I’ll admit that winter local eating can be a bit of a, well, challenge; with its variations on an onion, its ample use of cultivated mushrooms, and especially, if one needs to pack lunches, bags of sprouts and microgreens. Already, the markets are reduced to two fruits: apples and papples (i.e., Asian style pears). Before local ennui sets in however, glory in a final seasonal blessing. Baby it may already be cold outside, but to some in the plant kingdom, that’s just the way they like it. Now is the time to buy the cold weather crops. Various greens, brussels sprouts and roots all taste best this time of year.
Farmer Vicki writes in this week’s CSA letter that “working in the cold is no fun.” She does say:
This week we have worked hard to harvest the outdoor crops as the cold settles in. We have a lot yet to do as we try to leave as many crops outside as long as we can because they become sweeter as the weather grows colder. Starches convert to sugar, hence the extra sweetness in the greens and roots. But, before the ground freezes we have to take all the crops out. We still even have Brussels sprouts out in the field. Ah, but they will only get better.
It is easy now to forget the tomato, the eggplant and the cucumber. Us Northies have frost kissed pleasures. Much can be done with this seasonal bounty. Spinach can be used raw (with bacon to great effect!). Some local greens, like some types of kale, need only a slight wilt and can also be served as salads–strong dressings here. I’ve taken to the steamer. My older daughter really enjoyed the result with some turnips. LIke a good schvitzer, these turnip slices had their pores fully opened. When I put a few nobs of butter in the bowl, they sucked them all right in. Eat well with what we got.