September 18, 2023

How to store your summer produce to make it last all winter

How to store your summer produce to make it last all winter

In this article extract, taken from the October issue of The Country Smallholder magazine, Kim Stoddart (pictured above) explains how to safely save and store some of your veg patch harvest for the colder months ahead….

As our small holding vegetable gardens are in full productive swing, there are many ways to keep some of our produce available for longer over winter. I think it’s essential however to do so in a way that works best for you, your space and also which makes the best use of the crops you have lovingly grown.

In other words, I’d advise against saving things for the sake of it, even in a cost of living crisis. As the last thing you need is guilt next summer that you haven’t got through all last year’s frozen carrots because they are decidedly watery and bland and not much fun to eat at all. Instead let’s look out how to make the best of our homegrown bounty in ways that will enable us to feel warm and nourished inside no matter the weather.

This year has been absolutely fantastic for fruit, so you are likely to have a bumper harvest. Therefore I suggest a few different options to help you to enjoy these luscious fruits for longer.

Dry storage
You don’t need a dedicated apple store as containers can be improvised out of boxes, shelves or even crates. Airflow is really important and do check the information in this article on how to choose a storage space and quality control fruit, as it is especially important for apples and pears. As different varieties of fruit ripen and store for varying lengths of time, it helps to store fruit of the same type together, e.g, a box full of Cox’s Orange Pippin, so it’s easier to check on. Store fruit on a single layer so there is nothing touching, with ample airflow in-between as this helps prevent any rot from so quickly spreading.

Pears seem to ripen almost overnight and can go over rather quickly. They will therefore need more checking than your average apple store.

Keep fruit away from onions and anything strong smelling as this can negatively impact on the flavour of your lovely harvest.

Preserves and freezing
Consider using some of your apple harvest in the making of chutneys, pickles and preserves. They do make a fantastic ingredient and can also be added to jam mixes most successfully.

Additionally as any apples start to turn, consider also cooking some for pureed freezer batches as these afford you with some handy pie and crumble ingredients close to hand.

Main crop potato harvests can be successfully stored away till the following spring if kept in a dry, frost free, dark space. It is best to brush off earth and ensure they are fully dry before either storing in hessian sacks or trays. Do check every few weeks that there are no rotters as they can otherwise spoil your harvest.

Bulbs need to be dried for a few weeks until they form papery skins before storing away. A popular option is the creation of an onion string, which enables your harvest to be displayed attractively as it is stored in a cooler spot in the home. Alternatively, a net bag can be used to host your onions all the while allowing the all important air flow to help bulbs store that bit longer.

This article extract was taken from the October 2023 edition of The Country Smallholder. To read the article in full, with more information about storing root vegetables, pumpkins and squashes, as well as further tips on dry storage, you can buy the issue here.

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by The Country Smallholder

The Country Smallholder is aimed at the ever-increasing UK audience interested in living a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable way of life. From people already living on a smallholding, to allotment owners; from those with a couple of acres of land, to those aspiring to get more out of their garden or even window box. With 73% of UK residents claiming to want to live more sustainably post Covid, The Country Smallholder has something for everyone.

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