When we say root vegetables, we usually mean carrots, parsley or celery.
But there are many more edible, tasty and healthy roots.
Have you heard of black root or snakebite?
If not, we will be happy to introduce it to you.
Its consumption benefits the heart, brain, digestive system and hair.
You can use it to prepare a whole range of cold and hot dishes.
Come with us in the footsteps of this half-forgotten crop.
What is black root?
A not very well-known root vegetable, whose name refers to the fact that, unlike carrots or parsley, which its appearance most closely resembles, its color is dark brown to black. In addition to the name black root, you can also come across the name Spanish snakehead.
The name is said to be related to the folk belief that if you put this root in the mouth of a snake, it will kill it. By the way, and for this reason, in the past, black root leaves were also used as a “medicine” against snakebite. The Latin name is Scorzonera hispanica.
What does a snakebite look like?
The black root, with its conical shape, resembles a carrot or parsley, its length, depending on the variety, can reach around 40 cm, diameter around 3 cm. The skin is black or dark brown in color and the white pulp is hidden under it.
The black skin of the root is usually removed before consumption. If the black root is disturbed in any way, either by breaking it off or by cutting it, a white thick juice will ooze out, which will dry up after a few minutes.
What does black root taste like?
When transporting food, it is always necessary to prevent the white thick juice from getting into them, as it has a very bitter taste. The black root itself, with its sweet taste, resembles a mixture of parsley and almonds or coconut. However, you may also come across opinions that its taste is reminiscent of oysters, artichokes or asparagus.
What does black root contain?
At first glance, black root is much more caloric compared to other commonly used types of root vegetables, such as parsley, carrots or celery. The reason is primarily the twice as high carbohydrate content, which gives it its typical sweet taste.
Nutritional values of black root
|Raw black root 100 g|| Raw parsley|
| Raw carrot|
|Raw celeriac 100 g|
|Energy||82 kcal||36 kcal||41 kcal||42 kcal|
|Water||77 g||87.7 g||88.3 g||88 g|
|Carbohydrates||18.6 g||6.33 g||9.58 g||9.2 g|
|Proteins||3.3 g||2.97 g||0.93 g||1.5 g|
|Fats||0.2 g||0.79 g||0.24 g||0.3 g|
|Fiber||3.3 g||3.3 g||2.8 g||1.8 g|
Vitamins and minerals
Snake mord is a veritable treasure trove of minerals, including significant amounts of iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and copper. But it also contains a number of vitamins.
|Raw black root 100 g|| Raw parsley|
| Raw carrot|
|Raw celeriac 100 g|
|Beta-carotene||0 µg||5050 µg||8280 µg||0 µg|
|Vitamin B1||0.08 mg||0.086 mg||0.066 mg||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.22 mg||0.098 mg||0.058 mg||0.06 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.5 mg||1.31 mg||0.983 mg||0.7 mg|
|Vitamin B5||0.371 mg||0.4 mg||0.273 mg||0.352 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.277 mg||0.09 mg||0.138 mg||0.165 mg|
|Vitamin C||8 mg||133 mg||5.9 mg||8 mg|
|Potassium||380 mg||554 mg||320 mg||300 mg|
|Phosphorus||75 mg||58 mg||35 mg||115 mg|
|Magnesium||23 mg||50 mg||12 mg||20 mg|
|Sodium||20 mg||56 mg||69 mg||100 mg|
|Calcium||60 mg||138 mg||33 mg||43 mg|
|Zinc||0.38 mg||1.07 mg||0.24 mg||0.33 mg|
|Iron||0.7 mg||6.2 mg||0.3 mg||0.7 mg|
Why include black root in the diet?
Thanks to many vitamins, minerals and high fiber content, regular consumption of black root helps to prevent a number of health problems.
- Digestive system – this root vegetable contains a large amount of soluble and insoluble fiber, which has a positive effect on our intestines. One of the problems that regular consumption of black root helps to prevent is constipation. In addition, black root has a positive effect on other organs, such as the liver, gall bladder or pancreas .
- Cardiovascular disease and brain health – high in potassium and low in sodium, black root can significantly improve blood pressure problems by relaxing blood vessels, reducing stress on the cardiovascular system and preventing blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
- Bone and joint health – black root contains a significant amount of minerals. This helps prevent common age-related diseases, such as osteoporosis and arthritis, which can occur when bones begin to degrade and connective tissue ceases to maintain the integrity of joints.
