July 22, 2011

Tip of the day—Part 1 Food Preservation Series

In the next couple of days, I’ll be sharing some thoughts and tips on different forms of food preservation.  Since I recently was the guest speaker at the Weston A Price Foundation on this subject, I thought I’d share with you some of the resources and information I passed on to them.  I hope you find it helpful.

Today we’ll be talking about dry storage:

Dry Storage. This includes anything stored in the pantry or on the shelf. Also includes root cellaring, trenching, and clamping. This time of the year—just about anything
Pros

  • Simple and easy.

Cons

  • Temperature fluctuations, moisture, and pests can ruin your food stores.

Tips for Dry Storage:

  • Carrots and turnips do great stored in sand. Use a 5 gallon bucket to make it easier.
  • Let winter squash cure outside for 1-2 days after cutting from the vine before bringing inside. Dust off, but don’t wipe the skin. This will remove the outer layer and can lead to spoilage.
  • Rubbing mineral oil on eggs will help to extend storage. Eggs can be stored at room temp.
  • Keep apples away from other foods. Keep potatoes and onions away from one another and store each in a dark place.
  • Use a cooler in your garage to store foods in the winter, and vent it slightly. The cooler will insulate the food and keep it from freezing.
  • Air circulation and even temperature is important in reducing spoilage. Check your stores often—one bad apple can spoil a barrel pretty quickly.
  • Use the “first in, first out” and “store what you eat and eat what you store” mantras to help you reduce waste.
  • The laziest of food storage is to leave the food in the garden until you are ready for it. Onions are a great example of this—leave them until you are ready to use them.
  • Wrap green tomatoes in newspaper and store in a paper bag in a dark, cool, dry place. When ready to use them, take out and set them in a sunny spot to ripen.
  • When considering root cellaring, look at humidity (ideally around 90-95%) and temp (ideally around 35-40 degrees). Make sure that the cellar is dark and has good air circulation. Avoid use of flooring or concrete—the cool earth helps to hold the temp and humidity at proper levels for the food. Alternatives to root cellars are clamps, small earthen mounds for food storage. To learn more search “root cellaring” at www.motherearthnews.com or read Mike and Nancy Bubel’s book on the subject --Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables by Mike and Nancy Bubel, 1990

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