In many parts of the country it can be difficult to find fresh, locally grown produce during colder months – that is, unless you delve into the wonderful world of root vegetables. These veggies are hearty enough to withstand cooler temps outside, and some will even stay good throughout the winter when properly stored.
As their name implies, root vegetables grow underground. They can appear as a gnarly root, a long tuber or even a smooth, round bulb. Well-known varieties include potatoes, beets and carrots, although radishes, turnips, parsnips, jicama, rutabagas, celeriac, cassava and yams are also members of the family.
In general, root veggies are high in vitamin C, folate and potassium and a good source of complex carbohydrates, which digest slowly and provide a steady source of energy. The fiber content in most root vegetables means they can help keep you sated and promote a healthy digestive system.
To make your stockpile of yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes and turnips last throughout the winter, keep them in a dark, cool place, but not the refrigerator. Instead, think cupboards or a dry, clean cellar. Other root vegetables should be kept dry and refrigerated.
If you begin to see “eyes” growing on your 'taters or the skin on beets, carrots, turnips or parsnips starting to wrinkle, you can easily preserve them in your freezer. Just peel and cut them into cubes, then boil for about 15 minutes or until tender. Next, spread cubes in an even layer on a cookie sheet before popping them in the freezer. Once the veggies are frozen, place them in a labeled, sealable plastic bag until you're ready to use them.