Stocking up the Root Cellar

How well do you know your root vegetables? Above, clockwise from top left we have: Gilfeather turnips, red-top turnips, kohlrabi (aka a German turnip in the same family as the rest) and rutabagas. The great thing about roots is that they are so very versatile. To quote Samwise Gamgee, you can “boil em, mash em and stick em in a stew.”

Eating with the seasons calls for a familiarity with vegetables that are likely often overlooked. In the past your diet during the cold winter months would be limited to the vegetables in your root cellar, which (if the name didn’t give it away) would be full of roots like potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, and turnips, alongside cabbage, jams and preserves, and salted meats.

The cookbook, ‘A New System of Domestic Cookery; Formed Upon Principles of Economy: and Adapted to the Use of Private Families’, by Maria Rundell in 1810 details how one would store these vegetables. Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress.

She also includes a recipe for Turnip Pie.

As well as instructions for preparing Beet roots.

If the instructions seem sparse compared to cookbooks today, it was because many of the early cookbook writers expected the reader to have a basic knowledge of cookery. This knowledge would have been passed down from generation to generation from mother to daughter. Re-learning the self-sufficient traditions that our great-great grandparents practiced brings us closer to the land and to living in harmony with the seasons.

-The Cedar Circle Farm Team

P.S. For examples of historic recipes juxtaposed with modern instructions click here. Scroll to the bottom of the page for an easy Winter Vegetable Soup recipe.

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