Good Question: How To Store Vegetables Outside?

Here's a good question from reader Dimara, who is trying to store vegetables for the winter. She asks:

There's been a lot of discussion lately on urban root cellars and even building your own if you have a yard. We don’t have access to a yard or root cellar and are running into a storage issue with our 5 cubic foot refrigerator vs. 20 pounds of produce we get from our CSA’s winter share once a month.

Read on for Dimara's storage solution for all her vegetables, and her question too. I resorted to storing my produce on the fire escape in a large, hard plastic container with a lid and towel inside for insulation. Other than potentially causing a fire hazard, is this okay? How long will my produce last this way?

Right now I have 5 heads of green cabbage, 3 heads of red cabbage 4 kohlrabi, 2 acorn squash and 10lbs of daikon radishes. The weather has been pretty cold in NY and I check them every day. Any tips or info would be great!

Dimara, this is great you're trying to store your CSA veggies! We are just learning about all of this too, as we attempt to store a box of squash and potatoes harvested in the fall. Here are our main thoughts.

• You don't want your vegetables to freeze. Most vegetables and fruit won't do well when frozen; their cell walls will collapse when thawed and turn to mush. If it is freezing outside, bring your vegetables inside.

• Apples store best around 30°, and we imagine that many vegetables are the same. You want to keep everything as cold as possible without freezing.

• If it is freezing outside, we suggest a cold hallway, a non-insulated closet, or a basement, if you have access to one.

We use our side entryway, which always stays very cold because the door lets in drafts! It's at least 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house. It probably doesn't get below 50, but our squash and potatoes have stayed pretty fresh. We're planning on eating our way through them before another month goes by anyway.

Any more tips for Dimara??

More on storing vegetables and fruit for the winter:
Quick Tip: The Best Way to Store Potatoes
How To Store Apples for the Winter
The Return of the Root Cellar in the New York Times
Gumdrop Coffee Jars and a DIY Root Cellar

(Image: Flickr member Unhindered by Talent licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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