Note: This post the product of a farmer itching for the snow to melt, of Lisa Richardson’s gentle encouragement to not be ashamed by my lack of posts since last May, and also a plug for a new page on our farm website that talks about VEGETABLES.
It tries to answer questions like “What’s this?” or “How can I cook that?” or “Can I freeze these?” that I get asked from time to time as a CSA farmer. I also admit to eating cabbage for breakfast on a regular basis. Feel free to have a look if you’d like. http://fourbeatfarm.ca/news/
Now, to ramble…
Last week, the spare room where I store my personal supply of winter produce had its annual conversion into a spring “grow room” for this year’s seedlings. Anyone else have ~8000 allium roommates right now? No? Oh well, just me then. We will be co-habitating for a few weeks until the seedling greenhouse gets set-up and temperatures climb a bit.
Because of this new roommate situation that I have come to believe is normal, I spent a few hours picking through the bins of winter storage vegetables. Since I haven’t been to the produce section of the grocery store all winter, there wasn’t much left. I salvaged the best to cram into the fridge and imminent meals, and that about took care of it. Let me begin by saying that, despite my attention to detail when it comes to processing and storing vegetables in the main farming season (destined for CSA and farmers market shoppers), my winter set-up for personal use is…well…simple. Or lacking. Depends how you look at it. Let’s call it “rustic” to be nice.
It’s a small room in the house. It’s separated off and slightly insulated by a blanket over the doorway to avoid wasting woodstove heat from the hallway. The window stays cracked open to let in cold air and keep the bins of veggies comfy. When we get a cold snap, I make the crack smaller. When we get a mid-winter thaw, I open the window a bit more. If I remember.
This has successfully kept beets, carrots, turnips, watermelon radishes, cabbages, rutabaga, celery root, kohlrabi potatoes and onions in fine shape until at least early March. There are some sprouty bits. Occasionally one will turn to mush and cause a small amount of slime to touch those around it. These now-slimey neighbours get rinsed off and put in soup or fed to the draft horses (onions exempt, they go direct to compost and bypass the horse trough).
By March, things kept in such un-fancy conditions tend to look a little tired. Rutabagas are starting to sprout wild hairstyles. Celery roots are looking a bit shrivelled. But the cabbages? Oh, the cabbages. They’re like a breath of fresh air. Dozens of them have been sitting in a Rubbermaid bin in the house for nearly four months and they are still crunchy, juicy, sweet, and willing to join in to up the freshness factor of just about any meal.
If you’re looking for ideas about vegetables, recipes, or curious about how this particular farmer likes to eat her veggies year-round, I’d welcome you to check out a resource we are growing to help our friends and CSA members with the age-old question “What is this?” (holds up a cabbage shaped like a cone, an alien-resembling kohlrabi, or a yellow beet).
Seriously though, those cabbages. They’re just what a farmer needs this time of year.