It’s time to start thinking about storage crops!!!
As we enter the fall season you’ll be seeing more and more “storage vegetables” at market. These crops, as the name implies, can be stored for months at a time, allowing you to continue eating good local food through the long winter months, even while the vegetable fields of CT are buried in snow.
Potatoes, winter squash, beets, carrots, turnips, onions & garlic are the storage crops that we grow, and there will be bulk amounts of these available in October for customers who want to stock up before the growing season comes to an end. Additional storage crops to stock up on from other local farms include cabbage, rutabaga, kohlrabi, apples & pears.
It is a remarkable thing that root vegetables can stay sweet, crunchy and delicious in your refrigerator… for as long as 7 months! Believe me, it’s true. I have lost many a beet to the back of my refrigerator, only to roast it for dinner upon finding it many months later. Delish!
Root veggies (beets, carrots & turnips), that are separated from their greens promptly, keep well in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Winter squash likes temperatures in the 50-55 degree range with higher humidity. A basement would work well for large amounts, though keeping a few Butternut squash on your kitchen counter or pantry should work just fine. You might have to eat them within 3 months instead of 6 in that scenario. (The University of Maine put together an extensive chart of favorable conditions for vegetables for reference.)
Mother Earth News has an article with many creative (sometimes over the top) ways to store you storage crops at home. My advice is not to worry about the perfect conditions you don’t have at home, but to think creatively about the spaces you do have that are cool, dark, out of the way, or refrigerated.
In summary: there is no reason why any of us have to go back to buying all our groceries in the sad sad produce isle of the grocery store just because market is over. A 10 pound bag (each!) of beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, and turnips should keep you eating delicious, nutritious vegetables well into the winter.
Be a local food hero and stock up on storage crops!