Salsify is called vegetable oyster because of its faint oyster-like flavor. This name is used interchangeably to describe two roots. White salsify is pale, thin, forked, has rootlets at the bottom, while black salsify (scorzonera) looks like a brown carrot and is much smoother and longer looking. Popular in Europe since the 16th century, this root has just begun to make its appearance in markets.
This root is available from fall to early spring. Select medium size roots that are smooth and firm. Larger roots are more fibrous and smaller roots have less meat. White salsify is sold in bunches with leaves still attached. Black salsify is usually sold without leaves and in plastic bags. Salsify will last 2 weeks wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator. Prepare salsify by scrubbing with a brush, removing the skin, rootlets, and all dark spots. Trim the tops and bottoms and slice as you would a carrot or leave whole. Avoid overcooking this root as it will quickly turn into mush.