Storing Winter Keeper Boxes

Here are some instructions for those of you who got Winter Keeper Boxes or have other vegetables you’d like to store.

The items in the box have different requirements for storage. However, nothing should be exposed to freezing temperatures. One key is to periodically check your vegetables in storage. Remove any items that are getting soft or starting to rot. You know the saying, “One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” Well, the same is true for other fruits and vegetables. One rotting squash will cause the others to rot. I try to look through my veggies every few weeks and pull the ones that are starting to go bad.

Another rule of thumb is that larger veggies will store longer than smaller ones. Huge carrots will last a few months if properly stored. Thin carrots will last a few weeks at most. (See the photos at the bottom.)

In a perfect world we would all have root cellars to store our veggies. I do not. I will list the ideal conditions, as well as what I do in reality.

Winter Squash – Use any squash that have been nicked or have lost their stems first. Store squash in a cool, dry place with a bit of air circulation. Your basement or garage would be ideal, but don’t let them freeze in your garage. Reality: I store them in a wire basket on the bottom shelf on a table in my living room—my crawl space is too scary for food. We have squash that last until spring. (Although I almost always miss one that decides to liquefy and make a huge mess.)

Onions – Store them in a cool, dark, dry place. Exposure to light will make your onions sprout faster. I try to keep mine in a cupboard or closet. Or I at least put them in a brown paper bag (to block out the light) if I don’t have room.

Potatoes – Store them in a dark, cool, moist place. If the potatoes get too dry, they will start to shrivel; light makes the potatoes turn green and become inedible. Right now I have mine in a hemp sack on the counter.

Root Vegetables – Vegetables like carrots, turnips, beets, radishes, parsnips, rutabagas, and sunchokes all have similar storage requirements. You can pack them in a wooden box with moist sand in your mythical root cellar. Or you can put them in a sealed plastic bag (or other air-tight container) in the refrigerator. If you think you will store your root veggies for a long time, trim the tiny little roots off the bottom as well as any greens off the top of the veggies. These parts will rot faster. Once the greens start to rot, the whole root will rot. If you trim the parts that are most likely to rot, the main part of the root will last much longer. Your goal is to trim the root to look like the carrot pictured in the second photo to the right.

Small and Large Carrot

Trimmed Carrot

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