Sweet and hardy after the frost! Late October Farm Share

Hard frost hit the Pioneer Valley this week spelling the end of summer crops, but the beginning of wonderful for many of our fall and winter foods which get their best flavor and storage quality after such cold temperatures.  The fields are getting tucked into bed with their cover crop covers now nicely green and established, feeding the soil for next spring and summer’s plantings.   However, many fields are still occupied by this year’s food, such as kale, brussels sprouts, leeks, still yet to be picked and brought fresh to the kitchen table and home stores.


Carnival Squash curing in storage at Picadilly Farm

Leeks can be pulled from the ground even after a freeze once the soil warms a bit (Picadilly, Oct 2018)

The squash, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic have all been curing at just the right temps and timing for the best eating and storage quality. All the potatoes and some of the roots, the peppers and tomatillos, and cabbages have all been harvested ahead of now and in cold storage, washed and packed yesterday and today for our shares.

Lettuce, spinach, herbs still happily sizing up in unheated “high tunnels” at Picadilly (Oct 2018, Picadilly Farm)

Lettuce, herbs, and other more tender greens, if grown under shelter of a hoop house or covered with insulating fabric for a heavy frost, can be harvested well into the colder months of fall. And Brussels Sprouts are the best after a hard frost–the farms are able to harvest these and other greens once they’ve spruced up in the warmth of the day.

As this page from Cedar Circle Farm in VT explains, there’s nothing like Brussels Sprouts harvested at their peak, after a hard frost:   “It is well worth noting that often store bought Brussels sprouts are picked too early, and it shows in their bitter flavor and tough texture. Picking them fresh from the farm or garden after a few frosts sweetens the flavor and makes them tender, offering a whole different experience!  Try them roasted, along with some other yummy fall veggies.”

What to expect in your October share (# means “pounds”):

White Salad Turnips–mild, sweet and easy to enjoy raw or cooked

Store fresh for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator crisper drawers:  fennel, 1 piece, bunch of salad turnips, quart of tomatillos + a few chili peppers, possibly +1-2 sweet peppers, 2 heads lettuce,  2 bunches kale (can also be dried in a low oven as kale chips for later use), 3/4 pound spinach, 2 stalks Brussels Sprouts (pop off stalk to fit in fridge drawer, or if you have larger place for them, keep on stalk for longer freshness–but even better, just roast and eat them now!)
Garlic 3/4#,  this month is good for use right away or very short term storage.  Keeping in a closed jar (whole heads, in the peel) in the fridge will prolong the life.
Store fresh for a month or two in cold (just above 33F), moist storage in unheated basement or garage, be sure to retain moisture by storing in plastic bags with small holes or buried in sand (or in bags in the back of your fridge or crisper drawers):  1 green savoy cabbage, 1 red cabbage, carrots 5#, beets 3#, white potatoes 5#, bunch leeks
Store in dry moderate temps (kitchen counter or pantry) for about a month:  herb bunch,  and carnival squash,  onions 2#.  Once dry, herbs can be store in airtight jar for many months. For longer storage, store onions in cooler temps, in paper bags for moderate moisture, in a dark location.
Store in dry, moderate (kitchen counter) for months:  4 # sweet potatoes