Store Garden Produce #10-More on Root Cellaring-Part 2

In How to Build a Cellar Part 1, the construction of a root cellar was introduced where anyone could build within the confines of their own basement. Below are several other options available instead of building a full-fledged root cellar. Even though building a cellar may require a bit of an investment, alternatives are available for little or no cost at all. This article is not inclusive. This is a wrap up to Kali’s Store Garden Produce Series #1-10.   Follow the whole series Here!

Any type of root cellar will eventually pay for itself by allowing its owner to store up produce or additional food that might either be homegrown or purchased at their local farmers market during the harvesting season. Fresh, homegrown produce is more economical, provides more nutrients and definitely is tastier than produce purchased at the Supermarket. Furthermore, a cellar of any type is quite inexpensive to maintain, it requires optional electricity and if built correctly, will not require further maintenance or upkeep.

Root Cellaring Concepts: As mentioned in Store Garden Produce # 9, when considering any form of root cellar you will need to understand the main concepts. Good results in storage depend upon:

1––Ventilation: You will need constant air circulation in any cellar to remove air-borne molds. Use a warm air vent as well as a cold air return as discussed in store garden produce #9 of this series.
2––Regulation of temperature: Temperature is maintained by venting as well as packaging the individual produce in newspaper, moss, or others stated below.
3––Sufficient moisture: The air must not be allowed to become too dry, as this will cause the produce to shrivel. Sprinkle with water when needed.
4––Type of insulation: Clean straw, corn stalks, dry leaves, hay, newspaper or sawdust are all common forms of root cellar insulation. Dirt is the most inexpensive and most natural insulation readily available. A slightly more expensive alternative is peat moss. However, it is only recommended for a single storage season due to the contaminating molds and bacteria it might develop within.  Straw and dry leaves as well need to be replaced every year. Faced or unfaced insulation with a proper vapor barrier can also be used for longer-term use.
5––Quality of vegetables stored: Always use produce at its prime, without lack of maturity, puncture marks or presence of decay.
6––Darkness: Stored produce is best if kept in total darkness for maximum freshness and longevity, especially potatoes; they are the most susceptible to turning green when exposed to light.
7––Ethylene Ripening: Special care needs to be taken into consideration with ethylene gas ripening. For a complete list of Fruit & Vegetables of ethylene ripening criteria as well as a chart on Temperature and Humidity control.

Timing of Storage: Another aspect to root cellaring is the timing of storing the produce itself. It is not so much as how to store garden produce, but as when to store garden produce for the winter. If you place fruits or vegetables in storage, either in pits or in cellar rooms before the cold weather sets in for the fall, this will become your major cause of early spoilage. The most difficult steps with successful storages is to keep the produce in prime condition after harvest until the temperature of the cellar is able to provide a dormant state. Most root vegetables can be left in the ground after several frosts. Some can even be stored in the ground all winter depending upon how cold your climate gets. Visit my other articles for available charts on the difference.


How to Make a Root Barrel: Outdoor pits and root barrels can be used as an alternative in storing produce if the drainage is thorough. Outdoor pits can be either lined or unlined. A lined pit is one that is sealed against ground water and rodents. This typically consists of a 55 gallon barrel or drum that is buried semi-horizontally in the ground. Place 2-3 bushel full of mixed roots in the barrel, using insulating material or wrapped individually, then put the lid loosely in place to allow for airflow. Cover the barrel with about 12 inches of straw held in place by a 3-inch layer of soil. You can add more straw depending upon the amount of cold for your particular climate.

In the unlined pit, the roots are piled on a layer of straw and the pile is then covered with more straw held in place by a layer of soil. The unlined pit must be dug in an area where water will not fill the pit and where rodents are not a problem.

A storage mound is similar to the unlined pit. It is used where groundwater is a problem or where only a short storage period under mild temperatures is anticipated. The produce is piled on a layer of straw on top of the ground. The mound is then covered with a layer of straw that is held in place by a layer of soil. The mound usually contains one or two bushels of mixed roots, so when the mounds are removed, all the produce can be taken into the house. Click Here for Diagrams.

There are many different options available to build your own cellar. I heard of one person using an old bus. To expand upon this further, you would want to dig out a pit with a backhoe that is larger than the bus itself. Make sure to dig down at least 6-12 inches further, depending upon your climate, so that you will be able to cover the roof of the bus with dirt. Seal the front doors shut and close off any other holes to provide an airtight enclosure. Remove all the seats and replace them with shelving. Use the windows as venting by applying the venting system described in Store Garden Produce #9.

Drive the bus front first, into the pit. Then use the emergency exit as the main entrance for the cellar. Backfill all around the bus and cover the roof with dirt. You could also build stairs to walk down to the level of the door as well, but then you will want to black out the window and insulate the door against the cold. Another option is build an antechamber as you first walk into the bus as extra storage. Then build a second door which actually enters the cellar itself. Since the bus is quite large, you would be able to patrician off several areas, one for vegetables, one for fruits, one for the smelly items such as cabbage or turnips. Make sure to vent each patrician individually.

Instead of using an old bus, shipping containers and freight train boxcars will work just as well. Or how about using a discarded walk in freezer from an old restaurant that perhaps went out of business. Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless.

On a smaller scale, consider using discarded dryer drums or old refrigerators that can be picked up from the local dump or recycling center. I personally prefer the refrigerator due to the two separate compartments and the addition of an icemaker in the door. Depending upon how the icemaker is constructed, remove the icemaker parts and you will find holes going to the freezer compartment, one for ice and one for water. These holes can be used for the cold and warm air return. Insert plastic tubing in the holes then seal around the tubing. You will probably have to drill two holes within the icemaker unit in the refrigerator door to allow the exchange of air to the refrigerator compartment as well. Add elbows or screening at the top to keep out the snow, rain or insects. Next, dig your pit large enough to place the unit in, making sure to allow the depth slightly below ground level. Place some rocks in the bottom of the hole for drainage. Place the unit into the hole on its back. The door or doors will open like a lid. You can use the discarded bins and shelves to pack the produce with in the unit. Use the insulating material described above when packing your produce. Place a plastic tarp over the door seals of the unit so that water will not ice the doors closed.  Surround the outside of the refrigerator with dirt but leave the top uncovered. For the top, several hay or straw bails kept intact are preferred due to the ease of removal when accessing the produce within.

http://www.holisticherbsinfo.com/store-garden-produce-part-10/”>


More Tips & Techniques for Root Cellaring Here!

Follow Kali’s Entire Series on Storing Garden Produce for Winter
Parts 1-5: Store Garden Produce For Winter
Store Garden Produce #6-Storing & Freezing Green Beans Types
Store Garden Produce #7- Storing Cherries – Freezing Apples
Store Garden Produce #8-Ethylene Ripening-List of Fruits & Vegetables
Store Garden Produce #9-How To Build A Cellar-Part 1
Store Garden Produce #10-More on Root Cellaring-Part 2

More Root Cellar Alternatives Here ~

Successful Gardening!
Kali S Winters

        



Store Garden Produce #9-How To Build A Cellar-Part 1

The year round availability of fresh produce at supermarkets in this modern society has pretty much eliminated the use of the historic age-old root cellars. It appears that all that remains of its existence are the fond childhood memories of that deep dark scary place known only to a kid as a fort! However, as more people are reverting back to the basics of home gardening, there is a revitalization of the good old-fashioned root cellar. It has been reborn into an indispensable addition. You can easily build a root cellar in your very own basement, outbuilding or even as an outside pit. This article covers root cellars and is not inclusive. It should be shared with Kali’s Store Garden Produce Series #1-10. Store Garden Produce #10 covers root barrels, outbuildings and storage pits.

In the root cellars heyday, our ancestors used cold storage to keep food fresh when temperatures made it advisable for produce to be stored underground. Root cellars were the basic equivalent of today’s refrigerators. Nowadays, those dedicated to eating locally often preserve foods at the height of the season when produce is less expensive and more nutritional compared to buying food in the dead of winter when produce is an expensive commodity.

Root Cellaring: A root cellar is any storage area that uses the earth’s natural resources to cool, insulate and humidify the produce stored within. They are earth-friendly, non-polluting and require no electricity. To work properly, a root cellar must be able to hold temperatures of 32º to 40º F and maintain a relatively humidity level of 85 to 95 percent. A good quality hygrometer will check for humidity and temperature levels within various locations within the home, whether it be an unused storage room, basement or back porch. While the ideal root-cellar combination for fresh foods is low temperature and high humidity, the worst situation would be high temperatures and high humidity. This situation nurtures bacteria, mold and yeast. Therefore, a root cellar requires high humidity only for its ability to maintain freshness. Low temperatures (above freezing) are then needed to counter balance the bacteria and mold problems created by high humidity. Cool outdoor air circulation is also a requirement to regulate the conditions of the stored produce.

Maintaining Proper Humidity Levels: The main culprit for shriveling of produce in storage is low humidity. A dirt, sand or gravel floor is the best option for maintaining proper humidity control as well as for proper drainage. To raise the humidity of the storage air, the floor can be sprinkled down. Gravel floors provide the best “humidifiers” in this instance, especially if the gravel is several inches deep so that it is able to hold some water at the bottom. While most produce like moist conditions, standing water must be avoided. It will quickly decay your contents. Assess your own specific situation. Homeowners in the south might even consider installing a cellar sump pump or other drainage alternative if you happen to have a high water table.

For dirt or sand floors, place water in shallow pans under fresh-air intake vents to increase humidity levels. You can also pack root vegetables in damp sawdust, sand or moss to reduce surface evaporation. Covering food with dry burlap or towels can absorb some of the moisture in the air. If the air becomes too dry, dampen burlap cloths or pack root vegetables in wet sawdust to help increase humidity levels. Use your hygrometer daily!

