Storing root crops, cabbages & cauliflowers, marrows & squash

This article covers storing root crops other than potatoes, ball head cabbages and cauliflower and marrows, pumpkins and squashes.

Storing Root Crops

Carrots Stored In Sand

Carrots Stored In Sand

You can store root crops, including carrots, parsnips, scorzonera and beetroot in the following way.

Remove foliage close to the crown. Place in layers in boxes, crates, etc, separated with slightly damp, but not wet, packing material.

You can use sand, coir or even leafmould but probably the best is peat.

Use of peat is frowned open nowadays although for this purpose, storing root crops, it can be re-used a number of times. Sand is perfectly adequate though and traditionally it was always sand that was used.

The ideal temperature for your root crops is between 0 and 4° Celsius, lower than potatoes but it isn’t that critical. Since you probably don’t have a refrigerated warehouse storage facility, like me you will just have to settle for the coolest place you have.

With parsnips, you can just leave them in the ground through the winter, digging up as required. In fact parsnips taste better when they’ve had a few frosts so don’t be in too much of a hurry to harvest them. They do want to be up before spring arrives though as they’ll start to re-grow and produce seed heads, ruining them as a crop.

Storing Marrows, Squashes & Pumpkins

All of these will store well. We’ve had butternut squash keep for six months, although that was unusual. Once again you want somewhere cool and dark with good ventilation and not too humid. Slatted shelves are ideal as they allow the air to get around them. Don’t overcrowd or you encourage still air and rots.

Ripened Pumpkins

Ripened Pumpkins

Another method is individual nets supported from the ceiling. Once again this allows good airflow around fruit stopping mould.

The trick for long storage is to not cut off the stem too near the fruit. Often people cut the stem tightly and rot gets in that way.

Allowing them time to ripen properly and harden off in the autumn sunshine before bringing them into store for the winter makes a huge difference to their storage life.

Storing Cabbages

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The ball head (drumhead) cabbages can be stored like your squashes for a month or even two. With cabbages there is always the problem of little slugs hiding inside. Take the outer leaves off to a clean tight centre and most should be dealt with. Rubbing a little salt on the outside helps as well by stopping any getting in and killing any who surface.

Few families are large enough nowadays to get through a cabbage in one or even two meals. Once cut, your cabbage will not keep well but, if you wrap it tightly with clingfilm and put it into the fridge in the vegetable section, you can have perfectly edible fresh cabbage for up to a month after cutting.

Storing Cauliflowers

Don’t cut the cauliflower when harvesting. Loosen the roots with a fork and pull up using the stem. Leave any soil clinging to the root ball. Do not remove any leaves.

Hang the cauliflower upside down, a piece of string tied round the stem and attached to a hook is easiest. The leaves will droop quickly but the curds will remain in good condition for a month or two.

When brought in to the kitchen, treat just like the cabbage above.

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