Root vegetables is a collective name for vegetables of which the part we eat typically grows underground. This includes several different groups, including those with tubers (potatoes, yams), tuberous storage roots (sweet potatoes, cassava), taproots (parsnips, carrots), and bulbs (onions, garlic).
No matter which group they are from, they all have one thing in common; they are typically storage organs which store energy as either sugars or starch (carbohydrates). The balance between the sugar and the starch largely determines its use; those with a higher starch concentration are typically used as staple foods in much of the world, but particularly in tropical regions. In these regions starchy foods are used more than cereal foods.
Potatoes top the list of highest world wide production, at around 330 million metric tons in 2004, followed by Cassava at 200 million tons and sweet potato at 130 million tons.
Ones with less starch in (such as carrots and parsnips) are sometimes used as an accompaniment to the more starchy ones (carrots, parsnips, onions), at least in Western Countries, or indeed just eaten alone (carrots), or as part of salads (radishes, onions).
- Potato - An old classic and a staple food in many potatoes, how much do you know about potatoes?
- Carrot - Carrots are a root vegetable; the part we eat is a taproot storage organ. They are usually orange in colour, but can also be white, yellow, red and purple.
- Garlic - Nearly 3 million tonnes of garlic is produced globally per year; grown in a similar method to onions
- Jerusalem Artichoke - Not the most common of vegetables, Jerusalem Artichokes are a small tuber, like a potato, but more knobbly and rough
- Kohl Rabi - Related to turnips and swede, kohl rabi is a curious looking orb with stems growing out.
- Onion - Onions come in a range of sizes, from the small shallots, the size of marbles, to large show onions
- Parsnips - Parsnips are best roasted or chipped to eat; their skins cook nicely and contrast well with the sweeter pulp of the vegetable.
- Radish - What salad would be complete without the ever-present radish? Adding it's peppery taste instantly brings out the flavour in any salad bowl
- Shallots - Similar to onions, shallots are very hardy, grow and mature quickly and have a more subtle taster.
- Swede - One of the most hardiest of all root vegetables, Swedes are excellent winter vegetables in a cool climate.