Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The first freeze has hit with a vengence here in my area and it is finally time to harvest some of the fall veggies. There are certain vegetables, like kale (especially red russian), collards and jerusalem artichokes that really shouldn't be harvested before the first freeze. Freezing temperatures actually sweeten the vegetables, making them much tastier after the frost than before.

But why is this? Well, it usually happens with veggies that are capable of keeping green leaves going well past the first several light frosts. In the case of jerusalem artichokes, they are adapted to northern climates and keep their tubers above the frost depth, which can be several feet in parts of their habitat. In both cases, the plants need a natural antifreeze in their flesh that keeps the ice crystals from forming as long as possible.

Now, the antifreeze in your car is seriously dangerous stuff. It is loaded with different kinds of sugars that keep the water from freezing, but it also has pump lubricants that help all the machinery running. The sugars make it taste yummy to animals and children while the lubricants kill them.

Plants basically use the same system to keep themselves from freezing, without the toxic side effects. By upping the concentration of sugar in their flesh, they keep the damaging ice crystals at bay. In the process, they make themselves sweeter and thus tastier.

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