Contact Us

The Passionate Gardner for Sept 15, 2011

Frost is right around the corner, so it’s time to pick and store the harvest. I freeze, cold-store, dry, or dehydrate these common vegetables:
Beans, peas: Dried legumes are easy to store in jars. Freeze fresh green beans, snap peas, and shelled peas.
Beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips: Wash roots, trim tops to 1/2 inch, place in perforated plastic bags, and store in refrigerator or cold cellar. Storage life is 2 to 4 months. With a heavy layer of mulch, carrots and parsnips can also be over-wintered outdoors in the ground.
Broccoli, cauliflower: Harvest when florets and heads are still tight. Store in perforated plastic bags for up to 1 week in refrigerator. Freeze any surplus.
Cabbage: Harvest when heads are solid. Remove loose outer leaves. Store in a refrigerator or cold cellar in plastic bags for up to two months. Cut up and freeze surplus.
Cantaloupe: Store ripe melons in refrigerator in plastic bags for up to 10 days. Try a few containers of frozen melon balls.
Corn: Harvest at peak of quality, husk, and store in plastic bags for no more than two days in a refrigerator. Freeze surplus corn either on or off the cob.
Cucumbers: If you are not making pickles, store slicing cucumbers in the refrigerator in plastic bags. Storage life is about one week.
Eggplants and sweet peppers: These are not adapted to long storage. Refrigerate for up to two weeks. I put eggplants and peppers into tomato sauces that I cook up and freeze.
Greens (chard, collards, kale, spinach): Greens do not store well but can be kept in plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. I freeze any greens I am not going to use right away.
Onions: Harvest when the tops have fallen over and the necks have shriveled. Store in mesh bags in a cool, ventilated place. Freeze chopped onions in small batches to add to winter fare.
Potatoes: Wash potatoes and remove diseased or damaged ones. Cure for about one week in a shaded, well-ventilated place. Avoid exposing tubers to light. Ideal long-term storage conditions are 40 degrees F, 85 to 90 percent relative humidity. Storage is 2 to 4 months.
Squash (summer): Zucchini and other summer squash can be kept for up to one week in the refrigerator. I cook summer squash in tomato sauce recipes that I freeze. Summer squash can also be sliced and dehydrated to add to soups and stews.
Squash (winter): I simply store my acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and other winter squash on paper-covered shelves in my cool pantry. Turn the squash over every week to check for mold or soft spots.
Drying is the easiest way to preserve fresh herbs. Rinse herbs in cool water and shake to remove excess moisture. Discard all bruised, soiled, or imperfect leaves and stems. For leafy herbs, like basil, dill, sage, parsley, mints, oregano, tarragon, thyme, savory, and others, tie into small bundles and hang the bundles to air-dry indoors out of direct sunlight. Spread chives cuttings out on paper to dry.
When the leaves are crispy dry and crumple easily between the fingers, they are ready to be packaged and stored. Dried leaves can be left whole and crumpled as used, or coarsely crumpled before storage in air-tight glass bottles.
For the freshest herb flavor, rinse the leaves and remove stems. Pat the leaves dry. Pack into small plastic bags and freeze. Freeze-dried leaves are ready for the cooking pot.