Getting ready for Old Man Winter’s inevitable and prolonged visit has taken on a fever pitch this week at our place. Whereas in days past when we were out, we strolled about the garden, pulling a couple of weeds here and taking a picture of the dog or an unusually lovely plant there, la-de-da, admiring a graceful butterfly or a saucy dragonfly, enjoying the colors and the sights and the sounds of a gorgeous fall, nowwe march out first thing, our mouths grim and determined–wheelbarrow and/or buckets in hand–to do the plucking and/or digging planned for that day.
Our mien: serious. Focused. Determined.
Basically, I’m trying to avoid that infamous last frantic day of picking and digging, our mouths hanging open, temperature plummeting as we work . . . it’s never fun and it always has to be done: usually at the very. last. minute. All my older kiddos can probably remember this panic-filled day, in years past. The day that frost and/or hard freeze is expected.
This year, we’re ahead of schedule. I think. I hope. Here, now I’m feeling awkward and unsure all of a sudden, so take a look at this picture of turnips, won’t you?
These babies, planted in the rich soil in the hoop house, got big!
I planted a few turnips in the hoop house and so am harvesting them for winter eating today. Turnips are one of the root crops that will happily be content in a cool place for months. I don’t have a root cellar, but Bryan has condescended to let me use a corner of his shop (which is unheated, but protected enough to not drop below freezing) in exchange for my spending an hour or two cleaning in there. You do what you have to do, eh?
The turnips are in the hoop house, and once I harvest them, the winter radishes, the eggplants (which won’t likely last much longer, anyway, being warm-loving plants) the peppers (ditto) I’ll have plenty of space to plant some greens and a few other goodies–spinach, mizuna, mache, parsley!– to keep us in fresh salads through most of the winter.
And yes, you can come over for salad any time. 🙂
I’m going to let another writer help me with my post today, so I can make a few more jars of grape juice and perhaps some pesto for the freezer and also so I can clear out that corner of Bryan’s shop (ahem).
Yes, I have a life outside this blog. But then, you’ve probably suspected that already.
There’s something so satisfying about having a few bushels of beets and carrots and turnips and potatoes squirreled away for winter eating, eh? And squash . . . for those of you who can grow squash, that is (despondent sigh).
Anybody want to trade some winter radishes for a few winter squash?
Oh! At the end of this post, I’ve attached one of my favorite ways to prepare turnips, so be sure to check it out. I prepared this recipe last night, for roasted veg, and it went so fast down my hungry family’s gullets that I didn’t get a picture of it! So you’ll have to make your own, to see just how pretty and attractive of a dish it is. Peasant food. But, beautiful and filling peasant food.
Before I share the Ezines article about storing turnips with you, here’s the nutshell version:
How to store turnips for the winter:
First, cut off the greens (wash, chop, and stir fry with onions and olive oil for a treat)
If you plan to eat them within a few weeks, they’ll be perfectly fine in the refrigerator drawer in a plastic bag.
If you have a bigger quantity than your refrig has room for, or if you plan to store them longer than just a few weeks, put them in a cool area of your house that won’t freeze, single layer in a box, covered with damp leaves.
Only store roots without bruises or blemishes to avoid spoilage. It’s not necessary to wash them before storing.
These lovelies will stay perfectly good for months in cool storage . . . if they last that long . . . smile, lovelies!
If you have planted turnips, you cannot cook all of your harvest all at once-you would surely have a surplus of this crop. This calls for knowledge on how to properly store excess turnips so you can enjoy them at a later time.
So, what is the right way of storing this root crop?
Once you are done picking all your turnips, remove all the green leafy parts of the root. The green would draw moisture away from the turnip itself. If you leave it on, the turnip would soon become dehydrated.
People usually discard the leaves, but don’t. The green leafy tops of turnips are also edible and can be cooked in a lot of ways. They are also very easy to prepare.
After cutting the greens, wash them in cold water, making sure that no grit is left. Shake to get rid of excess moisture. Cut off the thick, tough stem and throw it away. To eliminate tiny insects that might have clung to the leaves, soak the leaves in salted cold water for a few minutes. Wash again in running water and drain.
You can use Ziploc bags or any freeze grade bags to store the turnip greens. These should keep as long as five days if your freezer has been set at a temperature between 32 and 34 degrees.
For the roots, the method of storing would depend on how soon you are going to use them. If you will be using the turnips in the next few days, simply wash the root, making sure to rub off all the remaining dirt on the skin. Dry and place them in containers or food bags and stuff them in the refrigerator.
However, if you have no plans yet on when you can cook them, do not wash the turnips. Just put the roots in a box on a single layer and place the box in a dark, cool area with enough ventilation.
If you pack the turnips too densely or if you store them in a location with no proper ventilation, premature rotting would be encouraged. Stored this way, the roots should last about six months. (Six months, Gentle Reader!)
The author Taj Singh is a person who has a healthy regard for food and its life-sustaining properties and has written many articles about such things for Ezines.
Okay, it’s me again, and here’s one of my favorite ways to prepare root crops. Roasting vegetables (turnips in particular!) concentrates the sugars in them, and the light vinaigrette is a very nice addition and will coax even your (erm) “particular” eater to enjoy his veg! This dish is so hearty and tasty, it can almost stand alone as a meal, but serving it with a good roast beef or chicken is awfully nice, too. If you don’t have the plethora of veg that is included in this recipe, don’t despair. It’s a mix-and-match type of recipe and any root crop will work. Winter squash, also!
A pan full of vegetables roasting in the oven can herald a warm and comforting cold-weather meal.
1 whole head of garlic
6 green onions
2-3 Tb. red wine vinegar
freshly ground salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the leaves off beets, leaving ½″ stems. Trim the ends, and put on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, stirring well until beets are well covered.
Cut ½″ off the top of the garlic bulb and remove any loose outside skins while keeping the bulb whole. Rub with olive oil and wrap in foil.
Put garlic and beets in the oven for 30 minutes, giving beets a stir after 15 minutes. Check that beets are tender with a sharp knife, and check if garlic is ready by squeezing a clove. If it is very soft, remove, if not bake for another 5-10 minutes.
Squeeze the soft garlic cloves out into a bowl and mash with a fork.
Trim the carrots and wash well, peel turnips and cut in half (or quarters, depending on size) and peel rutabagas and cut off tops, cutting each into wedges.
Put turnips, carrots and rutabagas onto baking tray with olive oil, mixing well to coat all the vegetables.
Roast for around 25 minutes, turning the vegetables half way through cooking, and then remove from the oven.
Cut the tops and bottoms from the green onions and put in another baking tray with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes, turning half way through cooking.
Peel the beets and cut into quarters.
Now you're ready to prepare the vinaigrette: Put the garlic, red wine vinegar, salt and black pepper in a bowl and whisk. Slowly add 4-5 tbsp olive oil whisking all the time until creamy.
To Serve: Place all the vegetables on a serving platter and cover with the vinaigrette.
Stand back and prepare yourself for the effusive compliments which are sure to come!