Chayote Squash: A New Staple Crop for Northern Gardens?
How to Grow Chayote Squash

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 10, 2020

What is a chayote squash, you ask? Bright green, spiny, pear-shaped chayote squash may just be a new reliable staple crop for BC coastal gardens.

A green pear-shaped spiny chayote squash hangs on the vine. Chayote Squash: A New Staple Crop for Northern Gardens?

Chayote squash

What makes chayote squash so unusual is that it has a mild taste like a summer squash and the texture of a cucumber, but is able to withstand cool fall temperatures. In maritime south coast British Columbia, chayote squash is hardy on the vine until early November.
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Cooking with Chayote Squash
Sautéed Chayote Squash

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 10, 2020

You may have noticed chayote squash appearing at local markets. This unusual bright green, pear-shaped squash has long been cultivated in Mexico and Latin America, and is now making its way to northern grocery stores.

Three bright green spiny pear-shaped chayote squash on a cutting board. Sauteed Chayote Squash Recipe.

Chayote squash

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Vitamin D may Reduce Severity of COVID-19
Test and Supplement with Vitamin D for Health Benefits

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
August 23, 2020

New research points to vitamin D as a low-cost way to reduce the severity of coronavirus.

As medicine urgently searches for therapies to treat COVID-19, no vaccine or effective anti-viral treatment is yet available. Two new studies, however, highlight the relationship between low vitamin D levels and COVID-19 death rates, and point to an effective treatment to reduce the severity of the pandemic.

Salmon Filets. Vitamin D: A Low-Cost Way to Reduce the Severity of COVD-19.

Natural food sources of vitamin D include salmon (above), and mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light. Vitamin D may be a low-cost way to reduce the severity of COVID-19.

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Bread and Butter Pickles

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 28, 2020


This is a traditional tried-and-true sweet pickle—wonderful on burgers, sandwiches, mixed into chicken or tuna salad, or eaten straight out of the jar.

Sliced pickling cucumbers, peppers and onions with salt and ice in bowls. Bread and Butter pickles.

We searched in the stores and never found sweet pickles as good as these. Which is why it’s worth it to spend a few hours on a summer day, canning up enough Bread and Butter Pickles for winter.
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Growing Your Own Garden Seeds
A Look at Seed-Saving Vegetable Plants in Flower

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 10, 2020
The seed head of a leek. Growing Your Own Garden Seeds.

A leek in flower

The shortage of garden seeds this spring gave a foretaste of what it is like when supplies run out. If anything, the shortages demonstrated just how important it is to grow and save your own seeds.

Many gardeners miss the second part of vegetable growing: allowing plants shoot into flower and produce seeds. We’ve been told to have tidy gardens and to pull out our plants as the harvest slows. Nothing could be farther from the truth! As the harvest season slows down, the seeding season is just beginning. The garden is abundant with seeds. We have only to gather and store them to have the most an ample supply we could ever want.
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Why Face Masks are Essential as We Go Back to Work
New Research Shows How COVID-19 is Transmitted and How Masks Can Stop the Spread

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 12, 2020

As farms, food vendors, and other businesses begin to reopen, three new scientific studies show why face masks are an important way to bring the COVID-19 coronavirus under control.

woman in a face mask
COVID-19 has spread so widely because infected people often don’t show symptoms during the first 4–5 days, but still shed virus by breathing, talking or coughing to anyone nearby.
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Basic Foods You Can Make at Home
Homemade Recipes for Dressings, Sauce, Baked Beans, Soup, Pastry, Crackers, and Bread

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 3, 2020

Homemade salad dressings, bread and baked beans. Basic Foods You Can Make at Home.

We’ve put together nine of our favourite basic staple food recipes—from condiments and sauce, to bean pots, soup, bread, crackers, and pastry.

