Posted on January 16 2024
Got the dead-of-winter woes? Lack of adequate sunshine is likely not the only culprit. Winter brings the end of the farming season for most, and the scarcity of fresh, local produce. But the body's need for the vitamins and nutrients that organic food provides it doesn't go anywhere, and without proper diet and supplementation, a lack of energy and vitality will result. But does that mean that produce must be flown in from afar? Not at all. In fact, there are plenty of vegetables and leafy greens that grow through the winter, if you know where to look.
One of the most versatile among these is the sweet potato, which can stay in the ground until the first frost; depending on your climate zone, this can happen as late as December or January. The sweet potato can then be stored in a cool, dry place with plenty of circulation, preserving its freshness up to late spring. These tubers are a rich source of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), thiamin (vitamin B1) and pyridoxine (vitamin B5). They are also full of iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, which are all very important in the metabolism of enzymes, protein, and carbohydrates.
Carrots are also typically kept in the ground through winter, even surviving frost and ice. You can harvest them at will through the entire winter and store them for months in a similar environment to the sweet potatoes. These root vegetables are an excellent source of carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A. They also contain essential vitamins such as B1, B2, B6, D, and E, all of which are antioxidants. Potassium, magnesium, folic acid, and calcium pectate are also naturally occurring in carrots, making this resilient little tuber an essential part of a winter diet.
In the realm of all things green, there are many from which to choose. Kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, and Brussel sprouts can survive until an extreme freeze comes around, and you can freeze them for months after harvesting. Kale contains plenty of dietary fiber and protein, as well as thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, and iron, not to mention vitamins A, C, K, and B6. The vitamin contents of broccoli, kohlrabi, and Brussel sprouts are similar, with the added benefits of cancer-fighting glucosinolates.
But how can you ensure that these winter treasures last even longer? Enter vacuum sealing. This preservation method not only keeps your vegetables fresh but also locks in their nutritional goodness. Sweet potatoes, when vacuum-sealed after harvesting, can maintain their freshness well into late spring. Clean, peel, and cut carrots into suitable sizes before vacuum sealing to preserve their texture and nutritional content. For hardy greens like kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts, vacuum sealing after blanching ensures a ready supply of nutrient-packed greens during the harshest winter days. The vitamins and minerals present in these greens remain locked in, contributing to a well-rounded winter diet.
Between the hardy greens and the stubborn roots, there are plenty of ways to stay healthfully satiated during winter. The best part about these basic winter offerings is that most non-factory produce farms grow at least one, and if not, they're not hard to grow in your backyard. All it takes is a little know-how and a bit of resourcefulness to keep your family healthy, happy, and thriving all year long!