Winter Storage Vegetables

I was gifted squash of all varieties from a friend’s garden and attempted spaghetti squash latkes this week. They turned out to be more of a pancake texture. Pursuing a vague memory of a Japanese savoury pancake I had once, I did a quick google search, and some topping change ups. My “sort of” Latkes became a “sort of” Okonomiyak, making it a pretty delicious turn of events.

I have more squash sitting in a cardboard box in the corner of my front entrance, onions stashed away like a squirrel in my cupboards and jars of canned tomatoes weighing down my lazy susan cupboard. I feel mysteriously wealthy with all this good food around and it got me thinking about who absorbs the cost of stored food we get to shop for at our leisure throughout the winter months.

If you are shopping for Ontario produce in the winter and look at things like potatoes, carrots without the tops, cabbage that has to have the external leaves removed because of damage, you might come to the conclusion that these are low value vegetables. I’d like to paint a different picture.

While spring potatoes may be tender and beautiful and storage potatoes may be dusty and require peeling or a good scrubbing I think they are both equally valuable. Farmers that grow winter storage crops, also have to store those crops which comes at a cost of it’s own that should be reflected in the price of the food. It can be a challenge not to only see value in a visual sense when shopping for food. As the cold winter months roll in and you continue to see Ontario products available at markets and in stores, consider what goes on behind the scenes. There are heating costs, storage space, refrigeration, and labour required to keep that product available and as fresh as possible all winter long. As much as I dream of having a root cellar, it’s pretty amazing to be able to shop throughout the winter for small amounts of produce, and not be required to purchase 50lbs of potatoes every fall.

If you ARE into stocking up in the fall, or have grown some of your own storage crops, I’ve been excited with the results of my own at home trials of food storage. For the past few years I’ve been able to store squash, onions, and garlic in my regular room temperature pantries, coat closets and any dark semi cool corners I can find. The stores have only every really lasted me until January, so my study has consistently ended about there. That being said thought, if your farmers are heading out for the season don’t be afraid to stock up on some of these more stable items if you have the space and desire!

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