Ask a Question forum: Storing root vegetables

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loves9ln
Sep 1, 2015 9:00 AM CST
What is the best way to store carrots and potatoes from the home garden for the winter?
Name: Kim
Iowa (Zone 5a)
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Chillybean
Sep 1, 2015 9:50 AM CST
Welcome to All Things Plants. :)

Carrots I am not familiar with, but we've been storing potatoes. We do not have the exact right conditions, since we do not have a root cellar. But we can get through much of the harvest. We put the potatoes in burlap or mesh bags and store them in the basement. The temperature ranges about 50 degrees. If we have the space, we put them in a cabinet, since light is not good for them. Someone gave me a box of small green potatoes for planting and they did fine in the cardboard box in our mudroom, which can dip into the 20's during the coldest days in the winter.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Sep 1, 2015 10:27 AM CST
Welcome to All Things Plants, @loves9ln !

The best way to store them is no doubt in a root cellar -- but unfortunately most of us don't have one of those...

I store potatoes in our unheated but attached garage, which generally stays slightly above freezing even in the winter here, unless we get prolonged periods of sub-zero temps; then I have to lug them into our "shop," which stays around 50F under those conditions. For carrots, the only way I've been really successful with storing them is to clean them up after digging, then spread them out so they aren't wet, then pack them into ziplock bags and store in my crisper drawer. Obviously, that space is pretty limited so I don't store a great quantity of carrots! Canning them, of course, is another option.
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Sep 1, 2015 8:09 PM CST
While this does not exactly answer your question it might be useful.

I once had an abundance of carrots and had no place to store them as fresh carrots. I don't like carrot coins after they have been frozen (personal preference) but I do use carrots in soups, stews and baked goods, so I opted to wash, shred and freeze the entire batch.
After shredding and blanching, I cooled the carrots in an ice water bath, drained them, pressing out excess water with clean kitchen towels (I like the flour sack towels for this). Then measured 1/2 cup and 1 cup and packed flat (parchment/wax/freezer paper between flats; several flats to each freezer bag).

This is not something I would have taken photos of while I was doing it.. but the magic of the internet steps in and my system looks almost exactly like this.
http://www.gettystewart.com/how-to-freeze-shredded-carrots/

Packed flat, the shredded carrots take up less room in the freezer. Since each batch is pre-measured it was easy to pop one or two flats into soup or stew. For baked goods it was necessary to thaw before using.

Hope this helps.
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loves9ln
Sep 1, 2015 8:22 PM CST
Great idea, thanks!
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
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RoseBlush1
Sep 2, 2015 1:36 PM CST
Great site reference @Greene
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Sep 3, 2015 8:48 AM CST
Years ago we would pack carrots in dry sand in the basement for winter use, we would just dig them out of the sand and we had fresh carrots all winter. Potatoes we stored in gunny sacks in the basement too. Some would be a bit shriveled by spring as they lost some water during storage, but we still used them.
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Sep 3, 2015 11:53 AM CST
I agree Ditto on the sand for carrots. I remember my old landlady used the sand for carrots. Each carrot would not be touching another carrot. For some reason I thought the sand might have been damp-ish but that might just have been the normal environment for her root cellar.

Naturally I didn't have a camera with me as I was learning from my landlady but I can remember that there were wooden shelves attached to one wall. On the shelves wooden boxes, this being before plastic become popular/available/affordable.

Once again I will rely on the magic of the internet to show you what my mind's eye can see as I stood in the dark basement with my landlady. Here you go...damp sand, carrots not touching; close enough:
http://newlifeonahomestead.com/root-cellaring-carrots-crawl-...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Sep 3, 2015 12:55 PM CST
I know it must work, because I've seen using sand to bury the carrots in recommended so many times, but I've never had success with it at all; my carrots always sprouted a bunch of little white roots, to the point of being pretty much a solid mass of little white roots. That said, though -- I don't have an actual basement, my choices are pretty much the garage (which gets too cold in the winter) and the crawl space (which I think is way too moist).

One important point, no matter how they are stored, is that the tops must be cut off; they suck the life out of the carrots in short order.
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
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