By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Mid-winter meals often call for “something fresh.”
At the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, “something fresh” in February usually means stored fruits and vegetables from late summer harvests, or items like microgreens and pea shoots that can be grown in flat trays over heating mats or under lights, or small tomatoes and cucumbers that can be grown in greenhouses.
All that is good. But sometimes the taste buds want something more – out of season peppers, beans, broccoli, a wide variety of tomatoes, or corn.
In the past, saving foods for the winter was a necessity. In a practice known as “putting foods by,” families salted, pickled, dried, canned or otherwise preserved freshly harvested fruits or vegetables for later use.
The rise of global shipping and grocery chains caused many to abandon the practice, as did changes in the societal structure that led to longer working hours and more activities outside the home. It became faster and easier to just drop by the store.
But I hate buying non-local produce. I love growing food with my husband and supporting my farmer friends by buying what they grow. Last September I decided to try putting foods by in a simple way: I stored fresh tomatoes, beans, peppers, broccoli and sweet corn in freezer bags. On my mind then was Chowderfest, and its fabulous chowders, many of which get their zest from non-winter foods.
The result? Winter meals with more variety, flavor, and color – fresh tomato sauces, roasted broccoli, and braised beans served alongside the apples, turnips, carrots, and microgreens I can still get weekly at the market.
I hope to finish off these delights by early May when the market moves to its outdoor location on Wednesdays and Saturdays at High Rock Park. Then, I will start planning for next winter. I invite you to join me in this venture as you visit the market now and in the future.
As for chowder, I am thinking classic New England, made with clams (Pura Vida Fisheries) or chicken (Squashville Farm, Ramble Creek Farm, Mariaville Mushroom Men, and others), milk (Battenkill Valley Creamery), potatoes, and kernels of sweet corn, purchased last summer for weekends like this.