Root vegetables and tubers are very similar in that they are both parts of a plant that grow under ground and whose main function is to store energy for the plant. This stored energy is used by the plant as fuel for growth, propagation and reproduction.
What is a Root Vegetable?
There are many varieties of root vegetables. By definition a root vegetable is the fleshy enlarged root of a plant used as a vegetable.
Common types of root vegetables
- Parsley Root
What is a Tuber Vegetable?
Similar to a root vegetable, tuber vegetables also come in many varieties. Tuber vegetables tend to have large roots and a bulb shape. Rhizomes, corms, and bulbs are in the same family as tuber vegetables.
Common types of tuber vegetables
- Sweet potato
Nutritional Benefits of Roots and Tubers
During the winter, the underground portion of a plant stores vital energy after the leaves die back, which allows the plant to survive the winter and regenerate in the spring. Roots have strong absorption abilities and draw water and minerals from the soil for nourishment. For this reason they are very high in nutrients and an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Tubers tend to have a lower nutrient content but are packed with stored energy and are thus an excellent form of carbohydrates.
How to Cook Roots and Tubers
Most roots can be eaten raw or cooked; tubers, with the exception of jicama, are mostly eaten cooked. You can cook these vegetables in any way that you like including boiling, simmering, steaming, stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, grilling, broiling, stewing, braising and frying.
When purchasing, look for roots and tubers that are firm, heavy, and smooth skinned. If their leaves are attached, they should be crisp and bright green in color. Root vegetables tend to lose what little moisture they have quickly, so they are best stored without their greens, wrapped in a damp paper towel in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Tubers are best stored in a dark, cool, well-ventilated place and not in the refrigerator.