How Long Will It Last? (Cold Storage Edition)

by Merissa on October 19, 2012

in Canning and Preserving, Featured, Simple Living

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I've been busy lately putting up fresh produce for our winter stockpile. Many winters I get to January and crave for a fresh apple without having to pay full grocery store out-of-season price. That’s where cold storage comes in. We can stock up on bulk and cheap in-season and end-of-season produce and store it where we will be able to enjoy it for many months to come. In my last article on cold storage I just gave you a frugal idea for cold storage. I plan to experiment more with it here soon. In this article I’m going to be talking about various produce and how long it will last in your cold storage, how it’s best to keep it, and what varieties you should look for to last the longest.

Apples

Apples will last from 2 to 7 months in cold storage depending on what variety you choose. It’s best if apples are individually wrapped in newspaper, although you can also just store in a cardboard box or wooden crate. Tart apples will keep longer and better than sweet varieties so look for Fuiji, Pink Lady, Cameo, or Honey Crisp.

Pears

Pears will last 2 to 3 months if properly stored. Wrap individual pears in newspaper and ensure they stay stored around 30 degrees. Look for Bosc and D’Anjou.

Potatoes

Potatoes will last for 4 to 6 months. They shouldn’t be stored near apples or any other ethylene-releasing produce. Look for Kennebec or Yukon gold.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes should be stored similar to potatoes and will last 4 to 6 months when stored properly. Look for Centennial and Jewell varieties.

Onions

Onions should be dry on the outside before they are stored. They will last for 5 to 8 months. You can wrap these with newspaper or use the Pantyhose Onion Storage method. Onions should be stored in a very dry environment and should be allowed to breath in what they are stored in (no plastic). Look for Stuttgarter, Brunswick, Yellow Glove, or Red Burgandy. (No sweet varieties.)

Pumpkins

Pumpkins will last for 5 to 6 months when stored with a small portion or their stem still on. Winter Luxury is a good variety to look for.

Squash

Squash will last for 4 to 6 months. Look for Delicata, Hubbard, and Butternut.

These are just basic winter storage produce varieties but if you are new to cold storage, these are a good place to start. Once you get the hang of it and get a great system set up you can also learn to store other produce such as radishes, rutabagas, turnips, and more.

What are you storing this winter? What has been your biggest cold storage challenge in the past?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 RevAllyson October 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

Oh my gosh, memories of the Great Squash Failure of ’09. LOL… We had a huge garden, almost an acre, and it *produced*. I had tons of squash, and while we dried and canned (and ate) the summer ones, the winter ones I was saving for long storage. I carefully chose only the best ones, cleaned them, allowed them to dry, then coated them in wax to keep out bugs and such. What I didn’t know was that you have to cure them or they just… well, let’s say the results were really squishy. And smelly. And left a stain on the floor of the root cellar that might still be there, for all I know. *grin*

We’re tomato people, so we have a lot of tomatoes canned and dehydrated. I’m not storing any beets or parsnips though, because I’m trying to grow them in a winter garden. The beets were started in September and are doing great. The parsnips, carrots and kale were started two weeks ago, in the same raised tire bed as the beets, and they’ve all poked up their little green heads. They’ll be covered in plastic soon, though this week the night temps are all 40F+ so I don’t need to. :)

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2 Analisa October 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I just saw a thing on pinterest that said to put an apple in your bag of potatoes to keep them fresh longer and then you say to keep them away from apples lol I think I believe you because I’m guessing it is based on experience??

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3 Merissa October 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Apples let off a special gas that causes certain produce to ripen faster so if they are kept with potatoes they will make them go bad faster.

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4 Tabitha October 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Talk about eye opening. I had no idea foods could keep that long. Now I’m just trying to figure out how to do that in Texas. We don’t have a historic home with a built in root cellar. Hmmm. I can see how this would save money. Wow.

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5 annie @ montanasolarcreations October 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm

After your last post about a cold storage space, I’ve been thinking more about what I can do to keep cold storage here without freezing. I currently just have a box of onions and squash in our garage where it will not freeze. I’ve been checking on it regularly since I wasn’t quite sure how long it would last so this post was really helpful and I pinned it :)

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6 RG October 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm

how do you store rutabega? Someone just gave us a few. Would you recommend keeping a thermometer in an entry that is warmer than outside, but quite cold compared to inside? And are apples or squash, potatoes and such ruined if they freeze? Our winters get really cold up here, but I am trying to figure out this cold storage thing. Thanks for any help you can give.

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7 Merissa October 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm

You are safe until you get below 30 degrees. Then you might be in danger of rotting produce. Yes, I would recommend keeping a thermometer in your cold storage area.
And rutabagas you might want to store separately. Their optimum storage area is in sand in a moist area (some people might use a humidfier in their storage area for these).

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8 Amanda Klenner-Labrow October 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Ohh adding this to my reading list now. thanks!

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9 Notjustgreenfingers October 23, 2012 at 12:40 am

I’ve just stumbled across your blog and this article is really interesting. I too store my produce over winter (I have four allotments).Our produce doesn’t quite last six months as we eat it before then lol

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10 Janette Wischerath February 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Your ideas, postings, recipies, and clear presentation is so refreshing and really speaks to my “simpler” side. Thank you! Many blessings! Janette

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11 Charity Scott January 3, 2014 at 9:16 pm

We had a friend who grew potatoes and sweet potatoes. We bought like 50 lbs of each and stored them for a long while in our pantry, cool dry place. He said because we didn’t wash them they store for up to a yr like that. Of course we ate ours faster than that. ;)

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