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Salsafy

Botanical: Tragopogon porrifolius (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae

---Synonyms---Purple Goat's Beard. Vegetable Oyster.
(French) Salsifis des prés.
---Part Used---Root.


The Salsafy, familiar as a kitchen-garden plant, is very similar to Goat's Beard, the main difference being the colour of the flowers - yellow in our native species, purple in the Salsafy.

Salsafy is often called the Purple Goat's Beard, from its likeness in general character to the Yellow Goat's Beard of the countryside. Some writers, again, invert this distinction and call the Yellow Goat's Beard, 'Meadow Salsafy.' The French call it 'Salsifis des prés.'

Salsafy is a corruption of the old Latin name solsequium. This was derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sequens (following), meaning the flower that followed the course of the sun.

It is a taller plant than the Goat's Beard, the stem being nearly 3 feet high. The leaves and flowers are similar in form, the flowers having the same peculiarity of closing at noon. The florets are of a delicate pale purple colour.

Though not a British species, it is occasionally found in moist meadows, having been originally a garden escape. It was formerly much cultivated for the sake of its fleshy, tapering roots.

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---Cultivation---Salsafy is a very easy crop to grow and matures in a year.

A friable, open soil is preferable, though it will also grow on heavy soil. On a stony soil, or one made up of clay with flints scattered in it, it will not be a success, as the roots get coarse and forked. No manure should be added to the soil, as forking will also then result, but wood-ash, lime, soot, superphosphates, etc., may be used freely.

The seeds should be sown 1 inch or more deep, 4 inches apart, in drills 9 inches asunder, as early in March as possible, to give a long season for its growth.

The roots may be lifted in October and stored in the same way as Beet, Carrot, etc., or they may remain in the ground until the spring.

Salsafy seed frequently fails, unless kept wet from sowing time till the seedlings are well up.

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---Medicinal Action and Uses---Culpepper says of Purple Goat's Beard:
'The virtues of this are the same as the other, only less pleasant, therefore more bitter, astringent, detersive and medicinal. This, however, may be eaten in great quantities, and so will be useful in chronic complaints. The roots are particularly specific in obstructions of the gall and the jaundice; the best way to use them is stewed like chardoons.'
It ranks as one of the most salubrious of culinary vegetables, being antibilious, cooling, deobstruent, and slightly aperient; but although it is deservedly esteemed as an esculent, it is nevertheless decidedly inferior to Scorzonera in properties, nor does it keep so well when taken out of the ground, as it soon becomes hardened, insipid, and difficult to cook properly.

See GOAT'S BEARD (YELLOW).

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RECIPES

-Baked Salsafy-
Scrape 1 bundle of Salsafy, wash and cut into short pieces, and put into a basin of cold water containing lemon juice or vinegar. Drain and cook in stock or seasoned water till tender. Make a white sauce, put in the Salsafy previously drained and blend both carefully. Place on a buttered dish, pour over the sauce sprinkle breadcrumbs over, add a few small pieces of butter and bake for 10 minutes in a sharp oven.

-Salsafy with Cheese-
Cook and drain and place a layer of Salsafy in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese, then a layer of Bechamel sauce, again a layer of Salsafy, then more cheese and sauce, and sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. Place in a quick oven to get well hot through and brown.

To serve plain boiled, the roots must be scraped lightly first, cut up into two or three portions, and placed in water, with a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar, to prevent them discolouring. Then boiled for an hour, quickly, in salt water till tender, drained and served with a white sauce.

-Stewed Salsafy-
Scrape about 20 heads of Salsafy, cut into pieces about 2 inches long, sprinkle them with salt and steep in water and milk. Cut a small onion, half a carrot, half a turnip and half a head of celery into small pieces. Put these on in a stewpan with 1/4 lb. of lean bacon cut into pieces. Cook for 20 minutes. Mix 1 OZ. flour with a little milk and stir in, fill up with a quart of stock or water, stir and bring to the boil. Put in the Salsafy and let it simmer till tender. Add a tablespoonful of cream, one of chopped parsley, and a little lemon juice. Season with pepper, grated nutmeg and castor sugar. Reheat and arrange the Salsafy neatly on a dish, garnish with button mushrooms, pour over the sauce and serve.

-Salsafy Cream Soup-
Scrape and wash a bundle of Salsafy. Cut it up small and place in a stewpan, with 3 OZ. of butter and a finely-minced onion, and stir for a few minutes. Then moisten with about a quart of white stock, add also 1 OZ. rice. When cooked, drain and pound with the rice and pass all through a fine sieve. Then put the purée with a stock, stir over the fire, boil up the soup, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. At the last add half a gill of cream, 2 beaten-up yolks of eggs, but do not let the soup boil again.

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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.

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