Preserve Away for Great Vegetables Year Round


Jars of Preserved Vegetables

Eating seasonal and local is part of eating in the healthiest, most sustainable, and delicious way possible.  While freezing and canning can preserve foods with a reasonable degree of nutrition, nothing beats really fresh vegetables.  Even winter is not an exception, and those things that are available in the winter should absolutely be part of one's diet year round.

Choosing vegetables, meat, and fish in their season makes them easier, simpler to prepare, as their natural goodness is at its peak.  They smell better, taste better, and have a better texture than at any other time in their life cycle.  Parsnips are a good example, as cold weather changes the distribution of sugars within the root, making parsnips sweeter and more aromatic than they were in more temperate seasons.  Listing seasonal vegetables is difficult as the growing season and availability changes as one moves north or south, but it is a reasonable general guide. 

Vegetables that are commonly available year-round are celery, collard greens, chicory, carrots, cauliflower, cress, herbs, kale, leeks, lettuce, mizuna, endive, mushrooms, onions, scallions, spinach, sprouts, and turnips, among others. Specific Fall and Winter vegetables include kohlrabi, parsnips, rutabaga, winter squash, sunchokes, winter wheat, and tatsuoi.

While it is difficult to list everything that is available, this list gives a good idea of what to expect when shopping the fall and winter farmer's market.  Stepping out of the potato-tomato-lettuce-cucumber-onion box that the big supermarkets offer and actually tuning into the growing seasons and specialties of the local area can help change attitudes and habits in a way that nothing else can.  Purchasing these items directly from the farmer who grew them, who can give information about the quality of the crop, connecting it into one's own seasonal life adds a satisfaction that is culinary, spiritual, and intellectual in nature.  It's healthy to connect to one's food choices in this way.

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