However, this calls for blanching. You will need to chop the vegetables into smaller portions. Ensure you shock them in ice water before packing them in freezer bags. Well frozen roots last up to 9 months in good quality.
Cooked root vegetables have the shortest shelf life. Refrigerate and consume them within 5 days. Alternatively, you can freeze for longer shelf life.
Tell-tale signs of spoilage
It is easy to identify spoilage in root vegetables. Do so using these 4 pointers:
- Brown spots in flesh or darkened skin
- Watery, sunken flesh
- Visible mold in both skin and flesh
- Off odor
There are conflicting details as to what exactly constitutes a root vegetable. Therefore, this list of 13 typical root vegetables and their shelf life may not be exhaustive. But, I am sure after reading it, you will add more roots to your grocery shopping list.