November 2, 2011

How To: Use the Bounty of Fall in Your Home (Storing Apples and Other Produce)

Posted by Kristin

Featured on Mass Appeal

This time of year many of us are cleaning up our yards and pulling in the final fruits (or veggies) of our hard labor in our gardens. Along with that, apple picking in the fall is a annual tradition for many, which may leave you with bushels of apples waiting to be baked into pies, canned into apple sauce or just eaten, fresh and crisp just as they are. If you fall into the category of being overwhelmed by the amount of apples or other produce you have, fear not- advice on long term storage for fruits and vegetables is here.

Besides apples- onions, carrots, potatoes and squash all store well over the winter months.

There are a few basic things to know about long term storage of fruits and vegetables. The top factors include temperature and moisture, ventilation, how the produce is prepped for storage, and how its stored.

Temperature and Moisture: Some fruits and vegetables like a cool, dry environment, while others like a cool, moist environment. The most crucial factor here is that you want to select a space that has consistent temperatures and avoid a spot that has large fluctuations in temperature.  For example, apples like a cool, dry environment, so a covered entry way or unheated room would work well. Carrots like a cool, moist environment, so unheated basements, which tend to be damp, would work well.

Ventilation: Good ventilation means good storage, so make sure everything can breathe! Also, its important to sort out any rotten produce from the rest so that it doesn't start to rot the surrounding fruits or vegetables. It really is true that one bad apple spoils the whole barrel so beware!

Prepping For Storage: This step is dependent on what your storing. Apples need to be clean and dry. Carrots should have their tops cut off but left 'dirty' if pulled straight from the garden, since washing them could trap moisture. The carrots in the picture above haven't been washed but despite that, they are perfectly ready for storage. Onions, potatoes, and squash should also be gently wiped free of large dirt chunks but left pretty much as they are.

Storage techniques: How you store vegetables or fruits varies depending on what you're dealing with. Carrots store best in damp sand or sawdust in wooden crates or plastic bins. Onions and squash can be hung to dry in a cool, dark, dry place. Potatoes appreciate moderately cool, dry, dark storage conditions and can be stored in wooden crates, mesh bags or anything that breathes well. And now for apples. We've got a little show and tell for this one.

Storing Apples:
Start off with a well ventilated storage container, such as a cardboard box, wooden crate, plastic bin or a basket, like I used below. Grab some newspaper and sort out your apples, separating big from small. Big apples will ripen faster than small ones so you'll want to eat them first.   Also sort out any apples that are bruised or cut and leave them out to use right away. Remember- one bad apple spoils the whole barrel.

Common household items are all that's needed to store apples.

Grab an apple and a piece of newspaper and gently wrap the apple up. You can leave the top exposed a bit so you know what size is what.

Wrap those apples up tight to keep them snug for winter.

Repeat this step for all the apples until your storage container is full.

Stack them side by side until the container is full.

Now store your apples in a cool, dry place that will stay above freezing. Apples should also be stored away from other fruits and vegetables. Apples naturally give off ethylene gas which can cause other produce to ripen faster and can also give them an off taste.  So let apples be loners and hang out by themselves.

Now grab those onions, apples, squash or other bounties of fall and start storing!

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