I have recently had a realization regarding living in a northerly climate: the north gifts us the ability to store food passively. Living in the north can feel like a shortcoming when it comes to short growing seasons and lack of heat, but increasingly my food adventures are teaching me that cold is key to many wonderful food-things, root cellaring veg included.
I’m still trying to get my head around root veg cellaring. It really can’t be this simple, can it? Well into the end of December, and the root veg in the photo were the only veg required for last night’s dinner. Carrot slaw, mashed potato with chevre, and 9-hr roasted beets. When the new year rings in, I’ll be a happy man not because I enjoy new year’s, but because I’ll have achieved reaching January with a cellar full of garden veg in my first year of giving it a go. At this rate, reaching spring with at least some remaining garden veg doesn’t seem like an unrealistic goal – which, if achieved, will make a wholesale change on the food culture in our family. The hardiness and storability characteristics of the veg and fruit themselves will decide when we eat what, which I always find rewarding – but perhaps more importantly, we will be vastly closer to producing all the veg, fruit, and herbs we need on our simple, small, northerly city lot.
Something to think about: if preserving is trendy anew, root cellaring should easily dominate canning in our time-scarce society. I’m with Eliot Coleman – forget hot water canning in the heat, I’m all over letting my northerly weather keep fresh veg happy through the winter. Zero energy cost. Zero jar-packing-and-canning or freezing. Fresh food. Genius.