RED BANK: SQUASH FOR CHRISTMAS & BEYOND

farmersmarket7Laura Dardi and Lisa Bagwell explain how to store winter squashes and other vegetables. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

With the Red Bank Farmer’s Market 2013 season heading into the home stretch, the last of the year’s opportunities to shop for fresh produce at the Galleria are now on the early-dimming horizon.

Piehole checked in with Lisa Bagwell and Laura Dardi from E.R. And Sons Farm, an organic farm out of Monroe, to get the lowdown on what we can buy now and how best to store it so we can enjoy local produce through the winter.

“Right now we’ve got all types of winter squash: butternut, acorn, spaghetti and pumpkins,” said Bagwell. “Also the potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbages, beets, leeks and apples — these can all be put away.”

Bagwell and Dardi say it’s as simple as storing them correctly in a cool, dark place. The butternut squash in particular can keep for months if properly stored.

“Some people are paranoid and think they need to cook it and freeze it,” said Dardi. “But I had a butternut squash that I bought this time last year and I cooked it in May, and it was awesome.”

“People don’t have root cellars anymore, so you can keep them in the garage or your basement or a cool room,” said Bagwell.

What is this?

Overhearing the conversation about root cellars, market customer Wendy Weiner offered that one farmer she knows suggests burying a clean garbage can in the ground to store vegetables all winter long.

Sweet potatoes will also last for months if you keep them in a box in the closet, said Bagwell. Just don’t put any other vegetables in with them. “Just keep the sweet potatoes with sweet potatoes together in a bin in your closet,” said Dardi.

Now’s also the time to stock up on root vegetables like beets or daikons. Bagwell recommends cutting the green tops off of the roots before storing. “Put them in a plastic bag in the fridge and they will keep for months,” she said.

Shoppers have from now through November 24 to stock up for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. But if stored correctly, you’ll have ingredients for Christmas dinner, too, said Bagwell.

“Maybe even St. Patty’s Day,” Dardi added.

The final edition of the Red Bank Farmer’s Market season is November 24. That’s just four more weeks of farm freshness in the parking lot at the Red Bank Galleria, Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.