- Immune system – black root is one of the best sources of inulin in the diet. Inulin is a type of polysaccharide that behaves similarly to fiber in the gut. It offers a number of health benefits, most of which are attributed to inulin’s ability to stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria that live in the large intestine. These bacteria are important not only for proper digestion, but also for our immune system. Thanks to the inulin content, the consumption of black root is also suitable for diabetics. Of course, vitamin C also strengthens the immune system.
- Improves blood circulation and hair health – the high iron and copper content means that your blood circulation will improve as both iron and copper are essential for the formation of red blood cells. More red blood cells means better oxygenation of important tissues and organs, including hair follicles. Black root has been shown to stimulate hair regrowth. In addition, copper is associated with increasing hair strength and reducing premature graying.
- Poultices – black root leaves can be used as poultices for problems with rheumatism, hemorrhoids or various skin problems.
How to prepare black root?
One of the advantages of this root vegetable is that it can be prepared in many ways, from salads with raw root to boiling or stewing to baking or frying. Black root combines well with dairy products, such as butter, cream and cheese, as well as with other vegetables or herbs, such as bay leaf or thyme. In addition to the root, the young leaves can also be consumed.
To peel or not to peel?
The thick black skin of black root is usually considered inedible and can be removed either before or after cooking. If the skin is removed before cooking, the peeled root should be immersed immediately in water mixed with vinegar or lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
If we don’t do this, the root will turn brown. Since the snake mord produces a sticky white juice when the root is broken, it is preferable to peel it only after 20 to 25 minutes of boiling. If you want to consume black root raw, scald it with hot water before peeling.
What to cook from snakebite?
- Black root is often eaten together with other vegetables such as peas and carrots. You can steam or stew it together with them and serve it as a healthy side dish to meat dishes.
- You can cut the raw black root into rounds or grate it and liven up carrot salads with it . If you want to consume black root raw, it is recommended to use young roots.
- Black root served like asparagus in a white sauce, for example béchamel or mustard, is very tasty. Do you know how to prepare the best béchamel sauce that will delight your taste buds?
- Boiled snake mord can be very easily mixed into a puree, which can be served either as a side dish or used, for example, to thicken sauces. You can also add it to various celery recipes , especially to cream soups, celery puree or patties.
- Boiled black root can also be wrapped in a three-pack of dough and fried like a schnitzel.
- If you like to bake, you can also grate black root into carrot cake recipes . The dough will acquire a delicious taste and become more elastic.
- If you have a weakness for zucchini spaghetti or noodles, you will surely be interested to know that “pasta” can also be made from black root in a similar way.
- Last but not least, you can add snakebite to the taste of various vegetable soups or add it to spreads.
- Black root leaves can either be added to a salad or cooked similarly to spinach .
Cultivation of black root
The black root belongs to the extensive star family, so it is related to, for example, dandelion or sunflower. It originally comes from areas of southern Europe and the Middle East. It has been used as a vegetable and medicinal plant in Europe and Asia since the Middle Ages.
During the time of overseas discoveries, it was brought to North America, where it became popular in the 18th century. Currently, the largest producers of snakebite are the countries of the European Union, especially Belgium, France and the Netherlands. It is cultivated only exceptionally in the Czech Republic.
The plant usually grows to a height of around 60-70 cm. Three main varieties of black root are usually distinguished by the shape of the leaves.
- Scorzonera hispanica Latifolia – with wide ellipse-shaped leaves
- Scorzonera hispanica Glastifolia – with elongated lanceolate leaves
- Scorzonera hispanica Strictifolia – with thin leaves
Flowering usually takes place from June to September, the flowers have a deep yellow color. The flowers later form an axilla, which contains white, smooth seeds.
How to grow your own snake mord?
Since we unfortunately don’t see this vegetable very often on store shelves, black root can usually only be found at farmer’s markets or organic farms, it is best to grow it yourself in the garden. If possible, choose a sunny place for it with moist sandy loam soil, which must be well dug up and compost added to it before sowing. If there are pebbles in the soil, the roots could twist.
The seeds are sown in rows similar to carrots, approximately 1 cm deep. The usual time for sowing is the turn of February and March. As with other root vegetables, regular watering and care is necessary during growth, weak seedlings must be pulled out. Black root is usually harvested late in the fall to give it enough time to develop a long, strong root.