On Cooking in the Cold:
Q&A with Crooked Carrot
Interview and photo by Carly Browning
Crooked Carrot, featured in my last recipe, extends far beyond my favorite pickled green beans. They sell their products all through the winter and are constantly coming up with new favorites! Check out our interview with them below about the challenges and rewards of using all local produce year-round and how it leads to such rewarding and delicious products.
Edible Finger Lakes: How many years have you been operating through the winter?
Crooked Carrot: We have been cooking and producing pickles using exclusively local produce through the winter for the past 4 years.
EFL: What are some of the challenges you face during the winter and how do you cope with them?
CC: Cooking with only local produce during our long New York winters is a wonderful and rewarding challenge! We cope with what we can’t get during the winter in a couple of ways. First, with old fashioned creativity! We have come up with lots of new and interesting things to do with storage crops like roots and cabbage that are available year round. Second, we preserve things like tomatoes, peppers, fresh ginger, etc. that are only available for a short season. We do this through both canning and freezing. This preservation of local summertime food has become one on the focuses of our kitchen. We want to create products that will help local folks eat local food for more of the year. We currently have two canned tomato products, apple sauce, and frozen squash puree, in addition to our line of live-culture pickles. In the future we hope to expand our frozen veggies options. For example, it seems like a shame to buy kale from California for half the year when our climate right here is so well suited for growing it!
EFL: What is your favorite thing about winter operations?
CC: My favorite part about preserving fresh foods for consumption all winter is that you can still sit down to a meal in the middle of February, with the snow blowing outside, and know that all your veggies came from right here in the Finger Lakes! To me, that’s a powerful thought. Here in the Northeast, preserving local food for the winter has to play a key role in building a truly viable regional food system. We’re hoping that the processing work that we do can help make that happen in some small way!
EFL: Did you produce anything different this year than you have in years past? If yes, what led to that decision and how has it be going?
CC: We made a live-culture fermented hot sauce for the first time this summer. A beautiful, bright red Louisiana-style sauce. It came out with a really nice balance of savor and tang, and was a great way to preserve some spicy, peppery goodness for the winter. (You might be able to tell from my description that it happens to be one of my personal favorites!) It has been so popular that we’ve already sold out, so we’ll definitely be making more this summer!
EFL: What are you looking forward to most in the spring?
CC: It’s always exciting to start seeing new green, growing things in the spring, and to have more ingredients available after a winter full or root crops! Our first big spring project is usually pickling garlic scapes in June.
Crooked Carrot is at the Ithaca Farmers’ Market and their products can be found online.
Carly Browning is a senior at Ithaca College and the writing intern at Edible Finger Lakes.