Mother Earth Living

Store Fresh Veggies the Old-Fashioned Way

Fresh produce can last all winter—without refrigeration—if stored in cool conditions. Use these tips to eat locally all year.
By Amy Mayer
September/October 2009
Add to My MSN

Store beets in plastic bags with holes inside a box.


Content Tools

Related Content

Six Steps to Eating Healthier at College

Editorial intern Samantha Schwartz plans for healthy eating in the Grinnell College dining hall.

DIY: Freshen Air with Chrysanthemums

Many air fresheners can emit toxic chemicals; however, potted chrysanthemums are natural and safe de...

Food Thoughts: Local and Sustainable, Beyond the Greens

Maybe you're a locavore, or a flexitarian. But have you thought about how to make eating meat more s...

Re-Think Your Decor: Vintage Glass Bottles as Instant Bud Vases

Turn your idle household items into makeshift vases. Natural Home guest blogger Margie Monin Dombrow...

Winter doesn’t have to mean the end of fresh, local eating. Root cellaring is a free, easy—often forgotten—way to store fresh produce. Get a thermometer and test nooks in your basement, unheated closets or garage and see how root cellaring can work for you. Dry storage works best for foods from the garden, area farms or orchards; don’t try to store grocery store produce in this way. 

Cheryl Wixson, chef and organic marketing consultant at Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, says temperature is the most important factor in keeping garden veggies from rotting. Different types of produce store best at different temperatures but most can’t withstand freezing. Most produce stores best at relative humidity levels between 60 and 90 percent; thermometers with humidity meters are available at garden supply and hardware stores. Always start with unblemished produce.

Apples: Wixson recommends storing winter varieties such as Golden or Roxbury Russet, Northern Spy and Baldwin; ask your local farm or orchard employees which varieties are best for storage. Keep them isolated in a plastic tub with a lid because they emit ethylene gas, which will rot other foods. Apples store best in cool or cold temperatures, down to 32 degrees, and damp conditions, around 90 percent relative humidity. Check your apples frequently because, as the saying goes, one bad one can spoil the lot.

Beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, celeriac, rutabaga, leeks: Place produce in plastic bags with small holes poked in them inside a box or bury it in damp sand or sawdust in plastic tubs. Keep cool between 32 and 40 degrees with 90 to 95 percent relative humidity.

Garlic, onions: Alliums must be stored in a dry area, but they can withstand warmer temperatures, up to 50 degrees. Paper or mesh bags work well as storage containers.

Potatoes: Potatoes store best in dark, moist conditions at 32 to 40 degrees. If it’s too warm, potatoes will sprout, but this doesn’t spoil the lot. You can break off the sprouts and still eat the potatoes.

Winter squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes: These also require dry conditions above all. You can bury sweet potatoes in a tub with dry sand. Squash and pumpkins can sit out on shelves in temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees. Don't store a squash or pumpkin if its stem has broken off. 

For more suggestions, check out the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

More about fresh, local food

• You can enjoy delicious food and support local farmers by buying meat, eggs and produce in season—year round!

• Want fresh food, but not sure how to find it? Here's 20 tips on how and where to find fresh, local food.

• Use this simple guide to find out how to can, freeze, dehydrate and store fruits and veggies.








Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.