Storing homegrown produce

Posted on: 02 October 2019 by 50connect editorial

Harvest time can leave you with a lot more produce than your fridge and larder are ready for. Here are some tips on how to store the fruits of your labour down the allotment.

pear tree

Prolong the life of your produce

Even if the plantings were planned and timed exactly, there is always a period when every kitchen gardener has a glut of produce. Here are a few tips on how to harvest and store the fruits of your labour so they see you through to the beginnning of winter.

harvest time basics

The basics

Root crops are the hardiest of vegetables and will be perfectly happy stored for many months. Crops like tomatoes and peppers can only be stored for 4-6 weeks so bear this in mind when harvesting your crop.

It is vital you handle the vegetables you are storing as little as possible. Vegetables that are handled less can be stored for longer periods of time.

Pick the crops extremely carefully. Check each item for nicks and bruises and only select the cream of the crop for storage. The vegetables should be in perfect condition so they will not spoil other produce. Do not store any under-developed vegetables either.

  • Carefully wash and dry all vegetables before storing.
  • All vegetables should be stored in a very cold, dark and ventilated room such as a garage or cellar.
  • Store in boxes, insulated with straw or wood chippings, but remember fresh produce needs to breathe too so leave gaps to let the air flow freely.
  • Don't forget to think about livestock when choosing where to store your vegetables. Nothing would be more disappointing than opening the box to find rats have knawed half your produce. 

Root crops

Root crops

Root vegetables can withstand colder temperatures than other crops and do not need to be harvested until the danger of the first frost.

  • Cover the leafy tops of carrots and beets with straw and a mound of soil to insulate them from ground frost.
  • Once picked, beets can be stored for five months and carrots up to eight months.
  • Onions do not need to be harvesteed until the green leaves turn brown and start to droop.  Remove the soil and place in mesh bags in a cool, dark, ventilated area until they sound crispy to the touch.  Box them up and store in a cool, dark area.
  • Parnsips withstand freezing so can be left in the ground until early spring.

Lettuce and cabbage crops

Other crops

  • Tomatoes and peppers can be stored in polythene bags punched with holes in a cold fridge for 4-6 weeks.
  • Cabbages and celery give off ethylene so store them seperately, away from other veg.
  • Pack cabbages upside down so the soil doesn't fall in between the leaves. They will store for up to 5 months.
  • Cucumbers cannot be stored. After two weeks the flesh inside their skin starts to turn yellow.

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