Home Vegetable Storage
Successful storage of vegetables is not difficult and in most homes it merely means utilizing the cellar, attic, a large closet or other parts of the house, depending upon the character of the product to be stored. Cellars containing a furnace for heating purposes are usually too warm and too dry for storing root crops; however, it is often possible to partition off a room either in one corner or at one end of the cellar where the temperature may be controlled by means of outside windows and insulation. It is important that measures be taken to keep rats and mice out of your storage room.
In order to prevent contamination of vegetables which go into storage, care should be taken to discard those showing signs of mechanical injury which might lead to decay.
There are four major things to remember in storing vegetables; namely, temperature, ventilation, degree of moisture, and the quality of the vegetable.
The principal storable vegetables may be kept either inside or outside of the house, provided the requirements as to those four major considerations are met. Few, if any of them, should be in a temperature lower than 32 degrees F. (freezing point), or higher than 50 degrees F. Squash and pumpkins keep better at temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees. Parsnips will stand temperatures of 32 degrees or below, and can be left in the ground all winter if desired.
POTATOES should be stored where temperature will not change too much. They should not be higher than 40 degrees nor lower than a little above freezing. Potatoes should never be allowed to freeze because this will result in complete loss. They should be stored in a dark place and given reasonable ventilation with a fairly high degree of moisture in the air. If the air is very dry it may get too warm in the center of the pile. If stored in the cold corner of the basement, in a regular indoor storage room or in an outside cellar, it is well to put them in boxes not more than a foot deep. If stored in outside ground pits, the piles should not be large. Have them dry when stored.
CABBAGE may be stored in reasonably moist cellar or in an outside pit. It must be at fairly low temperature. Leave a few of the outside leaves on. The roots may be cut off for inside storage but most people leave them on. The outside pit is popular storage. Individual heads may be stored with roots in the soil or they may be placed in a rounded pile, roots up, and covered like potatoes.
CARROTS store well almost any place where the temperature is low and the air is moist. They may be buried in moist sand and stored in the outside pit. Tops should be removed to within 1 inch of the crown. Immature carrots do not store well.
BEETS are storable very much as are carrots. At least an inch or two of top should be left on them. TURNIPS and RUTABAGAS store in the same general way, though the latter store more easily.
DRY ONIONS must be mature before digging, well cured after. To cure windrow them in the garden or place loosely in open or slatted boxes and not more than 3 to 4 inches deep. It may take one or two weeks to cure them, depending upon the weather. The necks will be thoroughly dry when curing is completed. The tops are then removed. Store in a very cool and dry place, with plenty of dry-air ventilation. The odor of onions makes them undesirable for storage inside or where other vegetables or foods may absorb the onion flavor.
SQUASH may be kept several months or even a year if sorted properly. Do not store an immature squash. Handle carefully so as not to break the skin. Do not break off the stem; cut it off 1 to 3 inches deep from the squash. Store in rather dry quarters and where comparatively warm. If too dry, a squash will lose a great deal of weight. If too damp, it will rot. About the same rules apply for pumpkins, but at best pumpkins will not store as well or as long as squash. The way to keep pumpkins past January 1 is to can them.