Somehow between Thanksgiving and Christmas the month slipped away from me. I feel horribly guilty to have gone so long without posting but here in a series of mini posts is what I've been doing. First up - cellaring root crops!
We bought in carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi, and celeriac from Riverstone Farm in Floyd. We have trouble with carrots and parsnips in our heavy clay soil but Riverstone grows some of the best root crops I've ever eaten. In order to have these fine veggies for as long as possible this winter I rootcellared them. Even if you don't have a real root cellar (and I don't) if you have a garage, or an unheated porch or sunroom, or a chilly basement/cellar, or even outdoor stairs leading down to your basement with storm doors on them you can cellar root crops.
Start with a box or crate of some sort that has holes for a little airflow. I use the half bushel apple and tomato boxes with lids I accumulate over summer and fall. Some people use styrofoam coolers and drill large holes into the sides. Next you'll need either play sand or wood shavings. I prefer wood shavings because they're light and I can still move the packed boxes with relative ease. You'll also need a little water for dampening your packing material and of course, the veggies.
Choose good looking firm carrots for storage. Don't wash them, just brush off any loose dirt and cut the tops off.
Dampen the wood shavings or sand with a little water and allow it to sit overnight to make sure it's evenly damp. You don't want it soaked, just damp to the touch. Next loosely pack about an inch of the shavings/sand into your chosen container. Lay the carrots in a single layer on top of the shavings. They can be touching but not lying on top of each other. Cover the carrots with another inch thick layer of shavings/sand. On top of this place another single layer of carrots. Repeat until the box is full of carrots and shavings/sand and end with a thick layer of shavings on top. Put the lid on the box and store in a protected cold spot. Carrots and parsnips both like the same conditions: somewhere between 32-40 degrees F and 90-95% humidity, hence the damp shavings. My carrot and parsnip boxes get stored in our garage away from the windows and door and against the wall that is common with the house.
The kohlrabi and celeriac got treated the same way except I stored them in the bins of our extra refrigerator just to insure the constant humidity. But they could have just as easily been stored in boxes as well.
We love roasted root veggies in our winter diets and it's great to have a constant supply of full flavored superior roots at hand from one of our favorite local farms.