Sunday, November 20, 2016

storage of vegetable - and other items, like honey, fruits, etc


I've been winging it so far in storing my vegetables and honey. But my honey has all crystallized and my potatoes are sprouting.

I have a pantry with a temperature system that I can set 60-75ºF. Or I can leave the system off and the temperature will stay about 50ºF since it's on a cement slab. The room also has a dehumidifier. In addition to this pantry, I have a fridge, and a good sized deep freezer. And there are other areas of the house with different temperatures. So, where to store what?

I have a great book on vegetable storage, "Root Cellaring" by Mike and Nancy Bubel. Roger Swain reviewed the basics of vegetable storage in my recent class. And, I've had advice from my readers on a recent post about my vegetable and honey storage.

So, I've looked up winter storage conditions for all the crops I grow. I've figured out where in my house (or garden) I should be able to store them with conditions at least close to optimal.

1- Leave in the ground until just before it freezes Parsnips, carrots, turnips, winter radishes, celeriac

2- In garden under winter tunnel
Greens: escarole, spinach, lettuce, mustard greens

3- Frozen
> In deep freezer
Pesto's, dried fruits, roasted peppers, pears in syrup or plain, raspberries

4- Cool and very moist, 32-40ºF, 90-95% humidity
> In plastic bags in the refrigerator
Carrots, beets, parsnips, Chinese cabbage, celeriac, leeks, broccoli (short term), horse radish

5- Cool and moist, 32-40ºF, 80-90% humidity
> In mesh bags or baskets in the refrigerator
Potatoes, cabbage, apples, pears, endive, escarole, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, eggs
(I'll need bigger fridge once I (hopefully) get apples and pears and better potato crops)

6- Cool and dry, 32-50ºF, 60-70% humidity)
> In my food pantry (set for 50ºF)
Garlic (better at 50% humidity), onions (hang braided)

7- Moderately warm and dry, 50-60ºF, 60-70% humidity
> In my food pantry (set for 50ºF)
Winter squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, canned goods

8- Warm, 70-80ºF
> In the utility room

If you have experience storing these crops, please let me know your advice. I feel I'm a novice here.


Anonymous said...

I think if you put a jar of honey in a pan of warm water it will go back to a liquid form

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this list! I got similar advice from a farmer once, and some of it was definitely counter intuitive to me [I was told to put winter squash somewhere inside "like on a bookshelf"!] but it worked.

Here is my own tip: last year, I got an immense quantity of foraged apples - so huge that I needed to improvise mass storage. I ended up putting them in an unheated attic which stays about 40ish degrees in the winter. I carefully vetted them, storing only the perfect ones, and laid them out in shallow cardboard boxes [in one layer] barely touching each other. They lasted well into late spring!! And the attic smelled great.

This year my fig trees are there: out of the containers, and in plastic bags, and in a dark corner. I have yet to see how this will work, so I cannot yet recommend.

admin said...

I'll be interested to hear your storage notes after this season. These seem like good solutions. I haven't had a pantry or root cellar for the past few years, and although I've tried to keep things at ideal temperatures I haven't been able to through the whole I've been freezing and processing everything. Next year will be a lot more organized.

Anonymous said...

We store all of our root vegetables in our unheated, attached garage. They are layered in damp sand in large food coolers...on the outside wall....carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and celeriac. They last well into the first warm days of spring. We tuck the winter squash into bookshelves around the house, they last a really long time...

expatvishnu said...

My MIL keeps bees and sells honey and crystallized honey is actually considered a sign of quality because it means the honey is raw/was cold processed. There are 2 things you can do to get around it. Gently heat in a water bath (although she has a specific device with a heated tube that can be set to a low temperature while the honey drips through a mesh bag) or create ultrafine crystals by seeding with creamy honey and stirring. Creamy honey is great for spreading on toast with little mess and dissolves well in tea. It doesn´t work well as well for baking/mixing. She doesn´t have space to store honey indoors!

kathy said...

Yes, I prefer the honey crystallized too. The other sign crystallizing shows is that there are pollen grains in the honey, which people really like to have, myself included.

I'm still storing my honey in my garage pantry for space. It's all crystallized. Before I sell bottles, I gently warm them, as you said, to return to liquid. It seems it should be liquid when I sell or give it away.

I have ordered for 30 jars from various people that they want to give as gifts.

kathy said...

BTW, Thanks for the apple storage advice. I wish I had an attic. We have no attic or basement :-( Maybe there will be a place in my husband's workshop that is about 40F in the winter, when he's not working in it. Maybe and out of the way spot on an upper shelf.

I wrote in the post that I'll store apples and pears in a refrigerator. I'm hoping for another good pear year, and a few apple on my young trees. I'm was thinking I'd buy a deli fridge, but I have time to figure out if there are other options.

I also need to figure out peach and cherry storage someday. Hopefully my baby trees with produce within a few years. My cherries, Montmorency pie cherries, I was planning to can and store as pie filling.