Written by Asha Nelson
There’s a widespread belief that Manitobans can’t access locally grown vegetables in the wintertime, that our extreme climate simply cannot support year-round production. Well that’s not entirely true. Although we can’t grow in -40 degrees, storage vegetables, which include carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, beets, cabbage, squash, can in fact stay fresh throughout the winter months. It’s just a matter of learning to storage them correctly. And with the deadline for our own Winter Vegetable Boxes just around the corner, we thought it was timely to provide some tips and tricks on how to properly store your veggies so that you can enjoy your locally grown veggies all winter long!
3 factors that contribute to storage life:
Quality: Veggies should only be stored if they are in good shape as damaged veggies are likely to produce ethylene that will spoil themselves and other veggies in the storage space. Always check for bruises, splits, insect damage and other signs of problems before storing.
Temperature: It is important to note that some veggies do well in cold storage (around 0 degrees) while others cannot handle low temperatures and are best stored in warmer conditions. For example, pumpkins, squash, and even potatoes don’t like to be too cold.
Humidity: Storage vegetables need some moisture in the air to avoid spoiling. Dry vegetables, including winter squash, pumpkins, onions and garlic, should be kept off the ground in a dark space and should avoid touching each other. Moist vegetables, such as potatoes, root crops and cabbage, should be stored in a container, a plastic bag or box with damp sand, sawdust or newspaper. If you use plastic, make sure to put a few holes to allow excess moisture to escape.
Remove excess soil but do not wash your vegetables.
Keep your storage area dark (ex: basements, attics and root cellars).
Check your stored vegetables every week or two as storage times vary based on the vegetable, temperature, and conditions.
After taking veggies from storage, use as soon as possible as they will not last long as when they are freshly picked.
How to store each storage vegetables: Beets: Store dirty and with their tops. Can be kept refrigerated or else, store in moist sand or sawdust and keep in a cold, dark location. Carrots: Cut tops off, cover and store in a cool, dark location. Garlic: Do not wash. Store in a dry, dark location. Stores great in a paper bag. Onions: Store in a dark, dry location. Keep away from the potatoes. Potatoes: Do not wash. Pack in paper bags in small batches with a few holes punched into the bags, and covered. Keep in dark spot. Never refrigerate. Squash: Best kept at room temperatures (not in the cold) for overwintering. For more detailed information, check out the following blog posts: