Six Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and GardenSix Nations Farmers Market and Garden
End of Harvest - Harvesting, Storing & Preserving
Sa>Knehgo:wah | Kentenha

Home Storage Guide for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Under Ground Storage (Union of Ontario Indians)

Cold storage, cool storage, underground storage or root cellar all means the same thing: storing fruits and vegetables usually in a cool, humid place for anywhere from a couple of weeks to the entire winter, depending upon the food and storage conditions.

Store only sound fruits and vegetables; diseased or injured ones may be used early in the fall or preserved in some other way by cutting out bad sections and freezing, canning or drying. Harvesting, in most cases, should be delayed as long as possible so that you have cold weather to help you keep the food cool once itís out of the garden or orchard. All vegetables and fruits to be stored must be handled with great care to avoid cuts and bruises. Food that is really dirty, usually just the root crops, should not be washed, but rather rubbed lightly with a soft cloth or glove or rinsed under gently running water. Do not bring food warm from the garden right into the storage area. Try to chill food first because itíll take a long time for warm food to cool down once in storage, risking the chance of spoilage in the process.

Vegetables in Underground Storage

Beets: Harvest in late November, after 30F nights. Remove most of the greens and leave a 2-inch stubble. Never cut off the greens right at the root. Do not wash. Pack them in containers surrounded by straw or in moist sand. Place them in an area just above freezing with 95% humidity.
They may also be left in the garden where they have grown. If you choose to do this, cover the rows with leaves or straws, then a layer of plastic and another layer of leaves or straw. The plastic keep the bottom layer of mulch (a mixture of wet straw and leaves that enrich the soil) dry so that you wonít have a bottom layer of frozen leaves or straw. Make the top cover of mulch a foot deep and weigh it down with chicken wire or rocks.
Beets stored at 32F will keep 4 to 5 months.

Brussel Sprouts: Brussel sprouts can be kept in the garden a remarkably long time. Donít pick the sprouts off the stem, but dig up the plants carefully, keeping the roots intact with soil clinging to them. Plant the whole plants upright burying the roots in a box of soil. Water slightly and pick sprouts as they are ready.

Carrots: Store like beets. Carrots stored at 32F will keep 6 months.

Celery: Celery is best maintained by pulling the crop, leaving the roots intact. Do not cut off at ground level. Leave the tops dry, do not wash. The roots should be placed in slightly moist sand or soil, and the plant kept at 32F. Do not store with cabbage or turnips. In areas without very severe winters, celery may be left in the ground covered with a thick layer of leaves or straw.
Celery stored at 32F will last through the winter.

Endive or Escarole: This lettuce should be kept like celery with its roots in slightly moist sand or soil.
Stored at 32F, it will keep 2 to 3 months.

Onions: Pull the vegetable when its top falls over, shrivels at the neck of the bulb, and turns brown. Keep them off the ground in the shade, or bring them inside out of the direct sun for about 2 weeks before storing. Then remove the tops and place in bins or string bags, or braid their tops together and store at temperatures ranging from 33F to 45F with about 60 to 75 percent humidity. Onions stored in a cool, dry place will keep throughout the winter.

Potatoes: Leave tubers in the ground for about 2 weeks after the vines have died to make sure that the potato skins have toughened up for storage. Then dig the potatoes and store in a dark, humid place at about 40F. Lower temperatures tend to turn starch to sugar and change the flavour. Never store with apples because they give off ethylene gas during respiration which promotes sprouting.
Stored at 40F at 95% humidity, potatoes will last throughout the winter.

Radishes: Store like beets. Radishes stored at 32F will keep up to 4 months.

Tomatoes: Ripe tomatoes do not store well, but green ones can be held in storage and be encouraged to ripen there. Harvest all tomatoes just before the first killing frost. Remove tomatoes from plants, wash and allow drying before storing. Remove the stems to decrease the likelihood that the tomatoes will puncture one another. Separate green tomatoes from red ones and pack green tomatoes no more than 2 deep in shallow boxed. Green mature tomatoes will ripen in 4 to 6 weeks if held at 55F to 70F in moderate humidity.Onions: Pull the vegetable when its top falls over, shrivels at the neck of the bulb, and turns brown. Keep them off the ground in the shade, or bring them inside out of the direct sun for about 2 weeks before storing. Then remove the tops and place in bins or string bags, or braid their tops together and store at temperatures ranging from 33F to 45F with about 60 to 75 percent humidity. Onions stored in a cool, dry place will keep throughout the winter.

Fruits in Underground Storage

Many major fruits do not store well for extended periods of time. Make sure that fruits are in separate bins, away from vegetables. Fruits should never be stored with potatoes, turnips or cabbage. Again, ethylene gas released from apples and pears during respiration can cause sprouting.

Apples: These are among the better keeping fruit. The Granny Smith is among the best apples, lasting up to 6 months in cold storage. Storage at 32F and 85-90% humidity is preferred for most varieties. Wrapping in shredded paper helps prevent storage scald (a general texture breakdown and browning of the fruit).

