HORTICULTURE — Storing vegetables and fruit

(Photo from pxhere.com)
(Photo from pxhere.com)

By Mary Jane Frogge, Extension Associate

After a successful garden season, you may have vegetables and fruits you would like to store until you are ready to use them. Proper storage conditions are needed for fruits and vegetables that are not consumed immediately after harvest. The key to good storage is in controlling the temperature and relative humidity of the storage area. If not stored properly, they will rot and you will lose your produce.

Carrots: Trim carrot tops to one inch. Layer unwashed carrots in a container of moist sand. Carrots can be stored in a cool place, 35–40°F for 4-5 months.

Onions: Harvest onions when the tops have fallen over and begun to dry. Cure onions by spreading them in a single layer in open box and in a well-ventilated place for 1–2 weeks. Store cured onions in a dry location at 35–40°F.

Potatoes: Cure fresh dug potatoes 1–2 weeks in a dark, dry location at 50–60°F. Store cured potatoes in a dark location at 40°F for 5–6 months.

Sweet potatoes: Cure fresh dug sweet potatoes at 80–85°F for 10 days. Store cured sweet potatoes in a dry, dark location at 55–60°F for 4–6 months.

Turnips: Trim turnip tops to one inch. Layer unwashed turnips in a container of moist sand. Turnips can be stored in a cool place, 35–40°F for 4–5 months.

Winter squash: Cure vine ripen winter squash for 10 days at 80–85°F and high humidity. Store mature, cured winter squash in a dry location at 55°F for 2–6 months. Acorn squash will keep well in a dry place at 45°F for 35–40 days. Do not cure acorn squashes before storing them.

For fruits such as apples, grapes and pears, store them in cool temperatures at 32–40°F and moist conditions at 90–95 percent relative humidity. Other fruits should be canned or frozen after harvest. Select containers for storage that have smooth inner surfaces. Baskets, melon crates or boxes are suitable. Line these containers with aluminum foil to help retain moisture.

Apples and pears will likely last through the fall and winter if stored properly. Apple varieties should be harvested firm and ripe to insure the longest storage possible. Harvest pears when they are full sized but still green and hard. Pears ripen quickly at 60–65°F.

Grapes will usually keep for one or two months. Grapes should be stored alone because they pick up odors of other fruits and vegetables.