If being in lockdown is doing anything, it’s teaching us to cook at home. We now have time to try new recipes and experiment with foods we never thought of making. Case in point—pantry staple foods. Have you ever thought about making your own salad dressing, mayonnaise, crackers, or baked beans?
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Grow a Climate Change Resilient Garden
Gardening Techniques to Curb and Adapt to Global Warming

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
March 11, 2020

As a gardener, you have many ways to build climate change resilience. Using ecological and regenerative gardening techniques, you can help your garden withstand unexpected weather extremes and bounce back from hardship. You can even help slow climate change by reducing garden carbon emissions.

Garlic plants grow in a climate change garden.

Regenerative gardening works with nature to build the health of the soil and the local ecosystem. This includes reducing carbon inputs, learning to store carbon in the soil, building habitat, and incorporating plant diversity—all of which can make a difference to global warming.
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Seasonal Local Food You Can Eat All Winter
How to Eat Seasonally from November to March

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 27, 2020

A Guide to Local Foods in Season — November to March

It’s called the shoulder season — the cold months after the fall harvest and before the new planting season in spring. When you don’t see much growing outside, you may be wondering: What kind of local food is in season and available in winter?

During the cold season, fresh local farm crops consist mainly of hardy greens and root vegetables. Add in local food that has been stored, dried, frozen, processed, or is grown indoors, and there is a surprising range of available local food in winter.

Eating local food in season is a way you can reduce the carbon footprint of your diet and help curb climate change.

Slideshow: 10 Ways to Eat Local all Winter in South Coast BC


Local winter vegetables are staples for winter slaws, braising, soups and stews. These hardy greens and root vegetables include arugula, beets, bok choy, chicory, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (above), carrots, kale, mache, mustard greens, parsnips, rutabagas and turnips.
Dried vegetables and fruits — especially dried beans and lentils — are basics for hearty soups and snacks. Dried foods from south coast BC (above) include: red lentils, white beans, kidney beans, dried cranberries, sun-dried tomatoes and Orca beans. Look for local dried beans, grains, fruits and vegetables from farmers and farm markets.
Sprouts may be the freshest food you can eat in winter (especially if you grow them in your own kitchen). Full of nutrients and enzymes, sprouts are available from many kinds of seeds, such as alfalfa, broccoli, mung beans (above), garbanzo beans. You can buy finished sprouts, or find seeds for sprouting in many grocery stores. A great boost to winter salads.
Microgreens, like sprouts, are tiny greens grown only until they open their first true leaves. These fresh greens bring an intense flavour and colour to salads and sandwiches. Microgreens grow from seeds such as arugula, broccoli, beets, cabbage chard, kale, basil, cilantro, radish, and mustard. Grow them indoors or look for microgreen farmers in your area.
Fresh winter herbs and leeks provide aromatic seasonings for cold weather cooking. Leeks, rosemary, thyme, parsley, winter savoury, chervil, sage, and bay leaves are available fresh during the cold winter months. Potted basil, a warm weather herb, will thrive all winter in a sunny window. Look for fresh and potted herbs in the produce section of grocery stores.
Frozen fruits and vegetables retain good taste and texture especially when preserved at peak season. Buy up or pick berries and other fresh produce in the summer to pack away for winter smoothies and cereal toppers. In winter, look for local frozen produce at farm markets, or direct from orchards and berry farmers who freeze extra fruit after the harvest.
Local preserves and canned goods come in many delicious and unusual combinations. Look for farmer preserved jams, jellies, pickled vegetables, chutneys, sauces, fruits, syrups, vinegars, honey and fermented foods. Locally preserved foods are available at farmers markets and food stores (or from your own pantry, if you like to can your own).
Mushrooms, foraged or locally grown indoors, are available year-round. Local edible varieties include: chanterelles, crimini (brown button), lobster mushrooms, morels, oyster mushrooms, portabellas, porcini, shiitake and white (button) mushrooms. Mushrooms add flavour to everything from pastas to meats, and stand out as a vegetarian main course.
Stored produce provides a stable supply of fruit and vegetables during the cold season. Kept in cool storage, many crops will last through the winter. Locally grown stored foods include apples, beets, garlic, onions, shallots, potatoes, rutabagas, winter squash, and turnips. In addition, local grains and nuts (hazelnuts and walnuts) are available throughout the winter.
Local meat, dairy and eggs are available throughout the winter. This includes poultry, beef, bison, pork, lamb and dairy products of all kinds. Pacific winter seafood and fish includes clams, cod, crab, flounder, mussels, oysters, scallops, and shrimp. Fresh wild-caught salmon is limited to summer season, but is available canned in winter.
Local winter vegetables are staples for winter slaws, braising, soups and stews. These hardy greens and root vegetables include arugula, beets, bok choy, chicory, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (above), carrots, kale, mache, mustard greens, parsnips, rutabagas and turnips.

