cold holding

Cold Storing Carrots

colorful carrot harvest

colorful crispy carrots

Carrots are such a wonderful crop to grow in part because there are so many ways to store them.

sand helps hold the moisture

sand helps hold the moisture

They can be blanched and dehydrated or frozen, left in the ground up until it freezes, held in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or kept in cold storage well into the winter.

lay the carrots on the sand

lay the carrots on the sand

This is our first time with the cold holding closet, but it has already been a few weeks and the carrots are still as firm as when they were picked.

Simply trim to tops to 2″ and brush off any dirt.
Lay the carrots on a bed of sand, cover with more sand, and continue until the tub is full.
Mist the sand with water every now and then.

just layer the carrots

layer the carrots and sand

I used a plastic dish basin, my friend Beth told me her Dad used to use a kiddie pool.

top them off with more sand

top them off with more sand

Keep them cool but not frozen.
I had been storing my squash in the closet, in September it was the perfect temperature for it.

cool the area to about 32-36 degrees Farenheit

a little too warm yet

But now it’s time to take the squash out, put the cooler-loving crops in, and open the outside vents to bring the temperature down.

cold holding veggies

carrots in squash out

I admit I am curious to see how long we can keep the carrots this way- come time, I’ll let you know.

How we built out cold storage closet.

More on storing carrots can be found here:
The Carrot Museum

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Categories: cold holding, How to Store

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Storing Rutabagas

I often get the impression that a lot of what you find on the internet is just information that one person is copying from another, rewording, and passing it on.

I seriously wonder if some of them have ever grown a vegetable at all.

rutabagas in the garden

really growing rutabagas

I prefer to tell you what I’ve done and what I’m doing, and to rely on the cooperative extension offices for more information.
After all, they do actually grow veggies and study about them.

This is what I know about holding Rutabagas.

They like it cool and humid.
A Root Cellar is perfect for them, but in a pinch your refrigerator will do.

a big rutabaga

rutabaga just after harvest

Wait to harvest as long into the fall as possible but definitely before the ground freezes.
I know, I didn’t do that with some of mine…but I wanted to test the holding method for myself, and our frost is late this year.

Let the dirt dry and brush it off, or wash lightly and let air dry.
Trim to about an inch or so of the top, and trim some of the longer roots.
Store in a cool (32 degrees F.) humid place, like your veggie drawer in the fridge.

In the right conditions they should last a few months.

rutabagas from the home garden

5 weeks later

You can see the large rutabaga above here has shriveled some.
It was in our cold holding closet- it just wasn’t all that cold in there.
We had some very unseasonably warm weather, it was pretty much at room temperature.
Still, after a over month it is fine, even under those not perfect conditions.

I’ve moved it and a few others I pulled to the fridge until we get some cooler temps next week.

rutabagas from the home garden

the motley crew

A lot of sites say you should wax your rutabagas for longer storage, I was hesitant about that.
I know commercial growers will wax them, so they look better (and with less shriveling weigh more) at the grocery stores.
The Wisconsin Cooperative Extension says not to wax, and I’m sticking with them.

Here’s some more info on growing and holding rutabagas and other crops:

How to Grow Rutabagas.
The Wisconsin Cooperative Extension’s great piece on storing veggies and directions to make a basement root cellar.

Categories: cold holding

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The Green Closet

my green closet

green or white?

I’ve always thought it would be ‘cool’ to have a root cellar- or some similar kind of cold holding.

Imagine being able to eat fresh homegrown veggies farther into the winter, instead of frozen, canned and dehydrated.

I’ve seen wonderful areas built in basements; my FB friend The Farmer’s Garden told me recently she uses an area in a room over an unheated garage.
I have heard stories of people using old out buildings, even read about one that semi-buried an old truck and used that.
I don’t have a basement or a garage, nor any old vehicles or unused buildings.
So I had pretty much given up.

Until one morning as I was getting ready for work, standing in our laundry/utility room getting some socks out of the dryer.
My feet were freezing from the cold floor, and an idea hit me.
You see, our laundry room is situated over a crawl space; and although there was insulation underneath at one point, the local field mice have long since removed it and used it for their own homes.
The floor gets very cold.
Perfect.

The project began with a few obstacles to figure out-
We do plan on reinsulating under the floor, so I needed an alternative way to cool the closet.
Likewise we heat the room somewhat, so I needed to keep the cold in and not let the closet get warm.
And, we need to keep the aforementioned mice out.

air vent installation

Mandolin installing the air vent

So what we did is build a basic closet, but with a vent going to the outside that can be opened and closed manually and is covered in a fine mesh metal screening. The inside is well insulated.

The project seemed to stall at one point, at a place where Mandolin needed to take the next step.
Then I got another good idea- I went out and bought a case of beer and put it in the closet.
When he saw (tasted) how nice and cold it was, he was encouraged to finish the job.

If you’re wondering why I call this a ‘green’ closet, when obviously it is white, I’m referring to the energy this will save.
This will use no power and yet keep our food cold. Plus, we won’t be opening the fridge every time we want an onion or some garlic.

simple shelving

shelves ready and waiting

I’ve been monitoring the temperatures and playing with the vent and it looks like this will work well.

I can just picture it this coming fall, filled with baskets and tubs of veggies, garlic and herbs hanging down…
and in there somewhere I know…
…will be a case of cold beer.

Because of the ‘green’ nature of this project, I have listed it in the Gardener’s Sustainable Living Project 2011.
Check it out to find some great ways gardeners are going green, and leave a comment for a chance to win some fabulous gifts.

Veggies and Cold Holding
The Farmer’s Garden

Categories: cold holding, garden projects

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