Welcome to winter eating in New England. While we have put together a fairly diverse group of storage crops for you, we know from personal experience that it can be a fun challenge to keep putting together interesting meals. There are, in fact, several different ways to prepare most of the storage crops, and together with the varying flavors and textures of these crops, it is possible to achieve a higher level of diversity than is immediately apparent. We have a section on the website where you can post your favorite recipes; we’d love to have more recipes posted up there. Go to http://www.simplegiftsfarmcsa.com/RecipeDirectory.cfm to check it out! Below, we provide a description of our favorite general techniques, along with our favorite candidates for each technique, followed by a description of each of the crops along with a forecast for this year’s supply.
Boiled in soups or stews: A nice warm soup or stew is just the thing for a cold winter night. All of our storage crops can go into these, and mixing them adds flavor to the whole pot as well as diverse nutrition and a sequence of flavors in the chunks. Blending the soup can change the whole thing to a thicker, smoother experience. Our favorites: Potato, Carrot, Celeriac, Beet, Turnip, Parsnip, Squash
Mashed: If you boil a mixture of roots, and mash them like mashed potatoes, you get a special twist on a favorite comfort food. Don’t skimp on the butter or olive oil. We recommend at least 50% potatoes or sweet potatoes. Our Favorites: Potato, Sweet Potato, Celeriac, Beet, Turnip, Parsnip, Squash.
Roasted or “oven-fried”: Roasted roots are a favorite of our kids. Baking them at 375-400 in long, skinny shapes in a single layer with a generous coat of olive oil and salt makes them more like an oven fry. We also like to bake them for about 3 hours at 450, with a combination of water, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and spices (see the recipe “Greek Potatoes” on the website. Keep adding water so that the roots are covered for the first 2 hours, and then uncover and let the water boil off for the last hour. This takes some time, but is really fantastic. Our favorites: Potato, Sweet potato, Beet, Celeriac.
Grated or thin-sliced salad: something raw and crunchy can really chase away those winter blues. Roots can be grated over your greenhouse greens, or made into a “slaw”-type salad of their own. We like lemon juice or vinegar and olive oil instead of mayonnaise for slaws. Slicing crunchy roots into matchsticks and serving them with dip is another winner, especially with the kids. Our favorites: Carrot, Beet, Kohlrabi, Celeriac, Daikon.
Your winter share:
Following is a list of what you’ll be getting from us over the course of the winter. Store everything in your fridge, unless otherwise indicated below.
Salad greens (Simple Gifts Farm, Certified Organic):
We offer salad greens as a special treat during the winter. The greenhouses are all planted; we have a heated greenhouse that will provide salad for the depths of the winter, and five unheated greenhouses that will provide fresh greens for the slightly milder months (December, February and March). We have also added two “caterpillar tunnels,” and a whole field section in “low tunnels;” lower cost alternatives to building a whole greenhouse. Many people are surprised that it is possible to grow greens without heat in the winter here; the trick is to plant things that can really take some cold, and plant them early enough that they can grow while we still have some daylength. We also have some plantings that went in later and are just teeny seedlings waiting for the longer days of February. These little seedlings will provide greens, scallions, radishes, and other treats for the upcoming Spring share. You are guaranteed at least 10 one-half pound bags over the course of the winter share. We try to mix it up so that sometimes you will get salad greens and other times spinach or arugula. We have more salad greens planted this year, so there will likely often be extra greens for sale.
Winter Squash (Czajkowski Farm, Certified organic):
We have butternut squash this year. We’ll be giving you your whole share at once, since the squash takes very different storage conditions then the other storage crops–you can store a box of them much more cheaply than we can store crates of them. These are best stored at room temperature (a little cooler is better if you have a cool basement or attic that won’t freeze) after you get them home.
Potatoes (Simple Gifts Farm, and Red Fire Farm, Certified Organic): This year our potatoes are almost all the “Keuka
Gold” variety. Keukas are similar to the famous Yukon Gold, butr were bred at Cornell for production in the Northeast and in organic cropping systems. Not everyone realizes it, but potatoes are high in Vitamins A and C and Potassium; they are true vegetables and not just starch! We also have a little bit of All-Blues, which are rich in those anti-oxidants we are all supposed to be eating more of. If you cook them just until they are done, the purple color will hold better.
Carrots (Simple Gifts Farm and Red Fire Farm, Certified Organic):
We have nice sweet carrots this year, though our yields suffered from the hot dry conditions in late summer when we were trying to get them to germinate. We have some of ours, and got some additional carrots in from Atlas Farm as well.
Beets (Simple Gifts Farm, Certified Organic, and Crimson and Clover Farm, Chemical free): Try baking them—the skin should peel right off. They are also nice grated into a salad or as the featured ingredient in borscht. There’s something about eating colorful food that takes the edge of a grey winter day, and beets are perhaps the most colorful vegetable there is!
Onions (Simple Gifts Farm, Certified Organic): There should be plenty of these for the winter. Onions like cold and dry conditions; don’t put them in the vegetable drawer in your fridge.
Sweet potatoes (Simple Gifts Farm, Certified Organic):
Use these up quick because they will not store for the whole winter. They make a nice change to any of your potato routines—try making some oven fries the next time you want a side dish for hot dogs or burgers (or not dogs or veggie burgers). Store these at room temperature, in a dry, dark place.
Turnip (Simple Gifts Farm, Certified Organic):
We have several different kinds of turnips this year. Along with the typical purple-tops, which are nice mashed with potatoes or in a stew, we have Scarlet Queens, and Gold Balls, which are both particularly sweet and therefore nice grated onto a salad.
Celeriac (Simple Gifts Farm, Certified Organic):
Not everyone is familiar with these: cook them like a potato, and then appreciate their aromatic flavor which is like celery but so much more. We hope you come to love them like we do. We tend to put 20% celeriac into anything we are doing with potatoes; mashed, roasted, stews, or home fries are particularly great.
Parsnip (Simple Gifts Farm, Certified Organic):
These are like a sweet, aromatic carrot, with a slightly starchier texture. They aren’t usually eaten raw, and are nice with a sweet mustard glaze.
Rutabaga (Simple Gifts Farm, Certified Organic):
These are like a turnip, but much sweeter and creamier. They are great mashed with potatoes or winter squash. Parsnips and rutabaga are both crops we have struggled with in the past, but that came in great this year!
Kohlrabi (Red Fire Farm, Certified Organic):
These are a recent discovery for us; they are sweet and delicious thin-sliced or grated in a salad. They can also be lightly sautéed or stir-fried. They are the same species as broccoli, and taste a little bit like a sweeter broccoli stem.
Cabbage (Riverland Farm, Certified Organic): We got a nice load of cabbage from our neighbors at Riverland Farm. They keep surprisingly well, though you may want to peel a layer off of them late in the winter.
Watermelon or Daikon Radish (Simple Gifts Farm, Certified Organic): These are both great for a grated raw salad. The watermelon radish is an unassuming pale green on the outside, with a stunning psychedelic red interior. The flavor is sweet, and the skins are a little spicy, so peel them if you want the mild flavor. Daikons define mild flavor—the white roots are nice grated in a slaw with some carrots and other roots. They also make a great lacto-fermented pickle—if you make these, please post a recipe on the website