Some root cellars wisely include two rooms, one with and one without a concrete floor. Concrete floors provide slightly lower humidity levels and are typically utilized in basement root cellars. Concrete floors are best when storing dry goods, grains, beans as well as some fresh foods such as pumpkins, onions and squash. In addition to proper temperature and humidity, all fruits and vegetables must be kept in a dark, ventilated environment. Produce must not be allowed to freeze and should be protected from rodents such as mice.



Maintaining Proper Temperature: The first consideration to provide longevity to root vegetables is to lower the storage temperature to 32° to 40° F (0 to 4 C). The goal of storage is to keep produce in a dormant state. Temperature can be regulated using 2 types of a ventilation system to the outside, either through one or two windows or by using 2 separate venting pipes. Both options allow cold air in and warm air out. Without proper ventilation for air circulation to control temperature, your stored produce will spoil. You don’t want a strong draft; however for this will remove moisture from the produce.

Cellar Ventilation: You need to install two pipes vented to the outside; one at the lowest point of the room and one at the highest. Both pipes should be a minimum of 3 inches in diameter. Cool air is denser than warm air and will collect in the low areas. Anytime the air outside your root cellar is cooler than the air inside, the air transfer from one pipe to the other will allow a heat exchange: cool air is drawn in while warm air is vented out. As outside temperatures fluctuate, you will be able to maintain continuous airflow to regulate the temperature as low as possible. Sites that include at least two windows on opposite sides of the root cellar are the least expensive to maintain and are more desirable in creating proper ventilation, particularly if the room is divided for separate dry storage goods.

The warm air pipe can be vented out the window, equipped with a elbow, at the highest point while the cool air pipe can go through the wall at any location just as long as there is an elbow attached to a length of pipe running down the inside so that it ends up about a foot from the floor. The elbows should be loose fitting since you want to be able to rotate the elbow toward the incoming wind…or direct it away from it. An alternative is to just add blast gates to each pipe. The two vents or pipes will create a siphoning effect. When the temperature outside goes below freezing, one of the gates or valves should be closed or turned from the wind. You will receive reduced venting but it will keep the produce from freezing. If the outside temperature goes below 32° F or 0 C, the freezing level, you’ll need to partially close both valves. Make sure to seal the wall or window around the pipes with aerosol insulating foam. This will fill in any gaps or cracks. Once it sets, it does a great job of holding the pipes in place. A finishing touch is to fasten a rod as a handle for each blast gate and run it through the outside wall of your cellar. This way you can open and close the valves as well as see the valves in their position without having to open the door to release the cold air. Additionally, shade the windows in a way that will prevent light from entering the cellar. Only a small amount of heat is necessary to prevent subfreezing temperatures. A light bulb left on during the coldest days provides just enough heat to keep the air above freezing. However, if you do keep it on, be sure your produce is covered with heavy cloth as protection against light and condensation, especially for potatoes!

How to Make a Cellar: You will need to consider the location of your root cellar. Some root cellars are built into hills and buried on three sides with a normal, walk-in door on the unburied side. Others are completely buried and must be entered by stairs often accessed through a door in the ceiling. If maximum coolness is a priority, as it will be in the south, then bury the cellar completely. As an alternative to a ceiling entrance, a stairwell can be dug just outside a cellar wall with a landing at the bottom, where an insulated door can be installed leading into the cellar. Keep that door out of the sun and away from any hot summer breezes. Too large of a room can become unstable over time. It may be better to build more than one if you need more room. Site your underground room in a place away from drains or other areas that may trap water. You need a good roof that doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate the cellar. It also needs to be structurally sound in order to cover the roof with at least 2 feet of soil. Dirt is the cheapest insulating material available; so do not skimp on adding more dirt. When the cellar is completely covered, scatter grass or flower seeds. Mint makes an excellent groundcover. Mint grows vigorously and produces a thick and binding root system to hold the soil in place.

When choosing a basement location, consider partitioning off the farthest northwest corner, preferably closest to the sump pump for additional humidity and one located by windows for ventilation as discussed above. Avoid heat ducts and hot water pipes that would generate heat. It will provide the coolest, dampest, darkest storage area. If located near a furnace, you can easily patrician off a section for dry storage such as grains, onions, garlic, squash and pumpkins as well as being able to insulate the actual root cellar within.

Insulating a Cold Cellar: A space eight-by-eight feet should be plenty room for the average family The best method is to use the foundation walls on the northeast corner for two sides then build the other two walls in the basement with stud and board. Due to the moist conditions, you should make the walls out of 2X4s made of cedar or other rot-resistant wood for framing as well as some moisture-resistant wall board such as “green board” used in shower stalls. While the exterior walls do not need to be insulated, the inside partitions should have 3½” thick fiberglass insulation. Faced insulation should have the vapor barrier closest to the warm side of the storage. If unfaced insulation is used, a vapor barrier such as 6-mil thick polyethylene can be used. The ceiling also requires insulation and a vapor barrier. Then it is time to apply the foam aerosol insulation to any nooks and crannies. You want the room to be as air tight as possible.

