I have never found parsnips with their green attached. If you can, the
greens should be fresh looking and not at all limp. If there are no
greens, try to buy clip-top parsnips that are sold in bunches, not in
plastic bags. Look for the smallest, firmest cream or ivory-colored
roots. Parsnips are not as regularly formed as carrots. Don't be put
off by a knob or two, slightly twisted roots, or clinging garden oil.
Do avoid any that are limp and flabby, have black or brown spots, or
show any signs of mold.
Parsnips sold in plastic bags like horse carrots are harder to choose.
The bags are often difficult to see through, the vegetables inside are
frequently older and can have fibrous, woody cores. It may by wise to
buy at least one-third more than you need of these, in case you have to
discard the core of some of them.
You may get parsnips in the market all year long, but they are at their
best from October to January or February. After that they will most
likely be from cold storage.
You will need 11/2 to 2 pounds of fresh young parsnips with little or no
waste for six people. Count on 21/2 to 3 pounds of older parsnips that
may need coring.