Get the most out of your harvest by understanding how to store your fruits and vegetables properly. Effective storage not only prolongs the freshness of your produce, but it also maximizes their nutritional value.
The Basics of Storing Fruits and Vegetables
Storing fruits and vegetables correctly requires a dark, cool, and well-aired space. It's best to keep storage containers off the floor using blocks or pallets. Each produce type has individual storage temperature needs to keep them at their best. Monitoring these temperatures and isolating storage containers can minimize temperature variations.
The Art of Storing Specific Fruits and Vegetables
Unfortunately, not every fruit or vegetable stores well. Apples and pears, for instance, are favorable for extended storage. Wrapping them in newspaper and storing them in a single layer in a container can prolong their freshness for 2-4 months. Other fruits such as onions, shallots, and garlic need to be air-dried, braided, and stored in a dry area.
Root vegetables like carrots, beets, and potatoes tend to store best in moist sand. Potatoes particularly benefit from being dried in the sun and brushed off dirt before storage in jute or paper bags, helping prevent mold development. Remember not to wash your root vegetables before storing them, just brush off accumulated dirt.
Winter squashes can last an impressive 3-6 months in storage. It's smart to allow these squashes to harden at room temperature, ideally at 80-85% humidity before storing. Legumes such as peas and beans can also be stored long-term once they've been dried. Additionally, they can be blanched and frozen to extend their shelf life.
The Importance of Storage Conditions
When it comes to the correct storage temperature, root vegetables prefer slightly below 0°C, potatoes do well at 7-8°C, and squashes at 10-12°C. Furthermore, it's key to only store produce that is healthy, free from scratches or wounds. Harvest should ideally occur in dry weather, and root vegetables alongside squashes should be allowed to harden in the sun pre-storage.
Be Aware of Gases and Odors
Lastly, be conscious that some fruits and vegetables emit gases or odors that could affect other produce. For example, apples release ethylene, a compound that ripens surrounding fruits and vegetables. Turnips and cabbages, on the other hand, give off a potent odor that can transfer to nearby produce.