I am always amazed that we continue to bring to you interesting and new choices in the midst of the Persephone Days. This week, we have Broccoli Raab (pronounced “rob”) from Chesapeake Organic available to order. It is also known as rabe, broccoletto, turnip broccoli and rapini.
This vegetable is extremely popular in China and Italy. Its qualities, origins and preparation are described well on What’s Cooking America. Chesapeake Organic is offering a connoisseur’s heirloom variety, known as Zamboni. The long tender stems and abundant turnip-like leaves on this variety are a connoisseurs delight.
Many initiates believe raab should have lots of florets. But the converse is true. Ample florets are a sign of age or hybridization (the original broccoli raab has been crossed with another true broccoli plant). The tenderest, nicest, most authentic broccoli raab will have just a couple of florets in the entire bunch. In Italy and China, broccoli raab is prized for the tender stems and leaves.
Storing Winter Vegetables
Now is the time to put aside some staples for the rest of the winter. Our local farmers still have some produce available, but will begin to sell out of them soon. Storage will be the key to keeping these vegetables in your larder. Since most of us do not have commercial storage facilities or root cellars, below are some suggestions to help your vegetables last several months if stored properly.
- Cabbage & Root Vegetables – include carrots (cut the tops off completely, but do not cut into the actual carrot), beets (without tops), rutabagas, turnips (without tops), radishes and kohlrabi. Store all of these vegetables in the refrigerator at a temperature as close to 32 degrees as you have. You may store them in a plastic bag as long as they are dry.
Onions and Garlic – They like it dry, and on the cooler side (32-50 F ideally, though kitchens work well for medium length keeping). Don’t put in plastic bags as humidity encourages sprouting.
- Potatoes – For longest term storage of organically grown potatoes, store in a thick paper bag under refrigeration in the crisper drawer at about 40 degrees (which normally has an adjustment lever to stop cold air from coming in every time your refrigerator cools). It’s best to let your potatoes to come to room temperature before using. If you are buying potatoes from the supermarket that do not sprout, that is because they have been sprayed with an aerosol agent that regulates cell division. In the United States, chlorpropham or maleic hydrazide are commonly used. Yes, they also impact human cell division. How this might impact human health has not been well-researched. But Japan and the European Union restrict use of anti-sprouting agents.
- Sweet Potatoes – Best at 55-60 degrees, enclosed well in a paper bag to retain moisture.
Winter Squash – Best at 50-55 degrees with air circulation-not in a bag.
For further information, see these Cornell Storage Guidelines for details on length of storage time by crop and more ideas for how to pack produce or set up a root cellar.
Yours in the high tunnel again this week,