With cool weather upon us, the traditional growing season is creeping to a halt and most farmers markets are preparing to roll up the sidewalks and hibernate until spring. Savvy shoppers know that this is the time to take an extra bag or two to market and stock up on hardy winter storage crops. Winter storage crops can help see you through the winter months by providing nutritious, local produce for months after the ground has frozen. Cool storage crops can be stored in dark, mildly moist areas where the temperature ranges from 45 – 60 degrees Fahrenheit for several months. Cold storage crops do better in temperatures ranging from 32 – 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Basements, closets, areas beneath the stairs and back porches serve well as winter storage areas, depending on the crop and the area’s ambient temperature.
Cool storage crops include garlic, onion, potatoes and winter squash. Store these crops in mesh bags or boxes in a cool, dark, moderately humid area, such as a basement. Store potatoes, unwashed, in cloth covered baskets, or place them in a sturdy container and cover with dirt. Many farmers and food enthusiasts with limited storage space find winter squash store quite well in boxes under a bed.
Cold storage crops include apples, beets, cabbage, carrot, parsnip, pear, radishes, rutabaga and turnips. All of these crops can be kept refrigerated for up to two months. Wrapping fruits individually in paper will absorb access moisture and protect the good fruits from ones that may go bad. Create a natural refrigerator by packing produce into a sealed container filled with damp sand. This works especially well with root crops such as carrots or turnips.
This week at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market you will find a wide selection of winter storage crops. There will be winter squash, pumpkins, apples, pears, onions, garlic and beets. Several farmers will have winter greens, including kale, chard, collards and arugula. Bakers will have a sweet supply of breads, pizza crusts, muffins, coffee cakes, pies, and more. Wakarusa Valley Farm will have local mushrooms and Nut Nation will be on hand with samples of their delicious pistachios. Backyard Produce will be there with fresh micro greens and Nut Nation will be there with samples of their locally flavored pistachios. Avery’s Produce will be roasting peppers again. Roasted peppers and cut up unroasted peppers can easily be frozen for future use.
This week’s hot food vendor will be the Eudora High School Culinary Team. The team, lead by former Free State Brewing Company Head Chef, Rick Martin, will make their first foray into the retail side of the food business. The students will be grilling up fresh local beef or bison burgers and serving them on fresh baked bread, made with local Kansas flour. Condiments will include, Alma cheese, Eudora High Culinary Art Student’s pickles, house made ketchup and mustard. The students are also hoping to make homemade potato chips!
Pickett, Paul and Jeans, Lawrence’s hottest new acoustical trio, will set the market mood with their traditional and eclectic mix of blues, jazz and old timey songs.
Come join the fun at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market, this Thursday, September 21, 2012 from 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm. Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market is located in the back parking lot of Cottin’s Hardware & Rental, 183 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, KS.