Oranges: Florida oranges may be kept 4 to 6 weeks at 30F to 32F with 85-90% humidity. California oranges can be kept 6 to 8 weeks at 35F to 37F.

Peaches: Peaches are fairly perishable and may be stored only several days to 2 weeks in a cool cellar.

Pears: Pears can be held from 8 weeks to several months. If allowed to begin to yellow on the tree, pears develop hard, gritty cells in the flesh. They should be harvested when the dark green of the skin just begins to fade to a yellowish green, and the fruit begins to separate more or less readily from the tree. Pears should be removed from storage while they are still comparatively hard and green and ripened at room temperature with a high relative humidity. Store at a temperature as close to 32F as possible and with a high relative humidity, ranging from 85-90%.

Good Storage Conditions

Underground storage temperature should be lower than usual household or basement temperatures. The temperature should range from 32F to 40F, and the humidity should be higher than usual, 80% or more.

Temperature: You want to keep the food as close to freezing as possible without letting any of it freezes. The proper range is 32F to 40F.

Humidity: Humidity should be between 80-95% to prevent shrivelling. To keep the air in the storage room moist, you can spray water regularly right on the cement or dirty floor. When ever the air gets too dry, sprinkle the floor with water from a watering can. Be careful not to water so much that puddles collect, these could easily encourage growth of moulds and bacteria. Youíll have to sprinkle each time if the air falls below 80%. You can also get large, shallow pans, place them around the room, and keep them filled with water.

Ventilation: Good ventilation is important in keeping airborne bacteria and moulds that like humid conditions from thriving.

Light: Keep your fruits and vegetables in the dark. Light will speed up the foodís deterioration.

Regular Inspections: Check your food to avoid loss and decay, growth or excessive shrivelling. Decaying food should be taken out as soon as it is noticed. If vegetables start to sprout and grow, the temperature is too high. Foods that begin to shrivel should be wrapped, and placed in closed containers or sprinkled with water.

Storing Your Food

The Cellar Steps: Baskets of fruits and vegetables may be stored on the steps leading from your basement to the outside basement door. But, there must be an inside door to keep out basement heat at the bottom of the steps. Temperatures in the stairwell will go down as you go up the steps, and if the air is too dry, set pans of water at the warmest level for extra humidity.

Window Wells: Another handy food storage area is a basement window well. The ground acts as an insulator, keeping the window well cold, but above freezing. Cover the wells with screening and wooden boards to help keep the temperature inside constant.

In The Ground Storage: In the ground storage means; burying or partially burying containers filled with food, preferably a different food in each container. The earth provides insulation and humidity control, and it keeps out the light. It is a good idea to provide some kind of drainage so that water doesnít seep into the container and create problems.

Buried Box: This is a wooden box made from 2X4ís that are 3 feet wide, 6 feet long and 2 feet deep. The inside is lined entirely with ľ inch hardware cloth, carefully kept tight, as it must keep out rodents. The lid is made of wood. It site on sloping ground so that excess water can drain away. It holds several layers of vegetables, packed in sand to help stabilize humidity and temperature. Cover the first layer of vegetables with a layer of sand, and then continue layering like this until you fill the pit, finishing with a layer of sand, then close the lid.

Mound Storage: To make mound storage, place straw, hay, or dry leaves on the ground, place a particular fruit or vegetable on top of this, and cover with more mulch. Cover the mound with soil, then boarding. A ventilating pipe can be added by placing stakes or pipe through the centre of the pile. This should be capped in freezing weather to prevent cold temperatures from entering a trench is then dug around the mound for drainage. Once the pit is opened, all the food should be removed. Build one mound for one particular food. It is also a good idea to construct your mounds in different places every year, because leftovers in used mounds are usually spoiled. Mounds are used for root crops, pears and apples.

A Build-in Basement Storage Room: A storage room 8X10 feet is going to be large enough for those who plan to store both vegetables and fruits. A room this size will hold 60 bushels of produce. The storage room should be located in the northeast or northwest corner of the basement and away from the chimney and heating pipes. The northeast corner contains the two coldest walls of a house. Windows should be opened whenever the outside temperature is lower than that in the storage room and if the inside temperature is above 40F. Since the light must be excluded from stored vegetables and fruits, cover the windows with opaque material. Keeping the room clean is going to minimize your chances of spoilage. The walls, ceiling and floor should be made of a smooth material that can be easily cleaned. Built-in bins should be removable for cleaning.

Storage Containers for Storage Rooms

Wooden Boxes: Make ideal storage units for root cellars or larger storage areas. Interior packing for stuffing between foods may be leaves, hay, straw, sphagnum moss or crumpled burlap.

Plastic Pails, Baskets and Water Tight Barrels: Layer packing material and produce alternately, finishing with 2 inches or more of packing at the top. These containers are used in pit storage areas as well as in larger units.

Storage Bins: These bins are built into storage areas so that there is no chance of water seeping in from the floor. They should be constructed for use 4 inches off the floor. Make them removable so that you can take them outdoors as the end of the season to wash them. Bins are good for storing potatoes and other root crops.

Orange Crates and Mesh Bags: These are excellent for storage of onions and other foods that need good air circulation.