In the winter, there’s a quiet alchemy at work in the root cellar. Storage vegetables keep remarkably well when they’re treated with care, and there’s a wider variety than you may think.
A few vegetables come to mind for us when we think of winter produce. Onions, potatoes, beets, carrots, garlic, and apples are all good keepers and standards in our own kitchens.
But there’s a small world of less traditional produce that keeps just as well. Celeriac, parsnips, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, and rutabagas can all be roasted or mashed—either mixed with potatoes or on their own—for a unique comfort food. Sweet potatoes and winter squashes improve as they cure on your counter or in a cool closet. Horseradish can keep for up to a year, giving you a fresh way to fire up your dips and sauces. Leeks, kohlrabi, and tight heads of cabbage can keep for months. We’ve even heard rumors of green tomatoes that last until spring.
Keep winter produce cool and dry and don’t pre-wash. Store your healthiest produce—damaged or bruised vegetables spoil more quickly. Most vegetables do well in the refrigerator in loose plastic bags. Sweet potatoes store best at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Squashes and pumpkins keep at slightly cooler temperatures, in a dry space. You can even wrap produce individually in newspaper to keep it dry and discourage spoilage (that’s the trick with the tomatoes, we hear).
Once your produce is stored well, you’ll have an abundance of choices for your winter stews and roasted sides.