Skirret: the forgotten Tudor vegetable


File_000The sweetest, whitest and most pleasant of roots,

– John Worlidge, The Art of Gardening.

Having been forgotten for centuries, the sweet root vegetable which was beloved by many Tudor diners only recently returned to Hampton Court Palace. The skirret was everything that we love in a vegetable: tasty, unfussy when it comes to soils, disease and frost resistant. Instead, its downfall came from the fact that it could not be grown as a commercial crop.

Nobody knows exactly what Henry VIII himself ate… It was his secret.

– Marc Meltonville, food historian at Historic Royal Palaces

Unfortunately for both the skirret and the diners who loved it, the vegetable was fiddly to prepare, difficult to harvest and fairly low-yield, so it simply did not thrive when the world turned to commercial farming. Instead, it was replaced by our beloved potatoes and slightly-less-beloved parsnips. Removed from the English daily diet, the…

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