Root Cellar Door: One customized feature worth noting is to construct a door in two pieces, called a Dutch door that splits across the middle. You are able to access the bottom door when temperatures are warm and the upper section when temperatures are cold. This way you can open the upper half to grab a few items without letting out the coldest, dampest air at the bottom of the root cellar. Double-doors or a small anteroom (fore-room) provide an additional degree of protection from temperature swings.

Cellar Rack: Keep in mind that lower shelves will be cooler and wetter, higher shelves will be warmer and dryer. Arrange and space your shelves to suit the items that will likely be stored on them. Wooden wall shelves, bins, and pallet shelving is recommended, as wood does not conduct heat or cold as rapidly as metal shelving units. Do not use aluminum shelving which tends to cause condensation. Although moisture is good, icicles or water droplets are not. When you place the cellar rack, do not let the rears of shelves contact the cellar walls, as this restricts air circulation. Air circulation is critical for minimizing airborne mold, so shelves should stand 1 to 3 inches away from the walls.

Store vegetables and fruits in wood crates or boxes rather than in bins. Slatted crates for better air circulation utilize space more efficiently than baskets. Use containers that have smooth inner surfaces. Protruding wire staples in baskets and hampers are particularly damaging to a crops outer skin. Lightweight tub buckets are good containers for harvesting as well as standard apple and lug boxes used for shipping tomatoes, grapes, and nectarines.

Vegetables that are piled together will generate heat. Only stack 2-3 layers within any one container. You will want to place some of the crops on the cellar racks while others can be placed on pallets on the floor–always rotate or “air” your crops accordingly. Some crops such as potatoes, apples or pears can be covered in straw or individually wrapped in newspapers to retard ethylene gas discussed in Store Garden Produce #8.

http://www.holisticherbsinfo.com/store-garden-produce-part-9/”>



Find Additional Information on How to Build a Cellar Here!

Root Cellaring Temperature & Humidity Chart Here!
Follow Kali’s Entire Series on Storing Garden Produce for Winter
Parts 1-5: Store Garden Produce For Winter
Store Garden Produce #6-Storing & Freezing Green Beans Types
Store Garden Produce #7- Storing Cherries – Freezing Apples
Store Garden Produce #8-Ethylene Ripening-List of Fruits & Vegetables
Store Garden Produce #9-How To Build A Cellar-Part 1
Store Garden Produce #10-More on Root Cellaring-Part 2

More on Root Cellar Alternatives

Successful Gardening!
Kali S Winters

        



Store Garden Produce #7- Storing Cherries – Freezing Apples


About 30 years ago, I started planting apple trees on our land. Shortly thereafter, we also started growing cherry trees. When it came time for harvest season, we lived by trial and error. I learned more about the facts of fruits than herb gardening in those first several years. I would like to share with you my experiences to help you further develop your own skills. I will be covering Ethylene Gas in Part 8 of this series. This article is not inclusive and should be shared with Parts 1-10 of this series. (See Link Below)

Cherries-Types: The nutritional value in cherries varies somewhat amongst the two main types: sweet and sour. Sweet cherries can be eaten raw to protect their high vitamin C but they virtually contain no vitamin A. Sweet cherries also contain anthocyanin and melatonin, an antioxidant that fights insomnia and jet lag.  Sour cherries, on the other hand, are tastier when cooked. Sour cherries are lower in calories and are full of vitamin A but contain only ½ the amount of vitamin C. Sour cherries also contain fiber, manganese, copper and beta-carotene. Being a red fruit, the health benefits from cherries provide antioxidants, especially lycopene, which helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Black cherries make the perfect gout cherries. Cherries nutritional value is high in potassium and carbohydrates but low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Sweetness will vary from farm to farm, even tree to tree and week to week. The darker the cherry, the sweeter its flavor and the more health benefits. Good cherries should be large (one inch or more in diameter), glossy, plump, hard and dark-colored according to variety. The stems should be left on and be green and fresh, bending easily and snapping back when released. If buying cherries, they should be kept cool and moist, as the flavor and texture both suffer at warm temperatures. Avoid sticky cherries (they’ve been damaged and are leaking), red cherries with very pale skin (they’re not fully ripe), and bruised cherries whose flesh will be discolored under the bruise. If you find many damaged cherries, eliminate them for they will speed up the decaying process.

A Word of Caution
: Like apple seeds, cherry pits contain amygdalin, a naturally occurring cyanide/sugar compound that breaks down into hydrogen cyanide in the stomach. Accidentally swallowing a cherry pit once in a while is not a serious hazard, however, there have been reports of humans being poisoned after eating apple seeds.

