Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Carrots and Parsnips stored for winter

carrot bounty
I'm cranky and tired. There is a low level persistent headache pounding behind my eyes that I just can't shake.This has been going on for two bloody weeks!!! I have been reliably informed I have caught "the bug".So sorry I haven't been blogging, I been dragging myself around the house like a malnourished zombie.

This time of the year, before the real cold arrives the Autumn months become an incubation chamber for every type of virus, flu, cold and stomach upset going the road. Every fecker who coughs, brushes off or even looks at you seems determined to make you ill.Any of you in a GP's office know that "a virus" is just what doctors call anything they can't cure or put a name on. I don't know if this fecking thing is a "virus" but it's annoying. It cost me a chunk of last week, including a fine Saturday when I couldn't lift my head off the couch or look at food-even though it was a gorgeous sunny day and I had a million outdoor plans. Aaaragh!! At least next Saturday will be fine, if I get my energy back to put it to good use.

good sized parsnips this year
Anyway, back to the time when I did feel well. I have been leaving root crops in the ground over the years with mixed results. We all know what happened in the hard freeze of two desperately cold winters, one after the other. Other winters brought other problems, mice munching crops, slugs and worms tunnelling into them, rot setting after weeks and weeks of endless rain. This year I decided to try storing them properly, after digging them up, cleaning them off and sorting through them first.

Sorting! what a pain in the arse that is. But it has to be done if you want to get the best from your bed of carrots/parsnips. Remember you just spent months growing them from seeds, weeding and minding them through the Summer so yes it is worth the hassle of sorting through them to get the best from the crop, no matter what size it is. Waste not want not people-especially so in a bad year! Has anyone noticed the price of spuds?-already! we are in for an expensive winter I think so be as sharp as you can with whatever you have.

sorting; a two person + one cat job
Back to sorting-basically you make four piles. 

Pile no1 is made up of the perfect carrots/parsnips, free of damage of any kind including holes from tunnelling slugs or root flies.

These perfect carrots/parsnips are the only ones that can be stored long term in a bucket/container of sand in layers. Just make sure that each individual carrot/parsnip are not touching off each other in that container.The container can be left outside or left in a shed. You get to use them when you have used up all the other grades of carrot first,(or the in laws come for dinner and offer to help with the veg prep and you want to show off).

Pile no 2 is made up of your second best carrots/parsnips. These are not quite perfect, they have an odd hole or some slight damage. You can't store them long term but you can keep them short term, maybe in a hessian sack in a cold shed. But the plan is to use them in the coming weeks, as much as you can.

Top grade carrots and parsnips; even with extra legs!
Pile 3 is made up of the usable but bad carrots/parsnips. These carrots/parsnips have serious problems like tunnelling pests and rotten bits but once the bad stuff is cut off there is usually some good usable chunks in between. You can't store them at all. It's worse they are going to get so use these ones first, keep them in a bucket in the kitchen or somewhere cooler close by. Even wanted to make carrot cake, juices with carrots as the base, carrot/parsnip soups, vegetable crisps? here's your chance.

Pile no 4 our last pile is made up of the totally unusable carrots/parsnips. Ones with so much bad bits you have trouble locating any good bits! These is only one place for these and that's the compost heap.

So there you have it. And for the record I'm not just saying all this. As I write I'm guzzling on soup no 2 that involves a solid base of carrots(it's a sweet potato, chili, coriander and coconut cream soup). Please don't ask me to post recipes, I have tried and failed because I don't have time. I even tried setting up a recipes blog to go with this one-it has all of one entry!! And besides which there are loads more people, much better than I (hard to believe I know) blogging and writing full belt about cooking.Theres Jamie, Hugh, Delia, Darina, Nigel, Catherine,..........and a million amateur cooking bloggers!

the empty carrot bed

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