Agriculture Seasonal Recipes

November 28, 2014 at 11:14 am

Putting Up your Fall Harvest: Root Vegetables

This series is for farmers, gardeners, or anyone overloaded with produce. Written by Monica Johnson, a woman who farmed her way from Brooklyn, NY to her current home in Deep East Texas, “Putting Up Your Harvest” is full of tips and tricks to keep your food waste down and your culinary enjoyment lasting throughout the colder seasons. Enjoy these clever ways to preserve your fruitful harvest. 

A root vegetable is a plant whose root, or underground part of the plant, is used as a vegetable. There are several types of root vegetables including taproots (carrots), (Link: http://www.foodpolitic.com/putting-up-your-fall-harvest-carrots-and-beets/) bulbs (fennel) and tuberous roots (potatoes).

These roots store energy, or carbohydrates, for the plant and are used as staples in many tropical climates. In Polynesia, a sticky paste, called poi is made from the taro root. Because root vegetables are underground, they tend to survive adverse weather conditions better than parts of the plant above the ground, so they are good to grow during cold months.

This is good news for me, since I still have my sprouting potato pieces in a bag, waiting to be planted. I should have planted them weeks ago (a theme this fall), but fingers crossed, they will sprout more potatoes once planted.

Besides planting directly in to the ground, you can plant roots vegetables in containers including laundry baskets and trash bags. They are easy to harvest, just reach in a pull them out!

Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

 

Here are six tips to store and enjoy your root vegetables in the cold months:

1. Leave them in the ground. Though this seems the easiest choice, it does require some work. When temperatures get too cold you’ll need to mulch them, add blankets, or add row covers to keep them warm. However, in pretty warm zones you may be able to get away with doing very little.

2. Store them inside. You can store root vegetables in sand, but there are other ways that work well too. Just make sure you have some sort of insulation that keeps moisture away.

3. Freeze them. It’s as easy as wash, blanch and freeze. Some root vegetables are better blanched whole, like beets and onions. Once they cool down, peel them and then cut to desired shape. Other root vegetables, like, potatoes, carrots and turnips, are should be peeled and cut, then blanched. You can also cook them, puree and freeze. Add the puree to soups for thickness.

4. Can them. This is not my favorite way to consume root vegetables, but if you have a lot, you can put them up by canning them. You will need to use a pressure canner to can them, since root vegetables have a low acid level and the pressure canner kills bad bacteria.

5. Dry them. Dice and dry them and use in soups, casseroles or quiches. You can also slice and season them to make tasty chips.

6. Make Soup. There is nothing better than a root vegetable soup during the wintertime. Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers.

-Monica Johnson