The Seacoast is well-populated with farmers’ markets, even in the depths of winter. Given the vagaries of New England weather, though, we can’t always make it to them at this time of year. In the past couple of weeks alone, we’ve had all manner of snowy and icy conditions, often leaving our dirt road impassable. For those times between trips to the market, a well-stocked pantry is an absolute necessity, especially for eating locally.
This year, we put up fewer jams and pickles, and concentrated on canning vegetables, such as tomatoes and corn, and stocks. So far, we’ve worked through half our stores of tomatoes and stocks (vegetable and chicken), both of which make up the base for frequent soups and braises. Of the lot, it’s the tomatoes we keep the closest tabs on, and canning more, especially tomatillos, tops the list for next season.
In a separate part of the basement, there’s a walled-off room that’s suitable for keeping onions, shallots and garlic at one end, and potatoes at the other. Though these vegetables prefer similar conditions, they don’t like to be stored too close to one another. Above: red and yellow storage onions from Black Kettle Farm and Stout Oak Farm, bought in bulk last fall.
The winter tomatoes and squash are stored at a slightly higher temperature than the alliums and potatoes, and are kept in the main part of the basement. Compared to last year, we started out with much fewer pomodorini (left to right, Aprile and Ponderosa).
For vegetables that need colder conditions and don’t fit in the basement refrigerator, we use the garage or bulkhead for bulk storage, where temperatures usually hover in the 30’s. However, a dip into the subzero range before we could insulate the bulkhead caught us by surprise this winter. Though we lost a bin of daikon and winter radishes, even more surprising was how well the other remaining vegetables tolerated the extreme cold. Above: root vegetables (rutabaga, turnips and beets), apples, and cabbages.
Celeriac from the garden, the last harvest of the year.
Brussels sprouts from Heron Pond Farm — these were picked up at the Winter Farmers’ Market in December. Though it’s a bulky way of keeping them, we’ve learned leaving them on their stalks makes for longer storage.
Macoun apples from New Hampshire Cider Works — we usually keep an extra bin on hand, though last fall’s bountiful crop should result in storage apples available through the winter.
Rutabaga from Brookford Farm, and beets and Gillfeather turnips from Stout Oak Farm — we’ve become increasingly appreciative of these winter stalwarts. Overall, we’re not storing as much as last year, and the adjustment has made for less waste and upkeep. For more on keeping a winter pantry, see Mastering Food Preservation: Winter Storage Techniques >