This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*
Storing vegetables throughout the winter months can pose some problems that are hard to avoid. For vegetables and fruits to stay fresh after harvest, they need ideal conditions. What makes it even more difficult is that different products require different conditions. Things such as temperature and humidity both need to be taken into account when storing produce for the cold winter months.
How do you store vegetables over winter?
There are three specific conditions that can be used to store various types of produce, and they all apply to different fruits and vegetables. For example:
- Cool and dry, between 10–15°C and with 60% humidity
- Cold and dry, between 0–4°C and with 65% humidity
- Cold and moist, between 0–4°C and with 95% humidity
Seeing as these temperature and humidity ranges vary significantly, it can be difficult to store all your fruit and vegetables in the same place and have them keep throughout the winter. Depending on where you live and what type of storage setup you have, these conditions may be difficult to maintain. Some vegetables are better than others when it comes to storing, though, and choosing the right produce can make all the difference.
What food should I store for winter?
There are some general rules to follow when storing vegetables and fruits throughout the winter. Fully mature vegetables will have a longer shelf-life during storage, so it’s best to start with those. Remove all soil and avoid storing fruits and vegetables with bruises or any signs of early rot. The storage area should be clean and dark. Once you remove the produce from storage, use it immediately.
The type of produce you should store depends on whether your storage option is dry or moist. If your storage area is dry, you can store pumpkins, onions and garlic more easily, for example. Vegetables such as cabbage can be stored in a moister storage area.
Other foods that you can store over winter include:
- Winter squash
- Winter radishes
- Sweet potatoes
- Dry beans
- Grain corn
What are the best vegetables for long-term storage?
Although you can store many fruits and vegetables for the entire winter season, some are better than others at staying healthy and edible for longer. If you want to make sure you have no spoilage or wastage, it’s important to know which vegetables fit the bill.
- Beets are a great vegetable to store, because in the right conditions they can last anywhere from four to six months.
- Sweet potatoes fall into a similar time range.
- Late cabbage and potatoes will last anywhere from five to six months for the former and five to ten months for the latter.
- Carrots are a great storage option because they can last up to nine months.
- Winter squash can keep fresh for up to six months.
Fruits with long shelf life that you can store over winter
Fruit is a trickier type of food to store over the winter because it tends to rot more quickly. It’s not impossible to store fruit, but it does require a little more care.
- Apples and pears are both great options for storage because they have a longer shelf-life than other fruits, such as berries. Apples will last in the refrigerator for up to two months. Winter-variety pears are the best option to choose if you want to store them for the winter, and if done correctly, they can last anywhere from two to three months in a low temperature.
- Tomatoes can be stored for longer if they are green when harvested. This will give them the chance to ripen slowly in your storage area. They may not keep as long as the other fruits and vegetables, but they will stay fresh for longer than most other fruits.
Tips and tricks for storing fruit and vegetables
Aside from the aforementioned temperature and humidity guidelines, there are other tips you can use to help keep your fresh produce stay fresh throughout the winter months. Some root crops, such as carrots or turnips, can stay in the ground while winter rolls in to preserve freshness, just so long as you mulch heavily and avoid leaving them in below –3°C.
Most vegetables should also be stored in a container as opposed to openly, as exposure can lead to rot; finding the proper storage containers that will maintain humidity, temperature and ventilation can go a long way. Freezing can also extend the life of stored fruits and vegetables, but bear in mind that fruits and vegetables do lose their freshness if you freeze them yourself.
Storing fruits and vegetables throughout the cold winter months can seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be when you choose the right produce with long-life spans and know the ins and outs of what the produce needs.