How & Where to Store your Produce

If you grow your own, then you are going to need to seriously address where you store your harvest bounty. The kitchen cupboard may cope with a bag of potatoes but it isn’t the right place to keep half a dozen sacks of potatoes.

Produce Store in Shed

Produce Store in Shed

Although a freezer is great for keeping many vegetables in good condition from harvest to when they are needed. See Freezing Food. However freezers are not really ideal or necessary for crops such as potatoes, root crops or onions, etc. Root crops in particular are ideal for storing. After all, nature designed them for this purpose!

Potato Clamp

In days of old, potatoes and some other root crops would be stored in a clamp outdoors which worked quite well for bulk storage but clamps are not the best method for storing the smaller amounts required by a small family or couple.

Storing Your Home Harvest

The comprehensive guide to storing your produce. Includes drying, freezing, bottling, clamping, jams, chutneys and much more Build your own food store

More Information & Special Offers

Clamps are also quite vulnerable to vermin, and building them properly and making them weather proof requires skill. In a wet winter they are vulnerable to flooding, which causes rot and whatever the weather seem to act as a slug magnet.

Nowadays the farmers store their produce in climate controlled facilities at the optimum temperature and humidity, safe from vermin and ready to ship to the packing station.

Best Place to Store Your Produce

The best place at home is somewhere cool and dark but not freezing. A garage is often ideal, especially one attached or integral to the house. (How often do people actually keep a car in there?) Another option is a garden shed. The only problem with sheds is that they do tend to vary in temperature. In the winters they can drop to nearly the lowest outside temperature (and you don’t want to freeze you food store) while on a sunny day the temperature will shoot right up.

It’s easy enough to insulate your shed. Polystyrene is a good insulator and you can often pick up sheets used for packaging for the price of asking from electrical goods retailers. Large and thicker sheets can be bought cheaply from builders’ merchants.

You do need some ventilation to prevent condensation building up. The closable air vent covers can be useful for this and can be picked up very cheaply from builders’ merchants. Ideally you want to keep the temperature above freezing in cold weather, so a thermostatically controlled electric heater is useful. If you keep the area where your crop is stored small (we walled off and shelved a section of our large shed to become the food store), then it isn’t expensive to run.

Another solution we had was at night to run a 60 watt light bulb in an old biscuit tin with holes punched through. It made just a very low wattage electric heater, enough to keep the frost off. However, soon you will not be able to buy old fashioned high energy light bulbs.

If you haven’t got electricity, then it gets trickier. A paraffin heater is cheap to run but produces condensation, something we definitely don’t want. You can buy thermostatic controlled tent heaters or even a camping stove turned down to the lowest, but be really careful with naked flames. You don’t want to burn down your shed and I think they might produce condensation as well.

When storing vegetables you need to sort out the damaged ones and any showing signs of rot and use these first. The phrase ‘One bad apple spoils the barrel’ is very apt. One rotten potato can spoil the sack very quickly. Potato Blight, in particular, spreads like wildfire, turning a sack into a stinking soggy mess in a couple of weeks. (See storing potatoes)

More on Harvesting & Storing Your Crops

Share Your Recipe

If you've got a recipe you'd like to share with the community please send it to us:-

Our Storing & Preserving Books