Storage Solutions for Garden Vegetables
The storage solutions for our garden-grown vegetables are just as important as the storage for the store-bought vegetables. We need to have good storage solutions since most of the homegrown vegetable gardeners do not have time for canning or have a root cellar.
Some Ways to Store for Garden Vegetables
There are many easy ways to store away our fresh fruits and vegetables from our gardens for enjoyment later in the year. Onions, garlic, shallots, potatoes, and winter squash.
When they are stored in the proper fashion will remain in good condition for several months. The local produce that we purchase from a farmer’s market can also be stored in the same manner as the products that we grow in our backyard gardens.
We need to harvest all the crops we want to keep for future use before the cold temperatures or the frost damages the tissues of the plants. These harvested crops now need to be “cured” in preparation for storage.
Onions and garlic need to be in a cool, dark place for a number of weeks until the outer skin and stems are dried to a crisp. Pumpkins, winter squash, and potatoes should be cured in a dry, warm place anywhere from 5-10 days so their skins will toughen.
The potatoes will need to stay away from direct light during this time and we should not wash them. After the curing has been completed we need to check the crops for any rot or damage; the slightest sign of decay will intensify once it is stored and it will spread to the other crops that are stored nearby.
Where we store these crops determines how long they last. Light, temperature, and humidity are all very important things to consider. Garlic and onions should be kept in a dark, dry place at 32 to 40 degrees F.
If the temperature gets warmer it can cause sprouting. Potatoes must be in complete darkness with the temperature 45 to 50 degrees F. along with the humidity level between 70-75 percent.
Sweet potatoes need to be stored at 55 degrees with the humidity levels at 85 percent. Winter squash will store better at temperatures a little higher between 50 and 55 degrees and the humidity between 70-75 percent.
Air circulation is also very important for the cool storage of garlic, onions, and winter squash. If we will be storing more than a small amount we may want to run a small fan or have an old-fashioned type orchard rack or some open storage cabinets which will allow for excellent air circulation and easy access to our storage crop.
If we have a stand along with freezer with some extra space, freezing is an easy way to preserve vegetables, fruit, and herbs to be used at a later date. We can also use the freezer attached to our refrigerator but the free standing style keeps the food much colder.
Herbs are probably the easiest to freeze; all we do is to chop them to the size we prefer and place in freezer bags or storage containers. They can also be pureed with olive oil first before freezing. All the berries that we grow can be frozen whole or in a bit of syrup.
Our vegetables will need to be blanched before we freeze them to slow the progression of the enzymes that cause decay. Heating vegetables for the proper amount of time and then cool quickly is very important to keep the quality of the vegetable. Corn and peas are excellent crops for freezing. Peppers are also good because they do not need to be blanched first.
If we only have a small portion of fruits and vegetables that need cold and moist temperatures our storage solutions are solved by placing them in the refrigerator.
They can be stored unwashed, but wipe away any dirt, in open storage bags. We need to remember to keep the fruits and vegetables in separate sections of the refrigerator, such as vegetables in a drawer and fruit on a shelf.
We should keep our potatoes in a dark, cool pantry, not in the refrigerator. Hopefully, this should take care of most of our storage solutions for our homegrown vegetables.