Savoring the Seasons: Winter delights

  • Borscht METRO cREATIVE GRAPHICS

Published: 11/1/2016 2:34:22 PM

There’s nothing like four inches of snow in late October to send a loud “It’s time to stock up for winter!” message. Walking up my snowy driveway last Thursday reminded me how grateful I am to have stored food when winter storms make getting around a challenge.

Sharon Roth also was thinking about stocking up. She asked me to “write or rerun an article about how to ‘save’ the root vegetables and gorgeous squash that are available right now. Especially for those of us with little farm experience but have a garage or some other place we could use to keep some of these lovely veggies for our winter.”

One of the best sources of information on winter storage is “Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables” by Nancy and Mike Bubel (available at book stores and local libraries).

For those of us who don’t have formal or informal root cellars (my basement is heated), there are ways to improvise storage places. One key thing is to know whether the food you want to store needs dry storage or moist storage and the optimal temperatures for keeping that type of produce. I’ve had success most years (except a really unusually cold year) with storing beets in a large camping cooler in my garage (which is attached to my house). Butternut squash and potatoes have stored well in a cool closet in my guest room and butternut squash stored well under the bed in that room.

Last year, my Conway friends Deb and Cayte tried an improvised root cellar technique to store carrots, beets and potatoes they grew in their raised bed gardens. They got new food-grade five-gallon plastic buckets and drilled many small holes in the bottoms of the buckets. They dug holes in the raised beds, big enough to fit the buckets buried just up to the lid (so they could open the lid without dirt falling into the bucket). They filled the buckets with carrots, potatoes, and beets (one type of vegetable per bucket). They put bales of hay on top of the lids (one bale covered two buckets buried next to each other). They covered the bales with plastic and used logs to hold down the plastic. In last year’s mild winter, they still were eating their vegetables in February and March.

Thinking about all those root vegetables inspired me to make borscht!

How do you store vegetables and fruit?

I’m going to buy more potatoes and squash at the upcoming Greenfield Winter Farmers Markets at Four Corners School in Greenfield (21 Ferrante Ave. off Bernardston Road/Route 5). There will be two winter farmers markets in November — Saturday, Nov. 5, and Saturday, Nov. 19., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — and monthly markets on Dec. 3, Jan. 7, Feb. 4 and March 4. For information, visit greenfieldfarmersmarket.com/greenfield-winter-farmers-market.

Many people I know will attend and help out at Cider Days events this coming weekend. It takes many hands to make great events, and a few volunteers may still be needed. If you’re interested, please visit www.ciderdays.org/volunteer-signup-sheet or contact Sara Franzman at sarafranzman@gmail.com.

This Week We’re Eating ...

Hearty Borscht

By Mary McClintock, Conway (adapted from “Moosewood Cookbook” by Mollie Katzen)

Thinly slice several cups each of potatoes and peeled beets. Cook in water until tender. Save the water. In large pot, saute until translucent several cups of chopped onions in butter or olive oil. Add several chopped carrots and several cups of chopped cabbage. Add beet/potato water and cook until all vegetables are tender. Add potatoes, beets, 1 tsp. caraway seeds, 1 tsp. dill weed, 2 T. cider vinegar, 2 T. honey, 1-2 cups of tomato puree or stewed tomatoes.

Cover and simmer slowly for at least 30 minutes (longer is better). Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve topped with sour cream or yogurt and dill weed.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer for Greenfield Community College, brand promoter for Goshen-based local food company Appalachian Naturals and writer/editor for More Than Sound. Send column suggestions and recipes to mmcclinto@yahoo.com


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