Fresh Winter Food

Cold weather is the right time for roasting and baking, and roasting and baking are the right ways to prepare winter food. You’ll likely be indoors more often, and we bet you won’t mind soaking up the extra heat from the oven!
By Tabitha Alterman
December 2010/January 2011
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When cold weather descends, get excited about the winter food that is in season. You can use the tasty fruits, savory greens, nourishing veggies, and hearty meats to make the dishes shown here. 
PHOTO: TIM NAUMAN PHOTOGRAPHY/WWW.TIMNAUMAN.COM


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Winter is upon us. Time to slow down, stay in, and conserve energy. And just as it’s a great time to take stock of another passing year, it’s also the perfect time to take stock of your pantry reserves. Turn to the comfort of foods you’ve put by and the convenience of pantry staples, such as beans, grains, and pasta. And, as always, get excited about the winter food that is in season, which include some tasty fruits, savory greens, nourishing veggies, hearty meats, and an abundance of fresh mushrooms.

Human beings have learned to preserve food in a miraculous variety of ways. Through fermentation, for example, we turn our extra veggies into sour, pickled gems; our fruits and grains into tasty wine and beer; our fresh milk and meat into fine, aged cheeses and charcuterie. Low-tech canning equipment helps us enjoy the summer-fresh flavor of tomatoes, corn, and green beans long after the harvest has ended. Freezing and drying round out our arsenal of food preservation techniques, as almost anything fresh can be frozen or dried for later use.

If you want to honor the cyclical nature of the seasons, this is the time of year that creativity in the kitchen is most valuable. Try to relish sun-dried tomatoes and frozen corn as much as their vine-ripened and freshly shucked counterparts. Look for inspiration in dried herbs and spices, and in long-keeping storage items, such as root veggies, winter squash, and apples. Think about the foods you wish you’d canned or pickled this summer, and add them to next year’s list.

If you eat meat, try to consider the seasonality of animal products, too. Fresh eggs are less abundant in winter, so think about replacing this breakfast staple with high-protein grains instead. Rely on cured or frozen meats, or wild game, such as duck and turkey, bagged in season. Winter is the obvious time to eat beef, bison, and venison, too, as the animals will have fattened themselves up to make it through winter. If you’re lucky enough to live in ice-fishing territory, try to get your hands on fresh-caught crappie, pike or walleye.

What’s in Season? 

The following foods may be in season in many parts of the country during winter.

Herbs: garlic

Salad Greens: lettuce, spinach

Cooking Greens: Asian greens, beet greens, collards, kale, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens

Garden Veggies: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, scallions, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash

Fruits: apples, cranberries, figs, pears

Wild Edibles: cattail shoots, chickweed, garlic mustard, onion grass, watercress

Nuts and Seeds: hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts; pumpkin and winter squash seeds

Mushrooms: black trumpet, candy cap, cauliflower, chanterelle, truffles, wood blewitt, wood hedgehog

Winter Recipes

Balsamic Baked Figs With Mascarpone Cheese Recipe
Baked Beets in Béchamel Sauce Recipe
Festive Winter Coleslaw Recipe
Roasted and Braised Duck With Sauerkraut and Root Vegetables Recipe
Spiked Spicy Cocoa Recipe 


Senior Associate Editor Tabitha Alterman is looking forward to sipping warm cocktails this winter. 


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Post a comment below.

 

CARMEN ORTIZ
1/1/2011 6:41:41 AM
This, for me, is the perfect time to eat root vegetables. My favorite way to make them is to bake them with chicken (from the freezer) so they absorb some of the flavor. A few days ago, my meal had 10 different colors. (Three kinds of potatoes, two sweet potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, beets, garlic and the chicken.) Delicious and beautiful. I grow vegetables in my backyard. I would have added Kale but I had no idea squirrels liked them and they are gone. I could see the tracks. I'm willing to bet it was the one that likes to visit that particular plot looking for nuts from the oak tree just overhead. I don't mind sharing.








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