The Sacred Path

Journeys through the mist

Eggplant in winter

First of all, I’ve never been a big fan of eggplant, but I have a few variations of vegetable stew I like to make that eggplant is so right for. Sadly, here in Wyoming, most of the eggplant that finds its way into the produce departments of the grocery stores during winter has been frozen due to the long travel times from the distribution centers. A soggy, spongy, brown mess.

Eggplant isn’t the only vegetable that gets the deep freeze, it’s pretty much anything you find in the produce department. The other day I bought some fresh(?) basil to put in a stew, and by the time I had trimmed off the freeze damage, I had twice as much fodder for the compose pile as I did useable basil. Green peppers don’t take well to freezing temperatures either and are usually wrinkled and soggy. With all the waste, it would almost seem better to just close the produce departments from November to say, February in these parts.

I wish it were as simple as packing up and heading to places with less extreme winters, but at this time, it is not simple.

I’m on my way to the grocery store for veggies in a little bit. Wish me luck.

7 Comments

  1. Suppressing my first reaction (which is that if tomatoes don’t grow in a given climate, people probably shouldn’t live there), your post does point out a problem/opportunity that is going to get vastly bigger in a very short time. We have in the past 50 years gotten accustomed to having all manner of produce in our stores regardless of season. But that expectation is entirely dependent upon the availability of cheap fuel. As soon as fuel costs go up significantly, long-distance shipment of produce becomes much more expensive. Therefore the quality goes down, availability diminishes and price increases — all at the same time!
    The problem is well described in your post, Richard. The opportunity concealed within the problem is that locally-grown produce — in greenhouses, say — will now have an opportunity to become commercially feasible in places where it hasn’t been. We have become accustomed to buying lettuce that has been shipped as far as 3,000 miles from California eastward. When shipping costs go high enough, local growers will be able to compete again, which means that the food we eat may become fresher and healthier — the trade-off is that it may become more expensive and far more seasonable than we have become accustomed to. When my mother was a little girl, one of the things they looked forward to in their Christmas stockings was an orange, because they were not normally available in winter time.

  2. My dad used to get an orange in the winter, too! I’ve found that green, yellow, and orange peppers freeze well if they are sliced and frozen very quickly. But you have to be able to get at them when they’ve just been picked. As far as the “E” plant goes, no, they don’t like to be cold…
    The macrobiotic people believe we should only eat seasonal food grown where we live. That’s not always easy, but, as Frank said, may become necessary.

  3. Seasonal food huh? Since the weather is too cold in the winter to grow anything, even in a greenhouse, that leaves slim pickin’s.

    Besides wildlife (which is considered a vegetable here ’bouts), that would be dead grass and leaves, sagebrush, twigs, bark, rocks, and the occasional snow drift. Does anyone know the nutritional value of a bark beetle? I expect they are crunchy. :)

  4. Aww, I hope you found some decent veggies! I wonder if there is some kind of frozen vegetable stir fry mixture that might have eggplant in it that you could purchase to make your stew with instead? They sell vegetable only stir fry mixes, don’t they? I wonder if eggplant can be frozen at all and come out ok? At the least, the frozen veggie stir fry mixes would be a better option to some of the other damaged vegetables, wouldn’t they?

  5. @KatK
    I thought of frozen, but since eggplant turns to mush, they don’t freeze it. I’m just having to adapt and buy what looks good; yellow squash, zucchini, frozen green beans. I’ll survive.

  6. I know eggplant as ‘aubergine’, but frozen aubergines sound horrid. I don’t know what to suggest – for a similar texture could you grow your own mushrooms – you just need spores, rich compost (ooh, that’s your freeze-damaged egg-plants re-used), and a dark cupboard? For taste, I’d suggest courgettes, but they’re probably freeze-damaged, too, alas. Good luck with your veggie shopping trip.

  7. @Sarah-Jane
    Mushrooms, surprisingly come in OK, and I love them. There are of course also dried mushrooms, which work very well in soups and stews. I’m getting by, I’ve just had to adapt. It’s not like I haven’t had this problem before.

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