Living Columns & Blogs

Still want to eat fresh and local in the winter months? Here’s how.

Alessandro Ascherio picks out produce to pack up a crate for a customer during the weekly CSA on Tuesday at Tait Farm.
Alessandro Ascherio picks out produce to pack up a crate for a customer during the weekly CSA on Tuesday at Tait Farm.

Looking to eat fresh and local even in the dead of winter? The many farmers and producers of Centre County have you covered.

One, Tait Farm, grows produce year-round, a fact owner Kim Tait said can be surprising to some consumers.

“Many people don’t realize that many greens can still be grown in either a greenhouse or high tunnel and can survive very cold temperatures,” she said. “They are also surprised with how many vegetables can be grown and then stored for winter use.”

Tait Farm offers not only round-the-calendar produce, but also a winter Community Supported Agriculture program. Members pick up a variety of vegetables every other week, with a farmers market-style distribution that allows members to choose their own vegetables. A recent November CSA pickup provided kitchen staples such as potatoes, onions and carrots, as well as lesser-known winter vegetables, such as celeriac, which the Tait Farm Foods CSA e-letter recommends home chefs cook into a celery root and potato latke.

This is only the beginning of the produce available during winter months at Tait Farm, though. According to Kim Tait, you can also find “a variety of winter root vegetables including carrots, beets, mixed radishes, celeriac, potatoes (and) parsnips, as well as winter squash and fresh greens such as kales, collards, spinach, arugula, claytonia ... .”

She has advice for anyone looking to incorporate these fresh winter veggies into their diet.

“Get a good winter cookbook or look online for the myriad of delicious recipes that utilize these nutrient-rich vegetables, from fresh-grated raw winter salads, to hearty soups, stews and gratins,” she said.

Beyond produce, eating local during the winter expands with a bounty of other scrumptious ingredients at the State College Winter Indoor Farmers Market. From dairy products to Alaskan salmon, grass-fed beef to free-range chickens, the 10-plus vendors always have something new to add to your dinner table.

“The quality of products is excellent — still farm-fresh, farm-raised and, most importantly ... in order to be a vendor, you have to make or grow whatever you sell. We’re a producer-only market,” said Tony Musso, market organizer and vendor.

The market, which opened Dec. 1 and runs through April, features vendors within about a 30-mile radius of State College. There’s a few new vendors for the 2017-18 season, including one specializing in Belizean spices.

However, the market hardly offers just food for this upcoming Christmas season. Locally sourced gifts aplenty are available for the shopper looking to spread some Happy Valley joy to family and friends.

“We have a vendor who sells knitted products that are made out of alpaca wool, which he shears from his alpacas,” Musso said. “They make sweaters, gloves, socks. If you’ve ever put on a pair of alpaca socks, they’re the warmest and softest socks you’ve ever had on in your life. Excellent for Christmas gifts.”

Musso’s own brand is Nittany Valley Organics, which sells about 60 different candle varieties, including Christmas fragrances.

“We have organic skin care products — everything we make is chemical-free,” he said. “We package it all very nicely in gift packaging for Christmas. We also have our standard soy candles, which are much safer than a paraben candle.”

The Barn at Lemont provides a similar selection, combining good food and great gifts, all local. According to owner Brian Kinney, the Barn currently offers the hearty vegetables — like sweet potatoes and squash — alongside local meats, eggs, wines and kombucha.

Local craftspeople have also arrived at the Barn this holiday, for a seasonal pop-up shop.

“We reached out to several different local craftspeople, whether it be jewelry makers or artists or knitters or basketmakers, so on and so forth,” Kinney said.

Holly Riddle is a freelance food, travel and lifestyle writer. She can be reached at


1 large celery root (celeriac; 1  1/2 lb.), peeled

1  1/2 lb. potatoes (about 3 large)

2 tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 lb. onions, quartered

 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1  1/4 tsp. salt

 1/2 tsp. black pepper

 1/2 tsp. ground celery seeds

About 1  1/2 cups vegetable oil

Special equipment: A kitchen towel (not terry cloth)

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 250 degrees. Coarsely grate celery root into a bowl. Peel potatoes and coarsely grate into a second bowl.

Add lemon juice and toss. Coarsely grate onions into same bowl. Transfer to towel and twist tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Return to the bowl and stir in celery root, flour, eggs, salt, pepper and celery seeds until combined well. Heat  1/3 inch oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat. Loosely fill a  1/4 cup measure with latke mixture and spoon it into skillet, flatten to 3 inches wide.

Form three more latkes in skillet, then fry until undersides are deep golden, 1  1/2 to 3 minutes. Turn over using two spatulas and fry until deep golden all over, 1  1/2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly. Keep warm in one layer on a metal rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven. Make more latkes in same manner. Use a second rack and baking pan to keep last batches warm.

Source: Tait Farm