Everyone loves fresh Ontario produce during the summer and early fall, but how can we keep the bounty throughout the winter season? Most fruits and vegetables have a very short shelf life, but there are some that can be kept for many weeks and others, even months. Here is a list of Ontario fruits and veggies that if stored properly, can be enjoyed well after bringing them home from your favorite store or farmers’ market.
Apples: Store in root cellar or dark, cool basement or garage. Keep them away from other produce because they give off ethylene gas which makes other vegetables sprout and rot. Most varieties of apples can be stored three to six months.
Asian Pears: Place in sealed bags in the refrigerator. This will help them stay hydrated. They can stay fresh up to two months.
Beets: Cut the tops off and store in a root cellar or cool, dark area in a single layer on dry sand or clean cat litter. This will keep them fresh for up to two months.
Cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
& broccoli: Harvest mature heads, roots and all. Hang upside down in a humid basement, garage, or out-building where it doesn’t go below freezing. This will keep them good for up to a month.
Onions: Store in mesh bags or open baskets in an isolated cool, dry place. They will last for months.
Carrots: If you grow them in your garden, keep them there. Cut off their green tops and cover with a foot or more of shredded leaves or straw. Top with a tarp to keep the soil from freezing and you will be able to harvest them as needed.
Potatoes: Store in a cool, dark place in paper bags with holes poked in them for ventilation. Don’t store near onions, which give off ethylene gas, causing potatoes to sprout. They will last for up to two months. Do not expose to light, as this will also trigger sprouting. Never store in the refrigerator as the cold lessens their flavor.
Squash & pumpkins: Clean the squash with bleach and water to kill any fungi or bacteria on its rind and then store in any cool spot. This will keep them fresh for up to six months.