Storing Cherries: Cherries have a limited growing season and are highly perishable. By storing cherries in the refrigerator, keeping them cold and humid, you will be preserving their nutrients and flavor. Loosely pack unwashed cherries in plastic bags or place them in a single layer in a shallow pan then cover with plastic wrap to minimize bruising. Check the fruit occasionally and remove any damaged cherries. Always wash your fruit before eating.  For the best, most sweetest flavor, allow the cherries to come to room temperature before eating. Fresh cherries will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Pitting Cherries: To remove cherry pits, there are two methods applied.  The first is to use actual cherry pitters. After washing and stemming the cherry, place the cherry pitters curved side, underneath the spike. Squeeze the pitter so that the spike goes through the cherry, forcing out the pit. The second method entails using either an un-bent large paper clip, or my favorite, an orange manicure stick. Insert the instrument of your choice into the stem-end of the cherry. You should feel it hit the pit. Then twist it around the pit and scoop it out. Sour cherries are the easiest to pit but after experimenting a bit to see which twisting motion works best for you, the mangled mess won’t look so bad, besides, they will still taste just as good.

Drying Cherries: Cherries take longer to dry compared to many other fruits. Both sweet and sour cherries are great for drying and they rehydrate easily. They can be used in baked products in place of raisins or in cobbler pie. You can also put them into lemonade or ice tea. Some of their vitamin C content is lost during drying however. Fresh cherries are known for their short shelf life so drying cherries will extend this process up to about a year. Select only fully ripened fruit. Wash, stem and pit them. Large cherries can be cut in half for drying. Place on the dehydrator screens and dry at a medium temperature of 140o F until pliable and leathery with no pockets of moisture. Depending upon your dehydrator’s wattage, the drying process may take anywhere from 6-18 hours. As a rule of thumb, you might want to wait an additional hour for each additional rack.

Freezing Cherries: Learn about the 4 methods of freezing cherries as well as how to preserve their color and flavor by clicking on the link below. I have also included several fresh cherry recipes-desserts like cherry tarts as well as ideas for gift giving such as fruit for gifts and fruit in a basket.

Preserving Apples:  The first rule when harvesting apples is to store only perfect fruit.  All apples should be handled with care. If any are dropped or knocked around, they should be set aside for immediate consumption. The tiniest puncture, pinprick, or bruise will be enough to cause immature decay. Use caution when storing apples with other vegetables as they give off ethylene gas that causes other vegetables to rot. I talk more about ethylene gas in part 8 of this series.

Storing Apples:  Apples can be kept for as long as 6 months if they are kept in temperatures between 32 –45ºF. Fruit must be completely dry upon storage. Moisture breads decay! Rain or dew on the skin when harvesting should be carefully dried off. An alternative is to gather your fruit on a breezy, dry summer day. As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, it is worth wrapping individual fruits in newspaper and storing them in cardboard boxes or trays in the darkest, coolest corners of the basement. Parts 9-10 of Store Garden Produce- will address alternative Root Cellars. Examine your fruit from time to time in any type of storage, removing any that show signs of ageing. Mid-season and late varieties tend to store much better than earlier season varieties.

Freezing Apples: Some types of apples freeze better than others, especially the ones for making pies or sauce. Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Winesap hold up well to freezing and resist bruising. McIntosh bruises easily and Red Delicious is the least favorite to freeze. You will need approximately 1 ¼  to 1 ½  pounds of sliced quartered apples to fill one pint and about 2 ½  to 3 pounds to fill a quart.

Preparing your apples is the most time consuming part of freezing. You can peel, core and slice your apples by hand or use a handle-crank, apple peeling machine that sits on the counter. There are basically 2 types of apple peelers: those that have a suction base and those that clamp on to the edge of a table. I prefer the suction type due to its portability. They are relatively inexpensive and work great, an apple slicer-peeler-corer all rolled into one. I always peel my apples but that’s a personal preference.

Keep Apples from Turning Brown by three easy methods: Apples are notorious for browning. Once you have washed, cored and/or peeled your apples, you will want to either (1) dissolve ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid, also known as “FruitFresh”, into 3 tablespoons of water then sprinkle over the apples and blend. (2) Soak sliced apples in a solution of 2 tablespoons of salt per 1 gallon of water, stir water a bit to make sure all have been submerged, or (3) steam-blanch them for 1 ½ minutes then cool them in ice water before freezing. Any of the three methods mentioned above will keep apples from browning and must be applied before apples are frozen.

Choose Your Method of Freezing Apples: There are several methods to freeze apples depending upon how you intend to use them afterward. Freezing apples dry, in sugar or the syrup pack method are the most popular.  The sugar pack is preferred for apples in uncooked desserts or fruit cocktail.  A sugar or dry pack is ideal for pie making.  Dry packs can be used generically. The sugar and syrup pack methods are less likely to brown or develop freezer burn. Containers suitable for freezing should be airtight and include plastic bags or rigid plastic containers. Apples in syrup or sugar packs will keep for 10-12 months when stored at 0ºF. Dry packs should be used within 3-6 months.

