The coolest methods for storing produce in cold storage

Aside from saving space in the refrigerator, putting fresh food in cold storage helps guarantee a healthy diet and acts as a backup in case anything prevents you from buying fresh food at the supermarket.

The coolest methods for storing produce in cold storage

A cellar or cool pantry was once the only place to store produce to eat later during the cold winter months. Nowadays it's still worthwhile buying fresh, seasonal fruit and veg when plentiful and inexpensive. And some of yesterday's cold storage methods still work best.

The best conditions

For storing supplies, all you need is a cool, well-ventilated basement storage room or a frost-free garage. The optimal ambient temperature is 4 to 5°C with humidity of 80 to 90 per cent.

  • Place one or more buckets filled with water in your cellar, if it isn't damp enough.
  • Leave a box of damp sand in cement spaces that are dry and warm.
  • Before storing supplies, wash your shelves with baking soda and water or vinegar to keep mold from spreading.
  • Store only undamaged fruits and vegetables. When you're stocking up on Chinese cabbage, endive, white and red cabbage, as well as savoy, be sure to remove all rotting leaves and any that appear unhealthy in order to avoid illness.
  • Check fruits and vegetables regularly during storage. Immediately remove spoiled items, and clean the storage space if needed.

Storing fruit in the cellar

With the exception of apples, pears and grapes, fruits are not suited for long winter storage in the cellar because they suffer cold damage starting at 10°C. Storing fruit in the same area as fermenting liquor or pickles in a barrel will also damage the fruit.

  • Place apples individually with stems up on wooden shelves, or wrap them individually with tissue paper and store in wooden boxes. Make sure the fruit doesn't touch and that there are no rotten ones; one bad apple really will spoil the whole bunch. Apples should last for about six months or so after the harvest depending on the variety.
  • Treat pears the same way. Store them while they are still firm. As soon as they yield to slight thumb pressure on the stem end or begin to change colour, move them to a warmer place; they will reach their full ripeness in a couple of days.
  • You can keep grapes for a fairly long time as long as they can hang freely. First pluck out the rotten grapes and close the cut surface on the stem airtight with candle or sealing wax.
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