05 November 2007

food for thought

As I was cooking supper this evening, I got to thinking about winter vegetable storage. I had prepared an oven roasted winter vegetable mix...Yumm! I'll give you the recipe later. For now, if you are storing root vegetables or tubers (ie, potatoes, carrots) use the following recommendations: wash and gently scrub the vegetables and store them either in perforated plastic bags or a plastic container or pail. They should be kept at 31-33 degrees F with high humidity. Check the moisture content weekly and adjust the lid accordingly. You don't want them to dry out, nor do you want to see water droplets on them. If stacking layers of vegetables in the pail or container, stack each layer in the opposite direction to maximize air circulation. Cabbages: Store similar fashion as root vegetables. Just keep them cold. If they freeze slightly, they should still be OK. Just let them thaw out for a couple of days before using. They should be fine. Storing Onions: Onions and shallots can be stored at the same temperature as the root vegetables, but don't keep them in humid conditions. They are better off if kept dry. Use large boxes to store them or mesh bags. Brussel Sprouts: Brussel Sprouts may be harvested by chopping the entire stalk from the base of the plant. Store them much the same as cabbage. Remove the leaves from the stalk. They should store for about a month. If you pull the plant from the ground with the roots and stand them upright in some moistened soil they should last a bit longer. Leeks: Leeks should be harvested with the roots intact. Trim the top of the leaves back (you only cook with the white and pale green portion of the leek) and keep the roots in moistened soil where it is cold and humid, like the root vegetables. Squash: Squash, including pumpins, should remain cool and dry, not humid. Temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees F are great. Tomatoes: Keep tomatoes cool, but not cold (tomatoes should never be refrigerated as it changes the physiology of the tomato, and hence, the flavor). 45-65 degrees F should be sufficient. You can pick the last of the tomato crop while it is still green, and it will eventually ripen. On the farm, just before we are due for frost, we pick all we can bring in, then pack the tomatoes in 20 pound boxes with covers on them. Tomatoes give off a gas called ethylene as they ripen. This causes the tomatoes ripen further. One year, we stored the boxes of tomatoes in special room and piped in pure ethylene to ripen them. They were absolutely delicious and tasted just like vine-ripened tomatoes! Many large commercial growers gas-ripen tomatoes on a regular basis. Chances are, unless the sign at the grocery store says vine-ripened, they were probably gas-ripened. Check on your stored vegetables on a regular basis and remove any that are past their usefulness.
If you liked this information, I should provide proper credit....we receive a professional grower newsletter from Johnny's Selected Seeds. They also offer a home gardener's website and are offering bulbs on sale now (we do not sell bulbs or seed at our own retail greenhouse). Johnny's web address is http://www.johnnyseeds.com/Home.aspx
Now for my winter squash recipe! In this recipe, I included beets, onions, turnips, carrots and parsnips. You can use a mix of whatever you like. When you chop the vegetables, just keep them about the same size, so they cook evenly. I like to coarsely chop them, so there are large chunks of vegetables. Then season them with salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and garlic (I used both fresh and powdered garlic, and whatever assortment of vegetables I'm using, I always include onions). Drizzle them with olive oil and toss to coat evenly, then oven roast them in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for about an hour to an hour and a half. I served them with baked pork chops and my mom's escarole and bean soup. What a heartwarming meal with bread and a glass of red wine! (Red's my favorite!) Mom's Escarole Soup: Saute onion and garlic in a large saucepan and add one large head of washed, chopped escarole. Continue to saute until escarole is wilted. Then add 5 cans of chicken stock (14oz cans) and a 14 oz can of white beans. Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Delicious and healthy! I hope you have found this information useful this fall and enjoy the recipes! Write me back with your comments and suggestions or any questions you may have and I'll publish them here!

2 comments:

  1. Hey I love the site!!! I'm looking for a great reciepe for eggplant salad? Gail Manorville

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great! Thanks Gail....will post that today!

    ReplyDelete

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