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.
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, 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”):