Read more:
Chart to Local Winter Foods in South Coast BC

Potato, Leek and Ham Soup

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 2, 2020

Potato, Leek and Ham soup is a warming comfort food for a cold day. This hearty seasonal soup is full of flavour and easy to make.

potato and leek soup heats in a pot.  Ham can be added if desired.

If you’re looking to eat more seasonal winter foods, potatoes and leeks are the perfect cold-weather ingredients. Potatoes store well and are easily available in winter. Cold-hardy leeks grow throughout the cooler months, and provide a unique flavour twist on ordinary onions.
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Best Ways to Cook Potatoes
A Spud Lovers Guide to Potato Varieties

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 22, 2019

Ever wondered what is the best way to cook different kinds of potatoes? Russets, fingerlings, white potatoes, red potatoes, yellow potatoes, and blue potatoes. Here’s a guide to potato varieties and how to use them best.

Slideshow: A Guide to Potatoes—How to Cook Each Variety

Potatoes may be the most economical vegetable you can grow or buy. High in complex carbohydrates, a source of protein and fibre, this long-time comfort food is cholesterol free and has almost no fat of its own.
<b>Red Potatoes – Chieftain, Red Pontiac, Red La Soda -</b>

Red potatoes have smooth reddish skin and white flesh, and are generally round and waxy, with a firm texture. They have less starch than russets or whites. Good in soups, potato salads, boiled, steamed, sauteed, roasted, and scalloped/au gratin.
<b>Yellow Potatoes – Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, German Butterball -</b>

Yellow potatoes have golden flesh and skin, with a buttery flavour. These versatile potatoes are good boiled, mashed, steamed, baked, roasted or French fried. Not as well-suited for shredded dishes, such as gratins.
<b>Blue Potatoes – All Blue, Russian Blue - </b>

Sought after for their unique colour, blue potatoes have a deep purple flesh and skin. With low moisture and high starch (solids) content, blues are often boiled, steamed, baked, mashed or roasted.
<b>White Potatoes – White Rose, Cascade - </b>

White potatoes have white flesh and a smooth light skin. Whites have less starch than russets. They are good in soups, boiled, steamed, mashed, roasted, fried, au gratin, scalloped and in potato salads.
<b>Fingerling Potatoes – Russian Banana, French Fingerlings - </b>

Fingerlings have a distinctive elongated shape with light yellow flesh and smooth skin. Flavourful, waxy and firm textured, these unique potatoes are delicious roasted with herbs. Fingerlings are also good steamed, boiled, baked or in salads.
<b>Russet Potatoes – Russet Burbank, Century Russet, Russet Norkotah -</b>

Perhaps the best known of all potatoes, russets are large with brown, netted skin and white flesh. High in starch, russets are the quintessential baking potato. They are also good mashed, roasted or French fried.
Potatoes may be the most economical vegetable you can grow or buy. High in complex carbohydrates, a source of protein and fibre, this long-time comfort food is cholesterol free and has almost no fat of its own.

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