25 November 2011

Greens in Winter


Turnip Greens

If any of our lady readers relish a nice dish of greens they can at any time have them, by taking a box (size to be governed by the quantity desired,) and putting into it some rich soil, then set some turnips in and cover lightly with soil, place the box in a warm or even moderately warm room, occasionally watering, and you soon will be gratified with a fine growth. To have them crispy and tender, keep them away from the sunlight as much as possible.
[Leavitt’s Farmer's Almanac]


There were no supermarkets in the Agrarian Nation, so people who wanted fresh greens through the winter months grew their own by "forcing" roots indoors and harvesting the green sprouts, as explained in the above excerpt. I don't think that the greens from forced turnips will look as full and leafy as the picture above, but I'm sure they will taste very good, no matter what they look like, to a green-starved person in the midst of winter.

In his book, Four Season Harvest, Eliot Coleman tells how to force different roots. Here is an excerpt from the book:

We bring celeriac, beets, and parsley root up from the cellar and plant them in large pots of damp sand in a sunny window. You can also do this with turnips, onions and carrots. There is no need for darkness because you want the new growth to be green. Water the pots every few days to keep the sand damp. A normal room temperature of 60°F is ideal. The vigor of the roots themselves determines the quantity and quality of your production... The celeriac grows small, flavorful celery stalks; the beets grow beet greens; and the parsley roots produce a pretty good parsley. The turnips grow turnip greens, the onion tops can be used like green onions, and the ferny carrot tops make a  nice nibble. Even the smallest shoots of sprouted greens are a flavorful garnish for a midwinter dish.

To add bulk to a salad, you may want to try another winter growing idea from the underground garden. When you harvest cabbages in the fall, remove the loose outer leaves and pull the cabbages—head, stem, and roots—from the soil. Store them upright on the cellar floor, leaning against the wall, with a little sand over their roots. They store very well that way. When you bring a cabbage up to the kitchen, cut the head off for eating, then plant the leftover roots and stem in an upright position in one of the damp sand pots in the window. Add water to keep the sand moist.

Within a few days, sprouts will begin to grow from the leaf nodes all along the stem. You will soon have a bushy mound of fresh green cabbage shoots, which are the foundation for many a fine winter salad, soup, or casserole.

While researching this subject of forcing roots for winter greens, I happened upon an article about digging dandelion roots in the fall and forcing them indoors for greens in the winter....Forcing Dandelion Roots



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1 comment:

RonC said...

Thanks for a very useful article. The Wife had fixed beet greens this Fall and they were very tasty. Hadn't thought it was possible to have them this Winter as well! I also need to try the Dandelions. I dug a bunch of them this Fall and had just tossed them aside.