Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tips for storing bounty of summer's harvest


Not lucky enough to have a root cellar? Here are some tips and tools to help you properly store summer's harvest or just keep your farmers' market purchases fresher longer.


- Deb Wandell; dwandell@sfchronicle.com



Storage tips

-- Because decay will accelerate and spread once a crop is in storage, keep only perfect specimens. Provide good air circulation and a dry, dark environment, particularly for potatoes, which will turn green if exposed for a long time to light. Green potatoes form compounds that are potentially toxic.


-- If cold weather arrives before your entire tomato crop has ripened, harvest firm, green, unblemished fruit and wrap each tomato individually in newspaper. Store between 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and check weekly to monitor ripening.


-- Free up refrigerator space by cleaning out crisper drawers and devoting them to carrots and beets. Use scissors to cut off most of the greens (except for about 1/2 inch on top so as not to cut into the root), and leave the dirt until you're ready to cook. Store crops separately in loosely closed plastic bags, then clean thoroughly just before use.


-- Freezing is a fast and easy way to save vegetables, fruit and herbs for later use. Buy the best-quality freezer bags you can find, remove as much air as possible from the bag and label all bags with date and contents. For herbs: Chop to size (for parsley and cilantro) and fill a freezer bag or puree (for basil) with olive oil. Freeze berries whole or in syrup. Vegetables must be blanched before freezing to slow down the enzymes that cause decay.
Source: Gardensupply.com

Store your keeper crops on a pine Orchard Rack ($139.95). Six slatted slide-out shelves hold apples, winter squash, onions and potatoes. www.gardeners.com.


These rustic wicker Potato and Onion Storage Baskets include grass handles and a side pocket for easy access to stored vegetables. The large basket (holds up to 30 pounds of potatoes, the small about 6 pounds of onions ($49.95 for a set of two). www,bedbathandbeyond.com; www,gardeners.com.


For herbs, flowers and garlic, try a vintage-inspired drying rack ($19.95). www.gardeners.com. Once they're dried, store herbs in amounts small enough to ensure they'll be used before they fade.


Monterey Bay Spice Co.'s 18/8 stainless steel containers ($4) have a twist-and-shake top and magnetic bottoms that stick to most metal surfaces. Use them to keep herbs and herb blends fresh. www.herbco.com.

This article appeared on page M - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle


Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/09/30/HOPN1L8P65.DTL#ixzz1ZfKqvlMK

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