Better After Frost

Every fall we scramble for sheets and coverings to protect our produce gardens from frost. But some of those vegetables should be left exposed in order to improve their flavor before harvest!

Spinach by Midwest Gardening.jpg

Of course we already knew that cool season vegetables are not bothered by cold weather and frost. But amazingly some of them actually taste even better if they are exposed to frost before harvesting. Some of these are vegetables that have a bad reputation for being bitter.

But exposure to frost causes them to produce sugars by breaking down starches. Since sugar has a lower freezing point than water, the sugar acts as a sort of antifreeze, protecting the vegetable from dropping temperatures. Our plants are just so dang smart it constantly amazes me!

The cool season crucifers are generally sweetened by frost, but not all. And there are others that benefit. But don’t get carried away and leave them in the garden for repeated frosts or freezes. Root vegetables are kept warmer by the soil and will survive longer exposure.

  • Arugula

  • Beets

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels Sprouts

  • Cabbage

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Collard Greens

  • Kale

  • Leeks

  • Parsnips

  • Rutabaga

  • Swiss Chard

  • Turnips

If you must harvest before a frost, try deep freezing your produce immediately out of the garden for about 24 hours before using. This should be effective for Collard Greens and Kale for cooking in particular, but give it a try for others too!

Sharon DwyerComment