In the past, as cooler weather arrived every autumn, people living in cold climates knew that fresh leafy greens, summer fruits, and sun-ripened berries would soon be giving way to hardier fruits and vegetables on their tables. In central and northern Europe, that meant apples, pears, and root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, and turnips—all of which grow well at higher latitudes and can be stored for a long time were an important source of food for humans and farm animals during the winter.
Thanks to increased globalization and faster transportation today, many foods that are seasonal only in summer are now available at our grocery stores year-round. But as more people in economically advanced countries are choosing to “eat locally and seasonally” again, traditional root vegetables are regaining their place on our autumn tables.
In fall and winter, most of us think of using root vegetables in savory dishes—scalloped potatoes, candied yams, pot roast braised with onions, potatoes, and carrots. But how often do you think of making a dessert with those same vegetables? Well, if you’ve ever made a sweet-potato pie or put ginger into your cakes and cookies, you’ve already been baking sweet desserts with root vegetables.