Dry Pack: This is the easiest method for freezing apples, but it does not retain the texture and flavor as well as the other methods. Treat apple slices to preserve color, pack them into a suitable container leaving ½ inch of headspace then freeze. Apple slices can also be frozen first on a tray and then packed into containers as soon as they are frozen.

Sugar Pack: You will need ½ cup sugar per quart (1¼ pounds) of peeled, sliced apples. After treating the apples to preserve their color, place the sliced apples into a shallow bowl. Mix in sugar then pack the apples into containers, leaving ½ inch of headspace per pint and freeze.

Syrup Pack: The sugar syrup recipe is useful because it preserves the flavor and texture best. Use 2 cups of sugar added to every 3 cups of water.  Of course, you can scale this up or down to suit the amount of apples you have. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Chill. Add ½ teaspoon of ascorbic acid to each quart of syrup. Pour ½ cup of syrup into the freezer container and add apples. If necessary, add more syrup until apples are covered and place a small piece of waxed paper on top to keep the apples submerged. Leave ½ inch headspace for pints, 1 inch for quarts.



Learn about Dehydrating Apples & Freezing Cherries Here!

Recipes with Fruits – Cherry Tarts – Fruit for Gifts Here!

Follow Kali’s Entire Series on Storing Garden Produce for Winter
Parts 1-5: Store Garden Produce For Winter
Store Garden Produce #6-Storing & Freezing Green Beans Types
Store Garden Produce #7- Storing Cherries – Freezing Apples
Store Garden Produce #8-Ethylene Ripening-List of Fruits & Vegetables
Store Garden Produce #9-How To Build A Cellar-Part 1
Store Garden Produce #10-More on Root Cellaring-Part 2

Successful Gardening!
Kali S Winters



Store Garden Produce #6-Storing & Freezing Green Beans Types


As the cooler months take hold, you might have an abundance of green beans left over from your summer crops. Did you know that “Green Beans” actually derived its name from the young pods of the bean plants that are picked before the pods ripen or dry? Only then are they tender enough to be called “Green Beans” meaning “green” for the unripe fruit of the bean; many in fact are not green in color at all. The pod colors of “green beans” can be green, golden, purple, red, or streaked. Many people associate “green beans” to the recipes for green bean casserole or 3 beans salads. But Green Beans have many more attributes… This article is not inclusive and should be shared with Parts 1-10 of this series. Part 7 of this series will provide tips and techniques on Storing Cherries & Freezing Apples as well as preserving other orchard fruits. (See Link Below)

List of Legumes: There are over 7 million tons of green beans produced annually worldwide. Green beans are actually considered a legume which describes a pod, such as that of a pea or bean, that splits into two; with the seeds considered a fruit and the pod considered a vegetable. Shapes can range from the thin “filet” beans to the wide “romano” types with the more common types in between. Green, Runner, French, Broad, Yellow Wax, Sting, Snap Beans…whichever you prefer– Green bean types have been bred especially for the bright color, crisp texture, and juicy vegetable flavor of their pods. They all describe one thing in common…all are harvested and preserved in the same fashion. Click here for a chart on the different types of green beans (Or check the link below)…

Green Beans Types: There are basically three commonly known types of green beans: string or runner beans, string less or french beans, and snap beans. Snap green beans are the ones usually grown when green bean gardening at home.  They are named for the sound they make at the perfect ripening stage. They have a thin flat pod that requires less cooking time. Sting less or french beans are generally named due to whether the pod has a tough, fibrous “string” running along its length. And string or runner beans have long, flat pods that have a coarse textured skin. More mature beans display a pronounced fibrous string running down both sides.  All green beans used to be called string beans because older varieties had fibrous side strings.  Just before use, remove the strings and trim the ends.Generally purple beans and yellow wax beans are identical in taste and texture to true colored green beans.

Pole Beans Vs Bush Beans: To make matters even more confusing, when green bean gardening, beans are then split into two sub-categories: bush beans and pole or running beans. Bush beans are short plants, growing to approximately two feet in height, without requiring supports. They generally reach maturity and produce all of their fruit in a relatively short period of time, then stop production. Growing pole beans or runners requires a bean trellis in which to climb as they grow. There really is no difference between pole beans and bush beans, other than how they are grown. One may fit into your garden architecture better than the other or you may prefer the look of one to another. Some of the most popular bush beans are Blue Lake 274, Kentucky Wonder, Festiva and Burpee’s Tenderpod. Some popular pole beans are Kentucky Blue, Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake. Check out the link at the bottom for a better distinction amongst the different green beans types.

Nutrition Facts on Beans: The calories of green beans are considered low carb beans that do not contain saturated fat. They are a rich source of vitamin K and B, minerals and are high in protein. This makes them an excellent substitute for meats in the diet. Apart from protein, beans also contain iron, fiber, folic acid and starch. Those with colored shells (such as scarlet runners) also contain antioxidants. The protein in legumes is incomplete, but, when combined with grains, they present a perfectly balanced protein, making beans and grains (mostly rice) dishes an ideal meal for vegans or vegetarians.

