If you can grow it you can store it, hopefully.
With the growing season now officially in the past, it's time to pack up vegetables and store them properly. According to Katie Drewitz, University of Minnesota Extension educator of horticulture, figuring out how to pack away vegetables is probably easier than finding where you're going to store them. She said that finding the perfect storage conditions can be a challenge.
"Basements, root cellars, refrigerators, garages and sheds are all locations people attempt to store produce," writes Drewitz in her recent article "Storing Root Vegetables".
Drewitz recommends that root crops should be stored in "moist sand, peat or sphagnum moss" or a plastic bag with holes cut in it every six inches.
"This helps provide essential air movement to prevent condensation and helps prevent shriveling and prolongs shelf life," Drewitz said.
Straw, hay or wood shavings to insulate the bags will also help to obtain ideal temperatures for produce.
"Expect the shelf life to be shortened by 25% for every 10°F increase in temperature," Drewitz said.
Vegetables should then be stored in an area with good ventilation and where rodents aren't able to access. To ensure a long shelf life, Drewitz said it's important to understand what storage category vegetables belong in, and how long they'll last.
Here's a list from Drewitz of produce that can be placed in cold, moist storage (32-40°F, 90-95% relative humidity), how it should be packed and how long it will last:
- Beets (store without tops): 5 months.
- Carrots (without tops): 8 months.
- Parsnips (do not wax): 4 months.
- Potatoes (cured at 50-60°F or two weeks before storage): 6 months.
- *Rutabaga (do not wax): 4 months.
- *Turnips (can be waxed): 4 months.
- *Cabbage: 5 months.
- Kohlrabi (without tops): 2 months.
- Cauliflower: 3 weeks.
- Broccoli: 2 weeks.
*Will give off odors
Produce that should be stored in cool, dry storage (50-60°F and 60% relative humidity):
- Pumpkins (sensitive to temperatures below 45°F): 2 months.
- Winter squash (field curing recommended): 2-6 months depending on variety.
Vegetables that should be stored in cold, dry storage (32-40°F and 65% relative humidity):
- Onions (cure at room temperature 2-4 weeks before storage, do not store near apples or potatoes): ranging from a few weeks to a few months depending on variety.
Drewitz said the final step of the storage process is to check on produce to ensure it hasn't started to mold.
"Discard any that show signs before it impacts others," Drewitz said.
Marlene Geiger, a specialist with Iowa State University Extension, said there's a shortage of jars, pectin, vinegar and spices used for pickling and canning.
"It is a matter of supply for an unanticipated demand along with a slowdown in manufacturing due to either worker safety or shortages of raw materials," Geiger wrote in her article "Safe Canning Amid Canning Supply Shortages."
Geiger said that while jars are in demand, people looking for storage options may be able to find old jars or jars at secondhand stores. She said before using an older canning jar, "an inspection for nicks, chips and cracks" is a must.
"A damaged or disfigured jar should never be used for canning food," she said.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, under no circumstances should canning lids be reused. A jar with lid not sealed effectively can spoil, and the contents may become unsafe to eat.