Storing your harvest away for the season may not be quite as simple as a squirrel cashing nuts, but it’ll be easier to find.
Whether you are growing your first (pandemic) garden or simply carrying on as a farmer, urban or otherwise, knowing how to preserve the bounty is crucial. Fall is also the time for bulk buying dried fruit and nuts, as well as deep pantry shopping for the coming months. Even without a designated root cellar or deep freeze, there are plenty of tried and true practices to help food keep for the long haul.
Most herbs can simply air dry indoors and be enjoyed all winter long. Savory rosemary, culinary sage and thyme will bring life to winter squash soup, potatoes and more. Lemon balm, catnip, and the rest of the mint family can also be air dried quickly and stored for teatime later.
Dried herbs and fruit benefit from having a moisture-wicking gel pack added into their storage container. Next time you receive one of these little gems in your packaged goods, set it aside for such uses.
What about roots, like carrots and beets? Some advocate for keeping them in the ground. Bringing them inside adds to convenient access, though, and usually less risk of losing your crop.
Extend the life of your carrots and beets by removing the green tops, dusting off soil, keeping any damaged ones aside, and then layering them in a bin in slightly moist sand. Placing the bin somewhere very cool, but not freezing can keep these vitamin packs fresh all winter. Potato life can be extended by storing in layers of sand as well, though best to cure them for two weeks to thicken skins first.
Squash benefits from being cured in warm and dry conditions for about 10 days. The sun is ideal but an indoor cure in these conditions can also work. Keeping the stem and wiping the surface with vinegar helps them keep.
Nuts and flour can go rancid, so freezing them in an airtight container is best. In these conditions, they can stay fresh for as long as a year.
Enjoy squirreling away your bounty.
Let’s Talk Trash is qathet Regional District’s waste-reduction education program. For more information, email info@LetsTalkTrash.ca or go to LetsTalkTrash.ca.