Friday, 10 October 2014 15:04

Extending the Season with Cold Storage

SARATOGA SPRINGS — This is the time to think about buying certain produce in bulk for fall/winter storage. Stocking up on storage-hardy items expands your on-hand ingredients available at home, which can be very convenient. 

Some of the crops that store well include apples, pears, cabbage, winter squash and root vegetables, which can be stored in pits, cellars or basements without refrigeration during cool fall and cold winter months. The right temperature, humidity and ventilation are all important in storing these items successfully. 

Here is a link to a publication that covers cold storage choices in great detail, if you are inclined to try these methods at home. It is drawn on information that originated at Cornell University. 

Many of the farmers at Saratoga Farmers’ Market also use cold storage methods to their advantage, allowing them to harvest crops in the fall and provide produce to customers all winter long. 

For example, at Saratoga Apple in Schuylerville, some of the orchard’s apple crop is put into specially regulated cold storage in the fall. The storage rooms have low oxygen levels, slowing the respiration of the apples, so they stay juicy and crisp. In this way, Saratoga Apple can sell a wide variety of apples right through the winter. 

At Pleasant Valley Farm in Argyle, Paul and Sandy Arnold’s root cellar has a capacity of 24 tons and is kept at 34 degrees and 98 percent humidity. This allows them to supply farmers’ market customers with potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage, leeks, kohlrabi, radishes, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips and other items through the winter season and into the following spring. 

Commenting on how various crops have specific storage criteria, Sandy Arnold noted, “In addition to the root cellar, in other separate facilities on our farm, onions and garlic are kept in cold storage with no humidity. In contrast, after we cure the winter squash and sweet potatoes, they are kept above 50 degrees with low humidity.”

At Kilpatrick Family Farm in Middle Granville, farmer Michael Kilpatrick reviewed some recent activities to harvest and store some of the farm’s crops.

“By the end of September, our fall harvest efforts are in full swing. We’ve recently harvested all our potatoes, for example. The yield was really good, mainly due to the good soil and watering our crewmembers did all summer. This year we simplified and stuck with our favorite varieties: red Maria, Nicola, red Adirondack, blue Adirondack, and Russets. We’re excited about releasing some of these varieties during the winter,” said Kilpatrick.

“Every year we try to grow more and more crops for storage. This year we added fennel, which is delicious when roasted or sautéed. We’ve researched exactly how to store it for maximum freshness during the long winter season.” 

“In addition to storage crops, this week we are focusing on planting down our five greenhouses with winter greens, so we have a steady supply all winter of kale, spinach, lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard and more,” commented Kilpatrick.

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Roasted Fennel and Carrots
Courtesy of Kilpatrick Family Farm

*Ingredients available at the market

• 2 heads fennel*, bulb and stalks roughly chopped
• 1 1/2 pounds carrots*, cut into large like-sized pieces
• 1 medium onion*, cut into eighths
• 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt, to taste

Heat oven to 450 degrees. 

Toss the fennel, carrots and onion together in a large baking pan. Mix with olive oil, enough to coat. Sprinkle with salt.

Roast for about 45 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. They should start to turn golden brown and crispy on the edges, but not be at all burned.

Saratoga Farmers’ Market remains open at High Rock Park through the end of October, Wednesdays 3 - 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. The indoor Saratoga Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., beginning November 1 through the end of April, at the Lincoln Baths building in the Saratoga Spa State Park.



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