Root vegetables such as carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, and others are a delicious addition to any fall or winter dish. If you’re lucky enough, and have been patient, you’re sure to be rewarded with delicious, nutritious tuber meals this winter! Proper harvesting and storing your fall bounty are key to culinary success.
There’s no need to feel overly rushed when it comes to harvesting beets, carrots, and parsnips. These root vegetables are cold hardy and can tolerate autumn frosts. Be aware that any part of the vegetable exposed above soil is susceptible to damage if heavy frosts are forecasted. Size matters when it comes to root vegetables, especially beets and turnips.
Smaller, golf ball sized beets and turnips will provide a sweet and tender taste, while anything above a tennis ball size can lose their tenderness and sweetness. To enjoy sweet, mouth-watering parsnips, allow the leaves to die back and harvest following an initial frost. Harvest these root veggies by gently pulling the leafy portion of the plant or using a garden trowel or Hori-Hori tool to gently loosen and lift the root from the earth. Remove all but the top ½” of leafy foliage, keep root end hairs intact and brush off the excess dirt – avoid washing roots until you are ready to consume. Carrots are ready for harvesting when they show ¾” to 1” of their shoulder above the soil, which is typically 70 to 80 days after planting. It’s often a good idea to water your root vegetables a day before harvesting to loosen the soil. Tug firmly on the base of the carrot while twisting the root to help dislodge the carrot.
Root vegetables will continue to sweeten during storage if placed in a dark, humid environment (90% to 95% humidity) with a constant 32-to-40-degree temperature. Beets, carrots, and parsnips will stay firm and sweet for up to five months.
With your roots now properly grown, harvested, and stored, it’s time to focus your attention toward enjoying your efforts! Here are some of our favorite dishes…we’d love to learn more about your favorites!
Oven Roasted Carrots, Beets, Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes:
Your choice to peel the vegetables or not (I typically peel parsnips), chop root vegetables into equal bite sized pieces, toss vegetables together with olive oil, salt pepper and fresh herbs (rosemary sage are my favorites). Add a touch of fragrant saffron or sage oil for a little boost to the earthy flavor. Spread the mix across a pre-sprayed baking sheet and slide in to the pre-heated 425 oven for 25 minutes.
Hearty Root Vegetable Soup:
Peel parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots. Chop root vegetables into equal diced sized pieces, add a diced onion. Saute vegetables in olive oil, add garlic and spices (thyme, rosemary, and sage), be sure to salt and pepper along the way. Stir infrequently to allow the vegetables to caramelize. Add vegetable stock, bay leaf, and allow to simmer (25 to 30 minutes). Squeeze a lemon and add a dash of pan sautéed kale for a delicious, nutritious hearty meal!