Whether you have cold frames, are storing your own garden harvest or purchasing from your local farmers market, here are ten veggies to eat this Winter and how to store them.
And don’t worry if you don’t have a root cellar or cold storage! It is possible to store vegetables for Winter in garages, basements, or even a hole in the ground outside, insulated with straw. You can DIY a root cellar with a trash can or old deep freezer buried in the ground and mulched heavily with straw or leaves.
There are many ways to store veggies for Winter eating. You could can them in a pressure canner, dehydrate, freeze, or lacto-ferment them. Our favourite way is the easiest - storing vegetables whole for fresh eating. But, we like to do a little bit of everything - every effort contributes to the Winter stores!
We encourage you to store or preserve even ONE thing that you love - enjoy it through the Winter (save money on buying it out of season) and the satisfaction of that might encourage you to try a little more next year.
Root vegetables are even sweeter when left in the garden for some frosty weather. After harvest, they like storage conditions to simulate their natural environment - cold, dark, and humid (up to 95%!).
To store root vegetables whole, remove leaves (leave about 1-2 inches), and leave them unwashed - that soil layer helps retain moisture and keep veggies fresh longer. Start with about two inches of sand at the bottom of a tote or crate and lay vegetables in a single layer, not touching. Add sand and repeat, layering veggies and sand until the tote is full.
They should keep well for several months. Check often and remove any rotting veggies to prevent spoiling them all.
Here are some of our favourite root vegetables to grow for storage:
You can never grow too many carrots! It is so nourishing to the body and spirit to eat colorful vegetables year-round - and carrots (which come in a rainbow of colours) are loaded with vitamin A.
You can store carrots in the fridge, freezer, or in cold storage. You can also dehydrate sliced or diced carrots for Winter soups and stews. Here in The Maritimes, we can usually get away with just leaving them right in the ground, with some heavy mulch, just in case.
Beets are such a gorgeous, vibrant sight in mid winter - grated in salads, simmered into Borscht, roasted with herbs and topped with goat cheese.
We all love pickled beets, especially with onions and whole cloves! You can also ferment, dehydrate, or freeze beets well, but we recommend storing some whole to enjoy fresh eating all Winter long! They’re delicious roasted with the skins on, then peeled for eating.
Rutabaga is actually a cross between cabbage and turnips. I know you gardeners would never call a vegetable you grew yourself or bought from an organic farm ugly. . . but we totally get why vibrant veggies like carrots and beets are more enticing than the plain-jane or gnarly root veg.
Here are a few good reasons why you should give rutabaga a chance - and a delicious comfort food mashed rutabaga recipe. Our favourite ways to eat rutabaga is raw, fermented and at Christmas, we steam it with carrots, mash them and serve with butter.
In Europe, Turnips were a staple long before the potato. They are less starchy, but still versatile. They lend tons of flavour to Winter stew. They also make a great mash and delicious oven fries.
You can freeze, pressure can, or stored turnips whole like other root veggies.
Oooooh overwintered parsnips are such a special treat - they can be mulched heavily in the garden and left to dig in the Spring. They are SO sweet and delicious. You can also harvest in Fall and store them just like carrots.
This is our favourite parsnip recipe. These Fries Will Change Your Life!
Celeriac is a delicious, underrated veggie that we love. It isn’t a pretty vegetable to most people’s standards, but beneath that gnarly root is a smooth, white inside with a strong celery flavour and starchy potato-like texture. Celeriac freezes well - simply wash, peel and cut into discs or cubes, then blanch and freeze.
More Vegetables for Winter Fresh Eating
Proper storage of garlic actually begins with planting healthy, organic seed garlic. After harvesting garlic, it needs to cure. Tie it in bundles and hang in a dark, cool spot (like a barn, outbuilding, storage room, or closet) for a few weeks.
You can then braid softneck garlic, or clip off the bulbs and store them (you guessed it) somewhere cool, dark, with proper humidity!
Have you ever tried honey fermented garlic? It is a wonderful medicine to take at the first sign of sickness. Here’s a recipe.
Onions are a Winter staple! They lend so much flavour to soups, stews, broths, roasted meat or vegetables, and they’re an immunity booster - antibacterial and antioxidant.
It is so satisfying to grow onions from seed AND grow enough for Winter storage. We show you how to grow onions and leeks from seed in this library article.
Onions, like garlic, must be cured properly for long-term storage. After harvest, lay them on a sheet without touching each other in a ventilated area to cure for several weeks before braiding the tops or removing them for loose storage. Leave their papery wrappers on for protection.
Squash is just the best - it is easy to grow, so versatile, and stores really well as is for months in decent storage conditions.
Winter squash (not Summer squash like Zucchini!) can be stored anywhere dark and cool with a relative humidity of 50-70% (you can measure humidity with an inexpensive little device called a hygrometer). Ventilation or air circulation is important for extended storage. The squash should also not be touching each other. If you have an empty closet, basement, cooler storage or laundry room - you may have a great spot already.
In the right conditions, Squash will store well for at least 2-3 months.
Every Fall, we make a huge batch of sauerkraut for Winter eating. The probiotics in fermented foods along with vitamins and minerals are so powerful for your health! The recipe we use is from Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation.
You can store cabbage in your fridge for several weeks or in a root cellar or cool, dark storage space for several months. If your cabbage still has its outer leaves, leave them on - they protect the inner, more tender leaves and reduce moisture loss.
It is possible to grow Greens all year long (yes, even in Canada!) if you have a cold frame, polytunnel, greenhouse, or indoor grow lights. (Read our guide to season extension here).
If you’re not yet Winter gardening, it is easy to store greens to enjoy through the colder months until your early Spring greens come up in the garden. Dark, leafy greens, like Kale dehydrate well (mmm kale chips!) while chard and spinach can be quickly blanched and frozen.
Sprouting seeds is a wonderful way to access extremely fresh food all Winter long. It takes maybe one minute every day to have continuous sprouts all Winter. You could use any of these: alfalfa, broccoli, mung bean, sunflower, clover, mustard, kale, clover, chia, radish (some are spicier than others FYI).
To grow sprouts, simply:
- Soak organic sprouting seeds in water overnight
- Strain the water and set jar of sprouts on your windowsill
- Rinse with water and strain daily
- You should have delicious sprouts within three days.
- Repeat for continuous sprouts!
You can add sprouts to soups, salads, sandwiches, smoothies - or just eat them on their own because it feels AMAZING to eat fresh things in Winter. We are a small family farm and don't keep massive amounts of seeds on hand, but you can source bulk, organic, food grade sprouting seeds Mumm's.
If you missed out on growing your own this year, our new Spring Catalogue comes out the first week of January!
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