Mother Nature is now moving sugars from leaves into the ground, i.e. roots, for winter storage. In the Northeast, October is a prime month to harvest and enjoy these crops. All roots become sweeter after a hard frost.
Thus the pungent roots like garlic, onions, radishes (including horseradish) are best harvested earlier, but the ones that we want to be sweet, like carrots, parsnips, beets, salsify, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips and dandelions can remain in the ground longer, especially if given some cover, like hay or leaves. However, beware, mice and other rodents also enjoy them and such covers provide shelter for these critters.
Burdock root from first year plants can be harvested now, too. While burdock is known as a blood cleansing alterative herb as well as a food (gobo is its Japanese name), it’s not equally helpful for everyone. In fact, it’s actually contraindicated for people with O blood type, per Dr. Peter D’Adamo (Eat Right 4 Your Type)! I’ve reacted badly to it on several occasions (I’m type O).
Store root veggies in your refrigerator crisper drawers. Exceptions are sweet potatoes, white potatoes, garlic and ginger (rhizome). Onions store best in cold with low humidity; white potatoes, in the 40’s with high humidity; sweet potatoes, ginger and garlic are best stored at room temperature, with low humidity.
Black radishes (Raphanus niger, cruciferous family) grow well in the Northeast and were traditionally stored over the winter. They are larger than springtime radishes and the strongest tasting radishes that I’ve had, but probably the most beneficial!
Qualities of Black radishes:
Super alkalizing—neutralize acids from other foods
Digestive builder—for liver, gall bladder and bowel peristalsis
Estrogen balancers—favoring balance of the healthiest forms of estrogen
Aids in hypo-thyroidism, (not a source of goitrogen)
High in indole-3 carbinol, as are other cabbage family veggies
Indole-3 carbinol (from the Life Extension website):
“It is a sad fact that the very hormones we need to stay young can cause adverse effects as we age. Consumption of cruciferous vegetables, however, can favorably alter one’s hormone profile.
“For instance, animal studies have shown that the cruciferous vegetable extract indole-3-carbinol (I3C) modulates estrogen hormones by favorably changing the ratio of protective 2-hydroxyestrone versus the damaging 16-hydroxyestrone. Indole-3-carbinol also induces phase I and II detoxifying enzymes that can help neutralize estrogen metabolites and xenobiotic estrogen-like environmental chemicals.
“Human studies support the beneficial role of I3C in positively altering estrogen metabolism. Di-indoyl-methane (DIM), a phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables, has been shown in animal studies to help maintain normal levels of a potentially damaging estrogen called 4-hydroxyestrone.”
Tips: Peel to use raw or cook like a turnip (black radishes are denser so allow for longer cooking time). Grating will lessen cooking time. Put grated radish in soups and stews in the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking.