CHOOSING ROOT VEGETABLES
- All choices are good as far as the environment goes
- Root vegetables are always edible
- Should be hard and springy
- Autumn – for storing
- Spring – eat immediately
Root vegetables have a lot of great plus points: They don’t need to be imported, they have a long growing season, and they can be stored so they keep even longer.
Harvest September to November
During this period root vegetables are at their freshest, tastiest and cheapest. The autumn’s harvest is stored and gradually sold until May the following year.
Root vegetables are a bit unique. While most vegetables take their time to mature, many root vegetables can be eaten from day one. The growth phase is mostly about just that, getting bigger.
Younger or older?
There’s a big difference between root vegetables harvested early to eat immediately and those harvested late to withstand storage through the winter. Keep them separate. Serve the first category raw and/or cook them briefly. The latter sort are better for slow cooking and roasting.
Hard and springy
Root vegetables should be springy, verging on hard. Don’t pick the ones with damaged and/or soft parts.
Weakest in early spring
Early in spring, just before the first of the new crop appear in the shops, is when the root vegetables stored through the winter are on their last legs. They can be soft and may have absorbed a cellar-like smell from long storage. Be extra picky when choosing ingredients at this time of year.
Roots are a plant’s way of storing energy and they contain large amounts of carbohydrates. But you’ll also find fibers, minerals and vitamins here. Some are rich in vitamin C, such as swede, celeriac and radish. Carrots, as we know, are packed with beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
Root vegetables are rarely imported. This makes them a good eco-friendly alternative whatever the season.