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The Lost Gardens of Heligan sucessfully harvests a rare root vegetable

We’re stepping back in time at The Lost Gardens, as we are celebrating the harvest of some very rare vegetables, that have been described as ‘lost for centuries’.

Skirret is believed to have been first cultivated by the Romans, despite the root vegetable being native to East Asia. It became popular in medieval times and was used mainly in Tudor cookery.

During this time, sugar was classed as luxury as it was so expensive to buy, therefore Skirret was prized on its sweet flavour. In fact, the word ‘Skirret’ derives from the Dutch word ‘suikerwortel’ which means ‘sugar root’.

Skirret would be difficult to manage in industrial-scale agriculture and that is one of the main reasons why it disappeared from our dinner plates for so long. The seed must be sown in rich, damp soil or the roots may become woody. But thanks to the love and attention of the Gardeners at Heligan, we were able to propagate from the seed.

The plant also makes an attractive addition to flower patches with its bundles of delicate white flowers. Although, it is the long, twisting, almost pearlescent root below the surface that is the real showstopper.

Of course, the Heligan Team were very eager to try this odd-looking vegetable. It was indeed sweet like a parsnip, yet unexpectedly peppery, and had an after taste of carrot.

Glazed Skirret and Skirret Pye seem to be popular recipes with those lucky enough to experience the renaissance of this root.

We have challenged the Heligan Kitchen to channel their inner Tudor and create something sensational with the Skirret and we simply cannot wait to feast like Henry 8th.

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