Storing your crops
Berries – Place raspberries and strawberries in a brown paper bag and store on a lower the shelf in the fridge (where it’s not as cold as the top shelves). Since water speeds spoilage, don’t wash berries until you’re ready to eat them. Tomatillos and husk cherries can be stored this way, too.
Flowers – When you get your flowers home, give the stems a fresh cut and put them in a vase of cool water as soon as possible. To keep the water fresh and clear, remove leaves that fall below the water line and change the water every other day.
Greens and herbs – Greens like kale, lettuce, and chard should be patted dry and placed in plastic bags in the crisper drawer. Herbs can be stored this way as well. If you have the space in your fridge, herbs will stay fresh longer when treated like flowers; simply put stem or root ends in a glass of water and store them on a shelf away from the cold air vent in the fridge.
Other produce – Cukes, zukes, peppers, new potatoes, and eggplant can be stored for a few days outside of the fridge. Since fruits and veggies are sensitive to chilling and prefer temperatures of 45-50 degrees, they’re ok in the fridge for about a week. Wipe off excess moisture or dirt and place them in clean plastic bags (don’t fully close them).
Root crops – Roots vegetables tend to prefer cool temperatures and high humidity; store in partially opened plastic bags in the fridge for several weeks. Potatoes are more tolerant of drier and warmer conditions, and could be stored in the fridge or with your winter squash.
Tomatoes & Cantaloupe – These are best stored on the countertop or in an open-weave basket instead of in the fridge. Refrigerating tomatoes degrades their cellular structure, which affects both texture and taste. Cantaloupe shouldn’t be chilled until it’s fully ripened, and then only when necessary to prevent spoilage.
Winter squash, garlic, & onions – These prefer dry condition and should be stored unwrapped in a cooler, dry place with good ventilation.
Preserving produce for winter
Canning, freezing, and drying are excellent ways to enjoy local, organic produce long into the winter months. If you’re not sure how to go about doing it, ask an elder or friend to show you. There are also many classes and workshops offered through area farms and co-ops, and other resources can be found online. Here are a few we recommend:
Step-by-step canning directions: www.doityourself.com/stry/gettingcanned
How to can just about anything, pick-your-own farms in the area, updates about what’s in season, recipes: www.pickyourown.org/allaboutcanning.htm
General info about canning, freezing, drying: www.preservefood.com/canning.shtml
Overview of different freezing methods from Cooks Illustrated: www.cooksillustrated.com/images/document/howto/JA07_IlloSpread-FreezingProduce.pdf (PDF)
Drying directions from the University of Colorado Cooperative Extension: www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09308.html