October 15, 2012

Area harvest still producing

AMY IVY, Cornell Cooperative Extension

---- — The days and nights are getting chilly and the days are getting shorter, but the harvest isn’t over yet. 

Spinach, lettuce and Brussels sprouts thrive in these cool conditions, and later plantings of broccoli and kale are still going strong. Brussels sprouts and kale actually improve in flavor after being exposed to a couple of hard frosts. 

Your winter squash should be all in now; you do not want to expose them to frost. These hard-skinned squash will store best at temperatures in the 50s, no lower. Room temperature is OK, but a little cooler is better if possible. Onions, leeks, garlic, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, cabbage, carrots and beets are all long keepers. They have different storage needs, so it helps to read up on them in order to maximize how long you can hold them. 

Regular potatoes will turn green if exposed to light for more than a few hours, so keep them covered or in a dark cupboard. The green parts are poisonous, even if cooked, but you can just cut the green sections away, and the remaining white sections are fine.

Carrots and beets need cool, humid conditions, so place them first into loosely closed plastic bags then store them in your refrigerator. Onions and garlic do best with temperatures either just above freezing or at room temperature. Do not store either of these in your refrigerator.

I still have green tomatoes on my kitchen counter that I picked when a frost threatened. Most of these will ripen up just fine right there. They do not need or want a sunny windowsill to ripen. If you have a lot, you can even store them in a cardboard box with sheets of newspaper between each layer. Just be sure to check them every few days and compost any that begin to crack or rot. Do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator; they do best at room temperature.

Most of the farmers markets are closed for the season, but there will be a winter farmers market again in Plattsburgh at the City Recreation Center on the Old Base Oval on Saturdays from Oct. 20 to Dec. 22. For more information about that market, visit

You can also check our Local Food Guide to contact individual farmers about what products they still have available, or visit to search for particular items and sources.

In response to all the enthusiastic feedback we got after our Food From the Farm dinner last March, we’ve decided to offer a local food event quarterly, each one a little different from the other. Our next local food event will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at SUNY Plattsburgh. The meal will be planned, prepared and served by the college’s culinary arts students and will feature local food. This dinner is part of our annual meeting. For details about this event, see today’s Home Briefs.

Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County, 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; Franklin County, 483-7403. Website: Email questions to