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Have you ever looked around after your garden harvest and felt overwhelmed by all the produce? You CAN store fruits and vegetables from the garden and make them last! There are so many ways to put up your excess garden produce too!
Just follow some of these tips for how to store fruits and vegetables from the garden and get the most out of your garden produce.
How to store and preserve garden vegetables
Have you ever taken the time to find out how each type of food is optimally stored or do you just do what Mom used to do? You can extend the life of your fruits and veggies exponentially if you store them properly and you will be able to save more of it for use later.
USDA and DHS do not allow childcare providers to serve home canned food to children, so canning will not be covered here, but there are so many other ways you can store fruits and vegetables from the garden, and if you know how to safely can, have at it, there will be one more for you!
First of all, let’s talk about all of the amazing produce that stores perfectly well at room temperature for months and months.
Garlic: Once the garlic is cured for a week or two in a well-ventilated, warm area, it can be placed in baskets, braided and hung on the wall, or placed in pantyhose and tied to separate each clove with a knot until next year’s harvest. This works best with soft neck garlic. Hard neck garlic is not for storage.
Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes need to be kept dry, and cured in a 90-degree, well-ventilated area for two weeks. Then they can be placed in boxes or baskets that are also well ventilated and stored for months.
Winter squash: Winter squash can be stored at room temperature for several months with no special treatment.
Make sure when you are storing food at room temperature, you check it for bad spots because if a piece of food rots, it may cause the food around it to rot.
Potatoes: White potatoes can be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place for several weeks until eaten.
Shorter life produce that stores at room temperature
Apples and pears can sit in a bowl in your kitchen at room temperature for several weeks. So can citrus fruits and onions.
Tomatoes should NEVER be refrigerated. It ruins their flavor. They can sit on your counter for several days or be dehydrated or frozen. Click here to see how to make and freeze your own amazingly wonderful tomato sauce. Click here to see how to make your own healthy rotel.
Bananas, of course, should never be refrigerated either and last for a few days at room temperature.
Many foods can be dehydrated and stored in an airtight container for months or a year. Grapes, bananas, and other fruits are very tasty dehydrated. Vegetables such as corn, peas, onions, tomatoes and others can be dehydrated and used later in soups and stews. Greens and herbs can be dried for later use as well.
Dehydrated tomatoes make a great topping for salads as well. Hot peppers can be put on a string to dry at room temperature and last for a couple of years.
Grapes should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator. You can also dry them and make raisins. Something you may not have thought of was freezing grapes. All you have to do is toss them in the freezer in zip lock bags. They are cold and refreshing and make a GREAT summertime treat.
I make a green powder every year from greens in the garden and use it throughout winter to sprinkle into the kid’s food to enhance its nutrition when we are eating grocery store food because the garden is dormant. Click here to see how I make green powder and dry herbs.
What’s the best way to store cucumbers? Do carrots have to be refrigerated? What’s the best way to store oranges, best way to store peaches, best way to store bell peppers? Grapes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cucumbers, and most other fresh produce can be stored in the refrigerator in your crisper drawers for several days, or up to weeks for things like apples, pears, plums, and citrus fruits. This is a great way to store fruits and vegetables.
To make your asparagus last as long as possible, stand it up in a cup in a small amount of water, it will stay fresh longer than you think. The same is true for cut herbs and greens. You can extend the life by several days.
Produce should not be wrapped tightly in plastic. Produce needs to breathe, so use cloth bags, or plastic with ventilation for storage. Greens and lettuces can be rinsed, allowed to dry and wrapped in damp paper towels to reduce the chance of going to waste before you can use it.
Freezing garden produce
Many fruits and vegetables can be blanched or boiled for 1-3 minutes depending on the type of produce, dried completely, and then frozen in airtight containers such as ziplock freezer bags, mason jars, plastic containers or whatever else you have on hand.
Green beans, peaches, blueberries, greens that will be used in a casserole. Okra can be blanched, cut, breaded, and frozen on a cookie sheet and then placed in an airtight container. Most fruits and vegetables will store in the freezer for 3-6 months or longer.
In addition, you can shred carrots, onions, squashes, and other foods and freeze them for use in soups, sauces, and casseroles later.
Click here for further instructions on how to freeze produce for storage. Or grab this handy resource for how to use all the produce you grow without canning.
There is no sense wasting your time and money buying or growing your produce if you will just end up throwing it in the compost pile, or worse yet, sending it to the landfill. Plan well and try to only buy the produce you need for a week’s meals.
Try to grow the amount of a food that you can use, although that’s a pretty tall order I know. It’s not easy to calculate what will produce for you, but you can always give it a try based on last year’s production. In the end, Mother Nature will do what she wants.
I love learning new ways of storing foods that will help me get the most for my efforts in the garden. How do you store what you grow?
Preserving garden produce
Check out these other food preservation articles for ways to store fruits and vegetables.