How To Store Your Garden Harvest
Learn how to keep your crops fresh, long after they've been harvested
During the winter months, when the ground is covered by a thick blanket of snow, there's something particularly satisfying about still being able to eat food from your garden. There are many summer-grown crops including potatoes, onions, garlic, beets, carrots and winter squash, can be stored with relative ease to nourish you right through until the next growing season. Even a modest-size garden can yield a substantial crop of winter keepers.
To be successful storing these keeper crops at home, here are a couple factors to keep in mind:
- Some varieties store better than others, so be sure to seek out the ones that are known to be good keepers.
- Crops that are harvested at their prime - not before or after - store best. Time your plantings so they mature at the close of the season.
- Only first quality, unblemished produce is suitable for storage.
- Optimum temperature and humidity for storage varies by crop, so be sure that the crops you plan to store match the storage conditions you can provide.
Nothing compares to a bite of crisp, just-picked apple. Unfortunately, left on a countertop or in a fruit bowl, apples will get mealy and begin to lose that fresh-from-the-tree taste. The good news is that by storing them properly, you can enjoy crisp, flavorful apples for months.
To maintain good eating quality, beets need to be kept at a constant temperature between 32-40 degrees F, and at 90-95 percent humidity. There are three ways that home gardeners can provide these ideal storage conditions: in a refrigerator, in moist sand or right in the garden.
Like beets and other root crops, carrots prefer to be stored under cool, moist conditions. For winter storage, choose carrot varieties known to be good keepers.
Homegrown garlic is a valuable crop. It's easy to grow all you need for year-round use, and versus store-bought, well, the flavor just can't be beat! For the longest storage time, be sure to first cure your harvested garlic for 2-3 weeks, to ensure the papery outer skins have dried.
No kitchen is complete without onions! And when stored properly, an onion will retain its eating quality for 10 to 12 months. For best results, onions should be stored in a dark, cool space (35 to 40 degrees F) like a cellar, garage, or shed.
Don't let your spuds see the light of day! Potatoes require cool, dry, and dark conditions for the longest storage life. Even a little light will cause potatoes to turn green and become inedible.
Strawberries are a delicious addition to any garden. Sadly, these berries don't store well unless frozen — so take advantage of your garden crop and enjoy them FRESH.
Storing Winter Squash
Winter squash are fun to grow and easy to store. There are dozens of varieties, from acorn to Hubbard, and butternut to spaghetti. When harvesting winter squash, it's important to leave some of the stem attached to the fruit. Breaking the stem off at the base of the fruit will put the squash at risk for disease.
Types of Harvest Storage
|Storage Racks||Lined Bins||Baskets|
|How It Stores||Slatted, sliding drawers provides easy access and plenty of rot-preventing airflow||A jute liner maintains cool, humid storage conditions||Woven bamboo or willow is loose enough to provide plenty of airflow but tight enough to block out light|
|Perfect For||Organizing multiple crop types; keeping bruise-easy crops like squash separate||Carrots, beets, other root veggies, and even dahlia tubers||Potatoes and onions|
|Our Picks||Orchard Rack, 6 Drawer
Orchard Rack, 9 Drawer
|Root Storage Bin||Potatoes and Onion Storage Basket
Stackable Bamboo Harvest Basket
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