Think storage BEFORE you start planting!

By Katherine MacBean

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Learning how to effectively store your home-grown produce is key in becoming more self-sufficient.

Whether you have a small space or a large plot, you will be able to rotate your produce and grow throughout the year, but if you have good yields, you may not need to consume your produce all at once, you may want to make it last for months.

As we move towards a more seasonal based diet, and stop eating imported food at all times of year, it is great to have some summer-grown produce still healthy and ready to go as you move into autumn and winter. But it doesn’t matter how much you grow, if you don’t know how to keep it fresh and stored well.

Here are some general guidelines for storing your own produce.

  1. Harvest produce for storage in its peak condition. (Some root veg does well left in the ground until first frost).
  2. Handle produce very carefully – bruised produce will not last long and could risk affecting other produce if rot sets in! Also, ensure produce is dry before storing!
  3. If you want to specifically grow your produce to be stored, take some time to look at different varieties available – some store better than others. Always search out heirloom seeds too!
  4. Always keep your produce away, during storage, from harsh chemicals and strong smells! This odour can have an impact on the quality of your produce. Pick cold, dark, dry storage areas at all possible times.
  5. Check your produce regularly!! Weekly ideally! Remove any rotting produce as this rot is at risk of spreading and you could lose an entire crop if not careful.
  6. Consider space, containers, packaging and accessibility! Different produce lasts better in different storage ‘containers’. For example, carrots do very well in wooden crates, bedded in sand, whereas potatoes manage well in hessian sacks. Do some research and find what works best for your space and pocket.
  7. Whether you freeze, enjoy canning, hang, dry store, clamp or bottle, ensure in advance that you have the necessary containers and equipment. It’s rather tedious to get everything prepped to then find you don’t have something you need!
  8. Don’t forget that gluts of produce can often be turned into pickles, chutneys, jams and other delicious jarred delights! Or you could try fermenting!

As we build the new, we can adopt the traditional. PFFA will help throughout the year, with ideas on how to store specific items, but until then, get thinking and planning and then get growing. It’s going to be fun!

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