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Savoring the Seasons

Savoring the Seasons: Tasty lessons

By MARY MCCLINTOCK

I love learning, especially my own “experiential” learning or learning from the experiences of others. And, I love passing along what I learn. So, when Ann Butynski of Butynski Farm in Greenfield told me about storing beets in a camping cooler in her garage, I gave it a try. For several years, that’s how I’ve stored beets and they’ve kept very well into the late spring.

Recently, I’ve heard from two friends — John Hoffman of Wilder Brook Farm in Charlemont and Nancy Hazard of Greenfield — who each tried the cooler-in-garage storage system. For both of them, their beets froze solid. John said his turned to mush and Nancy said her beets had an almost “lace-like” texture where layers of beet separated from the ice.

Bummer! John has a good root cellar, so he’s gone back to storing beets in his root cellar. Nancy’s root cellar is warmer than is good for storing beets, so that’s why she tried the cooler system.

Why do my beets store well and theirs don’t? I don’t think my cooler is anything special. My garage is uninsulated and attached to my house. The cooler sits on wooden steps by the back door, a few feet above the cement floor. Perhaps not being on the floor and the garage being attached makes a difference. Perhaps more insulation wrapped around the cooler would help.

Perhaps it isn’t the best system for everyone. Carol Grossman said she has one beet left from a drawer-full she’s had in her refrigerator since the fall. She said they kept very well.

Perhaps you have a freezer but no root cellar and a friend has a root cellar but no freezer. Talk to your friends about creative storage solutions! Please share what you learn!

Or, shop for beets and other winter storage vegetables at local winter farmers markets and at Green Fields Market. Many local vegetable farmers now store their produce and sell through the winter.

When I asked Caroline Pam for her Winter Fare Soup Cafe recipe (see below), she reminded me that they sell their new line of farm-fresh prepared foods at the Amherst winter market every Saturday and at the next Greenfield winter farmers market on March 16. They use their own vegetables, eggs, and herbs, plus Four Star Farms pastry flour and cornmeal, Apex Orchards fruit, and dairy from Mapleline Farm. They also offer their prepared foods for catering farm-inspired special events. Check out www.kitchengardenfarm.com.

Bringing Nature Home: Western Mass. Master Gardener Association Spring Gardening Symposium, Saturday, March 16, 8:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., Frontier Regional High School, South Deerfield. Keynote speaker: Doug Tallamy. Workshops. $35 for entire day; optional lunch additional. Most workshops fill quickly, register early! For information and to register, visit http://wmassmastergardeners.org.

This Week We’re Eating …

SWEET POTATO CURRY SOUP

By Caroline Pam, The Kitchen Garden, Sunderland and Hadley

4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 large onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 T. butter

4 T. olive oil (or omit butter and use 4 T. oil for vegan recipe)

½ tsp. red chili flakes

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. turmeric

2 qts. vegetable stock

1 can coconut milk

1 T. lemon juice

1 tsp. cider vinegar

1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated

salt and pepper to taste

Toss sweet potatoes in 2 T. oil, spread out on baking sheet and roast in oven at 400 degrees until soft and lightly browned on edges. Saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery in butter and oil until soft. Add chili flakes, garam masala and turmeric and saute another few minutes. Add sweet potatoes to vegetables and cover with vegetable stock and simmer an hour or until very soft. Puree with immersion blender until smooth. Add coconut milk, lemon juice, vinegar, and ginger. Gently heat and season with salt and pepper.

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