Produce Storage Tips
Store Vegetables all Winter Long to Save, Eat Local, and Cut Food Waste
Cold storage of vegetables is all about managing temperature and moisture into 4 categories generally:
Refrigerators will dry out uncovered vegetables, and excessive moisture will promote rotting and mold, so it’s always going to be a balance between those two extremes.
If you can manage your winter storage, you can: save money by buying bulk at the end of the season, eat locally all winter, and prevent food waste. Good deal, huh?
BEETS - Beets like is cold (right at or slightly above freezing) with a good amount of moisture. Keep them tightly closed in a plastic bag or container and check occasionally for rot. Clip the tails (taproot), and shave down as much of the remains of the softer leaf stems on top as possible. Those will start rotting first.
Can last 2-3 months.
CABBAGES - Again, they like it just at or above freezing, and moisture, though, I’ve also found they still do pretty well without being tightly bagged or sealed. Depending on how tightly sealed, occasionally check the outer layers occasionally for either dry out leaves, or spots turning black, and peel back as many as needed for it to look good again.
CARROTS - Pretty similar to beets with an even longer shelf life. You can get 5 months out of carrots if stored properly!
Check occasionally for spoiling, soft carrots, and weed those ones out.
Other COOL TIPS: Vegetables with conditions similar to beets and carrots include most root veggies: turnips, rutabagas, parsnips.
They also have the added bonus of being able to be reconstituted if they get a little soft. Just submerge them in a pot of water in the refrigerator for 1-3 days and they will regain 70-90% of their firmness. https://ahundredyearsago.com/2018/03/29/reviving-withered-root-vegetables/
ONOINS - Unlike the previous examples, onions like it very dry. Drier than a typical home refrigerator can get them. So even though they do very well at very cold temperatures, you’re better off putting them in a cellar than the fridge. Air flow is good too. If they start sprouting, so long as they are firm, they’re still pretty good. Once they get soft, compost them, or plant them in a pot for next year!
Can last up to 7 months.
POTATOES - The classic cellar-dweller, potatoes do well in cool and moderately humid conditions. While the others on the list can deal with brief forays into freezing conditions, once a potato touches the freezing point, it seems to collapse into mush. Keep them covered to prevent light from causing the potatoes to sprout.
A few eyes are fine, green skin can generally be peeled, but once the eyes become long tendrils and the potatoes get soft, they’re probably past their prime.
Can last 6 months
WINTER SQUASH - The hard-skinned squash like it warm (for a storage vegetable) in the low 50s, and drier. Perfect for a dry cellar, just set them, and forget them!
Don’t forget them, check for spots, and press them. As the old saying goes: “If your thumb breaks the skin, throw it in the bin. If your thumb is rebuffed, it’s good enough.”
Here’s a brief rundown of general storage suggestions for a bunch of vegetables:
Asparagus - 32 / 90-95% / 1-2 (temp / relative humidity % / max time in weeks)
Bean - 45-50 / 85-90% / 1-2
Beet, topped - 32 / 90-95% / 7-8
Broccoli - 32 / 90-95% / 1-2
Brussels sprouts - 32 / 90-95% / 4
Cabbage - 32 / 90-95% / 12-16
Carrot, topped - 32 / 90-95% / 16-20
Cauliflower - 32 / 90-95% / 3-4
Chinese - cabbage 32 / 90-95% / 8-12
Greens - 32 / 90-95% / 1-3
Kohlrabi - 32 / 90-95% / 4-8
Lettuce, head - 32 / 90-95% / 2-4
Honey Dew - 50-55 / 85-90% / 2-4
Muskmelon - 45-50 / 85-90% / 1-2
Onion, dry - 32 / 70-75% / 28
Parsnip, topped - 32 / 90-95% / 24-26
Pea - 32 / 85-90% / 1-2
Pepper, sweet - 45-50 / 85-90% / 1-6
Potato - 38-40 / 85-90% / 24-26
Radish, spring, bunched - 32 / 90-95% / 1-2
Radish, winter - 32 / 90-95% / 8-16
Rutabaga, topped - 32, 90-95% 8-16
Spinach - 32 / 90-95% / 1-3
Squash, winter - 50-55 / 70-75% / 24-26
Tomato, mature green - 55-60 / 85-90% / 1-4
Turnip, topped - 32 / 90-95% / 16-22
Watermelon - 50-55 / 85-90% / 1-6