Now that it is cold and the summer harvest is over, you may think that fresh produce is a thing of the past. There may not be as much available, but you can find and eat local winter produce.
Hopefully you put away some of your local food for winter, but that means much of it will be frozen, canned, or dehydrated. Though you can make great cooked foods with these products, they don’t resemble fresh at all.
There are plenty of root vegetables and a few fruits that can be stored successfully all winter. You may find a place to store them at home, or you may find local winter produce at the market or through your CSA. You may find farms selling high tunnel or greenhouse grown options as well!
Local Winter Produce – Vegetables
Beets are great raw in salads. I love them roasted or boiled. As root vegetables, beets keep great up to five months.
Cabbage is the king of long lasting veggies. It is fantastic raw in a salad, or added to coleslaw for a fish taco. You should easily be able to find cabbage all winter long.
Carrots, another root veggie, will last until May at least. Carrots are often sweeter due to the cold, and keep well in garden beds in Maryland when properly mulched.
Collards and kale are hardy vegetables that you may find from farms that grow in high tunnels.
Cucumbers may be greenhouse grown locally. They will cost more, but sometimes a taste of summer is worth it!
Garlic keeps well all winter long if cured and stored properly. It will rot in the fridge, and shrivel if too dry, but you should be able to find fresh garlic all winter.
Greens like spinach and lettuce can be grown in high tunnels in Maryland or hydroponically. Mixed with cabbage and other fresh vegetable options, you can make some fabulous salads. Try growing your own microgreens!
Onions and leeks also store well in winter under the right circumstances. Store them yourself or buy them at the market.
Parsnips may be the hardiest of all the root vegetables. They get sweeter in the cold, and store like carrots. Though you can eat them raw, they are great roasted.
Potatoes last a long time in cold, damp conditions. They need to stay dark, but if properly cured will last a long time. They don’t freeze or can well at all, but stored as a root crop they are perfect.
Rutabagas don’t last quite as long, but they should last 2-4 months. I confess, I have never tried a rutabaga. But I plan to! Mashed rutabaga sounds delicious.
Sweet potatoes will last until spring. They are great baked and eaten as is, but my favorite is to mash up roasted sweet potatoes with chipotle peppers and butter.
Tomatoes may be available in a few places, grown in high tunnels or greenhouses. You won’t get the variety you find in summer, but local tomatoes are the best.
Local Winter Produce – Fruits
Apples are great for storing all winter. Certain varieties keep better than others, and later maturing apples usually last longer. You should find apples available all winter. Add them to salads or eat them fresh.
Citrus, though not strictly local, is a great winter crop. You may be able to find citrus grown from a few states away, and store it yourself for a month or two.
Pears are stored unripe so they don’t get gritty. When you want to eat them, ripen them at 60-65F for a few days. Add them to salads like apples or eat fresh.
Other Local Winter Foods
Fresh local winter produce is hardest to source. You will be able to find local meat easily, and some dairy products. Eggs become harder to find because the chickens don’t lay as much in the cold.
Winter can be a great time to join a meat CSA or to buy a quarter or half animal to store in your freezer. You can stay home and enjoy great meat without having to go to one of the rare winter markets.
If you find it difficult to get out to a market or to find a CSA near you, consider buying a large amount of easily stored local winter produce and storing it yourself at home. Learning how to properly store foods means less trips out to the grocery.
Meal planning around what you already have and what you can find means saving money and not wasting food. It’s worth it to see if you can find appropriate storage spaces around your house and yard to buy larger amount of storable food.