Harvesting Green Beans: The best time to harvest green beans is when they are small and tender. Look for beans with nicely shaped pods and small seeds. The beans should also have a velvety feel to them and be pliable. Beans that are over mature will be tough and stringy and should not be used. Light green to white wax beans have a tendency to be tough. The whiter they are, the older they are. To harvest, carefully pull them from the vine right above the bean, detaching a small length of the stem to avoid damaging the beanstalk. Look for slender yellow to pale green beans. Avoid beans with white mold or mushy tips. If you can see the shape of the beans within the pod, the beans are overgrown. If beans are picked just right, the green beans plants will continue to produce for several weeks. Pick regularly once the pods have reached a length of 6-8″ but make sure they are picked before the beans inside begin to swell. By accomplishing this – which may mean picking them every day or two – you will prolong the harvest period for 6-8 weeks. Production will stop if you allow even a few to ripen. If you plan on eating your green beans within the next few days, storing them in the refrigerator is the best option. Place the beans in a plastic bag to lock in the moisture and to prevent wilting. Do not wash or cut the beans before storage, only before eating, as they will begin to lose some of their nutrients.

To Freeze Beans: If you have been spoiled eating fresh green beans straight from your garden throughout the summer, then you may be dreading the end of the growing season where you will have to revert back to the store bought or canned green beans. Just know that freezing green beans is the easiest way to enjoy them year round. Canning requires jars, lids, and a pressure cooker along with having to sterilize the jars prior to use. It does entail tedious work. However, freezing green beans only requires a pot to boil the water, a bowl for blanching and freezer bags, or a good quality foodsaver.

Blanching Green Beans: Green beans must be blanched before any long term storage to destroy the enzymes attached to the pods that otherwise might cause the beans to change color, become pitted or lose their flavor. To blanch beans, first select the best specimens then trim and cut the beans to your desired length and form, about 1-2 inches in length. You may even prefer to leave them whole if they are young and tender. Wash them in salted water to remove any bugs. Next, bring a pot of water to a moderate boil, submerge the beans in the boiled water for about 3-5 minutes (You can re-use this water three to five times – but make sure it’s brought back to a rapid boil. Use the preserved water afterward to freeze as stock for soups or stews or use as additional boiling water for other vegetable stock—it contains nutrients). Next, use a large slotted spoon to remove the green beans from the boiling water and immediately transfer to an ice bath for about 3-5 minutes to stop the cooking process. Drain them well, trying to get as much water off them as possible before freezing.
A Word of Caution: When preparing colored green beans at home, a lot of cooks will boil or blanch them up and are then very disappointed when the color bleeds out and they are left with green colored beans. Once heat is applied to colored beans…especially the purple beans, they will loose their color and end up green in color. If you want to blanch beans, add a pinch of baking soda to the cooking water to help retain the color before freezing. Additionally, most chef’s will agree that the best way to cook colored “green beans” to retain their original color is to ” butter baste ” them. However, they will still not be as vibrant in color as in their raw form.

Freezing Green Beans: If you have a FoodSaver, now would be a great time to use it. If you don’t, make sure you get as much air out of the ziplock bag as possible to help prevent freezer burn. When packing the freezer bags, allow 1/2 inch of headroom in each bag for expansion. Seal the freezer bag and put it in the freezer. Beans can be stored for about 10 months at 0 degree Celsius. Green beans are often steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles thereafter.



Dehydrated Beans: Excellent Article on Drying Green Beans – Chart on Green Bean Types Here!

Green Bean Casseroles Recipes-Green Bean Bake Recipe-3 Bean Salads- Here!

Follow Kali’s Entire Series on Storing Garden Produce for Winter
Parts 1-5: Store Garden Produce For Winter
Store Garden Produce #6-Storing & Freezing Green Beans Types
Store Garden Produce #7- Storing Cherries – Freezing Apples
Store Garden Produce #8-Ethylene Ripening-List of Fruits & Vegetables
Store Garden Produce #9-How To Build A Cellar-Part 1
Store Garden Produce #10-More on Root Cellaring-Part 2

Successful Gardening!
Kali S Winters



Store Garden Produce #8-Ethylene Ripening-List of Fruits & Vegetables


Ethylene Ripening Chart-List of Fruits & Vegetables Here!

Most fruits and vegetables generate ethylene gas during the ripening stage. While this gas is harmless to humans, it can be detrimental to other produce. Below is a list of fruits & vegetables affected by ethylene ripening and tips for keeping produce fresh. This article is not inclusive and should be shared with parts 1-10 on Kali’s store garden produce series.

What Is Ethylene Gas: Ethylene acts as a plant hormone at trace levels throughout the life of the plant by regulating the ripening of fruit and vegetables, the opening of flowers, and the shedding of leaves. This ethylene hormone produces gas from essentially all parts of higher plants, including the leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruits, tubers, and seedlings. Wounding, flooding, drought and chilling can also induce ethylene ripening.

