Storing Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs

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Learn how to store your vegetables, fruits, and herbs, especially at harvest time!

Apples

Never leave apples in a bowl on the counter if you want them to keep. Apples keep well for about 6 months at temperatures between freezing and 45°F. If you don't have a root cellar, a double cardboard box in a cool mudroom or cellar can approximate the conditions.

You can also store apples in the fruit drawer of your fridge. It helps to have a damp paper towel nearby to increase humidity.

Remember to give apples an occasional change of air. Apple cider may be frozen after first pouring off a small amount for expansion.

Beans, Dry

Store in a moisture–proof, air–tight container. Beans will stale and toughen over time even when stored properly.

Berries

Never rinse before storage. It washes off the thin, protective epidermal layer. Berries are highly perishable so they don't store for long. If you must store them, place on a paper towel in a tightly-covered container and store in a cool, dry place (or the refrigerator) for 2 to 3 days.

Herbs

Dill and parsley will keep for about two weeks with stems immersed in a glass of water tented with a plastic bag. Most other herbs (and greens) will keep for short periods unwashed and refrigerated in tightly–sealed plastic bags with just enough moisture to prevent wilting. For longer storage, use moisture– and gas–permeable paper and cellophane. Plastic cuts off oxygen to the plants and promotes spoilage.

Mushrooms

Keep them in the refrigerator in a paper bag. The bag absorbs some of the moisture and keeps the mushrooms from spoiling.

Onions and Garlic

Mature, dry–skinned bulbs like it cool and dry—so don't store them with apples or potatoes. French–braided onions and garlic are handy and free to get some ventilation as well.

Pumpkins and Winter Squash

Squashes don't like to be quite as cool as root crops do. They like a temperature of about 50°F to 65°F. If you have a cool–ish bedroom, stashing them under the bed works well!

Root Crops

Carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beets, and other root crops should be brushed clean of any clinging soil and stored in a cool, dark place. Never refrigerate potatoes—it will turn their starch to sugar. Don't store apples and potatoes together; the apples give off ethylene gas that will spoil the potatoes. Clipping the tops of parsnips, carrots, beets, and turnips will keep them fresher longer.

If you have an overabundance of beets, make homemade borscht, the classic beet soup, and freeze. To grate the beets more easily, cook them first. A little vinegar intensifies the color.

Spices and Dried Herbs

Store in a cool, dry place, not above the stove or right next to the burners where heat and steam will cause them to lose flavor dramatically.

Tomatoes

Store at cool room temperature out of direct sunlight. Never refrigerate fresh tomatoes. If you have an abundance of tomatoes: for variety, dry tomatoes and/or marinate them in oil; or can them as salsa, ketchup, or juice.

Tropical Fruits

Tropical fruits do not keep well in the cold. Store bananas, avocados, and citrus fruit, as well as pineapples, melons, eggplants, cucumbers, peppers, and beans at about 50°F if possible.

Other Tips

  • Baby lima beans (not the big, starchy ones) freeze nicely and are much tastier than commercial brands.
  • Rhubarb, petite peas, sweet corn, and diagonally sliced or French–cut green beans are easy to blanch and freeze—and still taste great when thawed.
  • Tomatoes, rhubarb, cucumbers, beets, cranberries, and virtually all fruits (especially peaches) are well–suited to canning, and their subsequent taste tends to be worth the added trouble. As folksinger Greg Brown put it, "Taste a little of the summer . . . Grandma's put it all in jars."

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Comments

Field peas, purple hulls,

By herbgarden133

Field peas, purple hulls, black eyes, can be stored very well by shelling the peas (don't wash)and put in a pillow case. Tie top of case and put in freezer. Take out amount you need, wash and cook! Easy and quick to put up this way but I still can most of mine!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?

By AnonymousRoz

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb-0ZCqga48 first time I've heard that, put it on my FB, next years project to learn about preserving foods, http://rozinbrittany.blogspot.fr/

I can't keep garlic heads. I

By paco12348

I can't keep garlic heads. I purchase a few, put them in a colander with my onions on the counter top and the cloves dry inside and turn brown. I purchased a garlic keeper with holes. The same thing happens. What else can I do?

For fresh garlic, hang your

By tucker42

For fresh garlic, hang your bulbs in onion (net) bags, they will last longer in a barely cool room with lowish humidity. Like a basement, or my back porch.

That can get you through the 8 months or so between planting and scapes, with early garlic a few weeks later.

If it is a hardneck, it will have better taste and flavor, but only last a few months.

Softnecks, specifically a variety such as Incheleum Red or Polish White (Softneck) can still be usable (certainly better than what you might buy at the chain store) for 7-8 months. Some say longer.

You can also dehydrate and powder it, shake, shake, shake it on pizza or toasted, buttered French Bread Slices

You can google dehydrating, but here is a really GOOD tutorial I ran across (it's not mine) for a $1.50, and you can pay with pay pal. It really is good.

http://www.e-junkie.com/222218/product/480257.php#How+To+Make+Your+Own+Garlic+Powder+%28a+photo+tutorial%29

I'll give it a try!!

By Carrothead

I'll give it a try!!

We have not had any luck

By T Younger

We have not had any luck storing carrots (cool, dry, dark places, burlap) they are like rubber by the second day after picking. Someone mentioned that we store them in sand? Any suggestions? we'd like to be able to enjoy some fresh rather than blanching, canning etc. Thanks !

I have had excellent results

By Nola Alt

I have had excellent results by storing my carrots in slightly damp sand. As soon as they are harvested, brush off as much garden soil as possible and cut off the tops, leaving about 1/4 inch. If your carrot bed is really dry, it won't hurt to gently wash the carrots. Add a layer of just slightly damp sand to the bottom of a plastic container (I used clean 5 gal. plastic buckets with tight fitting lids). Add a layer of carrots, cover with more sand,then more carrots until the bucket is full. Snap on the lid and store in a cool place, just make sure the temp. does not drop below freezing. When you want fresh carrots, dig a few out of the sand. They will be fresh and crisp, just like when harvested. By the end of winter, the remaining carrots may have sprouted little hair like roots and some may start to put up leaves. They are still good, just scrub or peel and enjoy. This method also keeps out mice if you are using a root cellar.

Nicholas, all you need do to

By Jonnie Shambarger

Nicholas, all you need do to dry okra is just hang it upside down in your garage. I usually band about 3 pods together with string and thumbtack it to the wall. You can also leave it on the vine and it will dry satisfactorally but will cause the plant to stop bearing. Just be sure to get it in before the first killing frost.

I am trying to dry okra to

By Nicholas Hillyer

I am trying to dry okra to use for decorations eg to add to a garland. I don't have a dehydrator; does anybody have any tips to help me in this venture...!
Nick
hillnik@verizon.net

Nick, try sun drying. there

By Robert Brennan

Nick, try sun drying. there is plenty of methods on the web (google it)

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