Now’s the time of year I generally like to write about two things: winter storage crops and eating locally for the holidays.
This year is no exception. I love the root vegetables we’re able to grow and store here in the North Country. Hopefully you were able to visit the farmers’ markets and stock up before the markets closed. It’s not too late – some markets are open through the holiday season or even through the winter. Visit www.adirondackharvest.com for an up-to-date listing of regional farmers’ markets.
What’s available now for root vegetables? We’ve got winter squash from acorn to butternut to Delicata (although the latter won’t last long in your root cellar so try to use it up soon!) Don’t forget that pumpkins are also a squash and make delicious eating – I just made a large batch of creamy curried pumpkin soup to freeze for mid-winter comfort meals.
Potatoes grow well locally and there are so many varieties to choose from including those with skins of red, white, blue and yellow. Carrots and beets are wonderfully sweet additions to the root cellar, although I have to say on our farm they store much better in a spare refrigerator. We harvest these treats directly into plastic grocery bags, clinging soil and all. The bags are loosely tied at the top to provide some air circulation but still keep the veggies from drying out. Our carrots and beets last for at least six months in this way.
The alliums are an essential component of the well-stocked root cellar. If onions and shallots have been properly cured you can enjoy them right into the late winter (except for the super sweet varieties). We layer ours on old bread trays and stack them in a cool corner of our basement. Leeks are harvested, cleaned and stored in the spare ‘fridge. And garlic! It’s the only commercial crop we still produce on our farm, about 10,000 heads each year. We sell most of it as seed garlic to other local farms, but still end up with pounds of it to enjoy for many months.