..Something Juicy from Last Summer’s Garden:
(c) 2014, Davd
The snow is two feet deep at least, and if you dug down through it to the garden, you’d get nothing worth bringing into the kitchen. The nearest to fresh food you can get from a summer garden in winter, will be roots, apples, and cabbages. So .. how to make roots fresh and juicy? and give them some of that sweet taste that really good vegetables can have in the green season?
In the case of carrots—shred them—and add raisins. Shredded down to spaghetti thickness, carrots turn out to be quite pleasantly juicy; raisins add a complementary flavour, extra sweetness, and have a texture that goes well with the shredded carrots.
You can use a “grater” to shred carrots, or an electric “food processor”. My favorite tool is a hand-cranked, three-legged arrangement that uses tapered cylinders to cut the vegetables.* The cylinder i use for carrot-raisin salad shreds the carrots into strings just slightly thinner than uncooked spaghetti; and if you use a “grater” to shred them, or an electric “food processor”, that’s still the thickness i recommend.
When the carrots are shredded, all you do is add raisins—and as usual, i advise adding fewer rather than more to start. You can always add more later; they are near enough to impossible to separate out once added, that i’ve never seen anyone try. (If you do have too many raisins, you can leave some in the bowl, shred in another carrot or two, and put it in the ‘fridge for another day. I haven’t tested how long carrot-raisin salad will keep, but covered in a fridge, it ought to keep say, 2-4 days.)
What kind of raisins to add? My preference, again “as usual” is for robust flavours, so i add darker rather than lighter ones—and smaller rather than larger. If Corinthian raisins, which are often called “currants” in stores, are the same price as larger and paler ones, they are what i’d recommend. I suppose i usually use Thompson seedless raisins when i use store-bought because Corinthians have lately cost a good deal more.
I also have a Beta grape vine, which produces dark blue grapes with a fairly strong flavour and soft seeds; and they have made me good salads many times. I believe i prefer Beta grapes as raisins in the winter, when the garden isn’t producing, rather than as fresh grapes when there are all those other tasty things coming from the garden.
Beta grapes are reported to be hardy to -40; they should grow where most Canadians live. Of the very hardy grapes, they are my favorite so far.
Whatever grapes you dry or buy as raisins, and whatever variety of carrots you shred, this salad belongs in your winter repertoire. The ingredients can be grown in most Canadian gardens, their cost in the stores is moderate compared to most vegetables and sweets today, they keep well until you’re ready to use them, and the taste is quite different from those of beets, cabbage, peas, spinach, and other vegetables that you can freeze well or store in a cold-room or ‘fridge.
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* The tool might have the name “salad-master”, but i’m not certain of that—nor do i know for sure if there might be more than one such tool with different specific designs—i bought mine at a yard sale. I find it easier to use, cooking for one man or maybe two or three, than an electric “food processor”; there is less fuss to setting it up and to cleaning up after. It’s much faster and a little safer for my fingertips, than a flat “grater.” I can set a bowl under and a little outside the cutting cylinder, to catch the shreds, and then eat the salad out of that bowl if i’m eating alone.