Kitchen Food Storage: It is estimated that on average families in the US toss out 470 pounds of food annually, which is about 14% of all food brought into the household. This equates to an annual wastage of $900 per year per family. While people do indeed waste food, a hefty portion of that waste is accidental, brought about by not knowing how to properly care for or store their produce. The ethylene gas premature aging process is a prime contributor to food waste which is estimated at $43 billion worth of food every year.

How is Gas Produced: Your refrigerator acts as a trap for ethylene ripening by allowing it to build up to damaging levels. Although it’s not hazardous to humans, the ethylene gas leads to the early aging and decay of your produce. While the cold in the refrigerator does slow down the emission of gas from most produce, it can speed it up for others. By segregating your fresh produce and consuming it within a few days to retain its freshness in the refrigerator, you will drastically cut down on fresh produce waste and will save your household upwards to hundreds of dollars per year.

If you have followed the first 7 parts of Kali’s Store Garden Produce Series, you would have been provided with numerous tips and techniques for keeping produce fresh and the effects of ethylene ripening. Kali’s 10 part series entails harvesting herbs, storing ripen tomatoes, freezing tomatoes, how to harvest garlic and onions, keeping vegetables fresh, freezing squash and pumpkins, storing green beans, freezing apples and storing cherries and the like.  Click here for more info.

Food Storage Tips: Most fruits and vegetables generate ethylene gas while they ripen, especially if they have been damaged. If you mix fruits, vegetables or flowers together that either emit or are sensitive to ethylene gas, much of your fresh produce will age and decay faster than you would care for. In general, fruit become less green and softer as it ripens. Even though the acidity of fruit increases as it ripens, the higher acidity level is not reflected in its flavor, which can lead to the misunderstanding that the riper the fruit the sweeter it is. Ethylene gas does not take away flavor, but will actually add to flavor by breaking down starch into sugar. If ripening occurs naturally, produce would sit on the shelf longer. Spoiling occurs at the end of the ripening process.

If you should take notice of the produce section at the grocery store, you will find that onions, garlic, tomatoes and potatoes are all displayed in center isles, away from the refrigerated section. Bananas are separated as far away from apples (the most conspicuous culprit of ethylene gas) while leafy greens are under the “sprayer” due to their low shelf life. Leafy vegetables for example, begins to decay when exposed to ethylene gas at low temperatures are especially sensitive to ethylene, even in very low quantities. If you should place spinach or kale in the same crisper bin as peaches or apples, they will turn yellow and limp within a few days. Products sensitive to ethylene gas, such as broccoli and bananas, will spoil quickly if stored in the same areas as avocados, melons, and apples, which are ethylene producers. Typically all short-term shelf life produce are displayed under the refrigerated “sprayer section” compared to the potatoes, onions, tomatoes and fruit. A lot can be learned from observing how grocery stores section off their produce department. Look at several stores to compare.

Ethylene ripening will also shorten the shelf life of cut flowers, potted plants and herbs by accelerating floral senescence (aging) and floral abscission (shedding of petals and leaves). Flowers, plants and herbs that are subjected to stress during shipping, handling, or storage produce ethylene gas causing a significant reduction in floral display. Flowers affected by ethylene ripening include carnations, geraniums, petunias, roses and many others.

The use of brown paper bags, plastic storage crates or a good quality, breathable, green garden bag will absorb and remove these gases and is safe for storage. It is not advisable to store garden produce in plastic bags. They will indeed hold in the ethylene gas and will not allow in the oxygen required to ripen produce.

The following list of fruits and vegetables is provided below so that you can keep specific fruits and vegetables apart and help reduce your family’s food budget by keeping produce fresh longer.

Ethylene Gas Producers: Apples, apricots, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupe, citrus fruit (not grapefruit), cranberries, figs, guavas, grapes, green onions/scallions, honeydew/watermelons, ripe kiwi fruit, mangoes, melons, mushrooms, nectarines, okra, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, peppers, persimmons, pineapple, plantains, plums/prunes, ripening bananas, quinces and tomatoes.

Damaged by Ethylene Gas: Asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cucumbers, cut flowers, eggplant, endive, escarole, florist greens, green beans, kale, kiwi fruit, leafy greens, lettuce, parsley, peas, peppers, potatoes, potted plants, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, watercress and yams.



Follow Kali’s Entire Series on Storing Garden Produce for Winter
Parts 1-5: Store Garden Produce For Winter
Store Garden Produce #6-Storing & Freezing Green Beans Types
Store Garden Produce #7- Storing Cherries – Freezing Apples
Store Garden Produce #8-Ethylene Ripening-List of Fruits & Vegetables
Store Garden Produce #9-How To Build A Cellar-Part 1
Store Garden Produce #10-More on Root Cellaring-Part 2

Successful Gardening!
Kali S Winters