Storage tips for hardy winter vegetables in the CSA
Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes:
Treat the tubers very gently so as not to bruise or cut them. Nestle your spuds into ventilated bins, bushel baskets, a root storage bin or a cardboard box with perforated sides. Completely cover the boxes or baskets with newspaper or cardboard to eliminate any light. Even a little light will cause potatoes to turn green and be rendered inedible. The ideal storage temperature for potatoes is 35 to 40 degrees, though they will usually keep for several months at 45 to 50 degrees. Don’t store the ones that are nicked or have bad spots. Only store the good ones. Don’t wash them, as they will get moldy. A basement seems to be the best place here in NY if there is an extremely cold winter – the garage can sometimes be TOO cold.
The optimum long-term storage temperature for garlic is 35 to 40 degrees F. In warmer temperatures, garlic will begin to sprout. Dryness and complete darkness are essential. You can store them in a paper bag in the basement with your potatoes.
You’ll see best storage results when you stash squash in a cool, dry spot. For most winter squash, store at 50º to 55º F with relative humidity of 60 to 70 percent. The one exception is acorn squash (which stores only for about a month) which should be kept at temperatures less than 55 (in the fridge). Higher temperatures cause the flesh to become stringy. Avoid storing squash in higher humidity, which can promote rots to start. Check your stored squash monthly to identify and use up any fruit that shows sign of decay.
Carrots and Beets:
For refrigerator storage, lie similar-sized, same-variety vegetables in a single layer in gallon freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible before sealing each bag. Stack bags flat on a shelf or in a drawer in the refrigerator. Check monthly for decay and use those first. Beets will stay hard and sweet for five months or more; carrots should last almost as long. Should there be fine root hairs or a little decay, simply peel this off; the root itself will be fine. Carrots and beets can be shredded raw into salads, or can be parboiled, added to soups or stews, or roasted.
A second technique is to store these crops in moist sand. Prepare the carrots or beets as above. Moisten clean sand in a large container or wheelbarrow. Pack the vegetables into a tub, wooden box, 5-gallon bucket, plastic-lined cardboard box, or a root storage bin. Start by placing several inches of moist sand on the bottom of the storage container. Lay vegetables on the sand in a single layer, not touching each other. Cover them completely with sand and continue layering until box or bin is full. Top with a layer of moist sand. Container will be heavy when full, so plan accordingly. Remove the stored vegetables as needed.
Turnips, Korean Moo & Daikon:
These can all be store just like carrots, with a little more moisture (fewer holes in the bag or wetter sand).
Cabbage can be stored, like potatoes and garlic, at about 35 to 40 degrees with 90% humidity. You want to be careful where you store cabbage because it emits a gas, ethylene, that can hasten the ripening of other fruits and vegetables in close proximity. Therefore, store these heads upside down in a cardboard box or another enclosed box with ventilation but relatively high humidity, away from other storage vegetables and fruits (especially apples). When you use it, just peel back the rotting layers on the outside and the tight inside head will be perfectly fine and sweet!
Store apples in a ventilated plastic bag, preferably in the produce, or humidified drawer of your refrigerator, works best. If you are storing apples in large amounts in a basement or garage, cover the box or basket with a clean heavy damp cloth to prevent shriveling. The old saying one bad apple spoils the barrel it literally is true, so always remove overripe fruit promptly. Boxed apples need to be kept in a cool, dark spot where they won't freeze. Freezing ruptures all of an apple's cells, turning it into one large bruise overnight.
Tips for preserving your CSA harvest
3 pounds fresh small whole beets (use similar size beets)* * Small beets can be pickled whole. Larger beets can be sliced in 1/4-inch slices or diced.
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Use tender, freshly picked beets - wash, rinse and drain until all traces of garden soil are removed. Use a small vegetable brush if needed. Cut off leaves and stems, leaving about 1 inch of the root end. Place beets in large heavy pan and cover with water. Bring just to a boil; reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Let beets cool until you can safely handle them. Once cooled, you can peel them; the skin of a cooked beet will slip right off. (However, it's wise to use a paper towel or wear gloves to keep the beet juice from staining your hands.) Then either leave whole or cut the beets in slices.
To Make Pickling Brine:
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, whole allspice, whole cloves, and cinnamon; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar melts. Reduce heat and let the pickling brine simmer approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain spices out of the liquid (optional).
NOTE: Some people like to keep the spices in the liquid.
Canning the Beets:
Have clean pint-sized sterilized canning jars ready to use. Prepare two-piece lids and rings according to instructions on lid box.
Pack peeled and trimmed trimmed beets into the hot canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Carefully pour hot pickling brine into each jar, covering beets, and allowing 1/4-inch headspace. Run a thin spatula through jars to remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims with a damp paper towel. Add caps and bands. Place filled jars on a rack in a water bath canner. The tops of the jars should be covered with 1-inch of water. Process for 30 minutes in boiling water canner. Begin timing as soon as the water begins to boil.
Store jars in a cool, dark place and let set for 6-8 weeks before opening. Consume within 8 months.
Pickled Carrots: Same recipe as above in terms of the brine and canning process. Slice carrots into long matchsticks the length of the jars you are using and boil them for about 10 minutes only. Continue with the same process as above with beets.
Coconut Curried Butternut Squash Soup:
· 3 lb butternut squash (or substitute with acorn squash, delicata squash, pumpkin, etc.)
· 2 large leeks, chopped
· 2 apples, peeled and halved
· 2 large cloves garlic, minced
· 3 cups vegetable stock
· 1 can coconut milk
· 2 teaspoons curry powder
· 1 inch diced ginger
· 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
· salt and pepper to taste
· 3 tbsp butter
· ½ cup chopped cilantro
· 1 cup Greek yogurt
· 1 tbsp vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Save for another use or discard. Spread about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on the bottom of a roasting tray and place the squash halves cut side-down on the tray. Cut the apples and place them face down as well. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh feels soft when poked and it has shrunken away from the skins a bit. Flip over and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out all the flesh and reserve in a bowl.
Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottomed pot with the butter and sweat the leeks and garlic over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder, ginger, optional cayenne, and cook, stirring occasionally, another 4-5 minutes. Add the roasted squash, apples, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Stir to combine thoroughly and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes or so. Add the cilantro and using an emulsifier, puree the soup to a smooth consistency (this can also be done by transferring the soup in batches to a food processor or blender). Taste for seasoning. Add additional stock or coconut milk if it’s too thick to your liking. Once the soup is to preferred taste and consistency, serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and cilantro for a garnish. Enjoy!
5 pounds green cabbage, shredded
3 tablespoons pickling salt
1 tablespoon juniper berries
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 quart water, in a sanitized glass jar
In large mixing bowl, mix cabbage thoroughly with salt, juniper berries, and caraway seeds, using hands or tongs. If using your hands, make sure that they are very clean prior to mixing. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Pack cabbage mixture down into a large plastic food container. Top with a lid smaller than the opening of the container and place a glass jar filled with the quart of water on top of the lid. Place in cool area overnight (65 to 70 degrees F). In a day, the cabbage should have given up enough liquid to be completely submerged. The jar serves as a weight to keep the cabbage submerged and away from air.
Check cabbage every other day for approximately 2 weeks and skim the surface of scum, if necessary. Let stand for 4 weeks. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.