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Food Preservation Nothing looks better than a pantry full of home preserved foods. This is where we share information on preserving the harvest through canning, dehydrating, freezing, brining, sausage and cheese making, smoking and curing.

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Old 09-19-2008, 01:34 PM   #1
D. Gale
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Default Storing bulk apples, potatoes and/or yellow onions?

What's the best way to store apples, potatoes and yellow onions (other than "not together")? One of our local discount grocery stores has the potatoes and onions for $5.00 for three 5# bags, and I want to get a bunch at that price. Another store has gala apples for 88 cents a pound, so I want to get some of those, too. I have a lot of questions on storing bulk quantities of all three of these items. Do I leave them in the plastic bag? Put them in something else? Turn them every so often? Cool? Cold? Dark? Dry?

I tend to put bags of potatoes in the downstairs pantry and then forget I have them. Then they rot in the bag. I want to put them in a bin or basket in the kitchen a bag at a time and use them more this fall and winter (lots of crockpot recipes). But I don't want to buy 30# (or more) of potatoes and have them rot on me.

I'm pretty good at using up onions when I buy 3-5# at a time, but I'm not sure how to store them for longer periods.

I haven't stored a bushel of apples in years, but even the U-pick places around here won't be under $1/pound, and galas are our favorites, so I want to stock up.

Tips and suggestions, please?

ETA: Oops, maybe this should have gone in the prep room, rather than the kitchen? Mods, I leave it to your discretion.

Last edited by D. Gale; 09-19-2008 at 01:36 PM. Reason: room placement question
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:05 PM   #2
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Google "root cellaring."

You're far enough north to make it work for you. Cool, dark, not too damp, not too dry, with good air flow.

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Old 09-19-2008, 02:30 PM   #3
D. Gale
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Gah. It looks like temperatures have to stay below 40F for root cellaring, and we won't have those for a few months, yet. Maybe I'll just can and/or dehydrate 'em.

Thanks, Alan.
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:44 PM   #4
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D.Gale, I have been buying bulk from a wholesale market, and often have a large box of produce left over that we can't eat fresh.

I dehydrate onions. Some are dried at a low heat and come out light colored and sharp, some are dehydrated at a higher heat and brown up and get a nuttier taster, and I grab up the overdried pieces and grind them up to make onion powder. I also make an onion relish that I can. It's basically sauteed onions in a tomato-barbecue type sauce. Great for topping off hotdogs and hamburgers.

Potatoes get canned or frozen. Little whites get canned. I prefer to freeze russets. I bake them and pull off the skins, then just pop into a plastic bag and squish down. They work well for homefries - just defrost, toss in a pan, spice them up and they brown up nicely. Yukon Gold, boil and mash with butter and milk, then freeze. You can also make potato pancakes and freeze them. I have yet to get potatoes to rehydrate nicely so I leave that to the pros.

Apples never last long here. Canned apple pie filling, premade and frozen apple pies and cobbler, dehydrated apples (dip in cinnamon sugar, yummy) and apple jelly from the skins and core.
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:48 PM   #5
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Ok you know not together.

Potatoes store extremely well in dark, dry, cold places. If you have a place that can hold sand then dig them into that. I assume you freeze hard outside in the winter so you'll need them inside. If you don't have sand or it is expensive or a problem just go through the potatoes as you place them in your bin or cardboard box and make sure you use the ones with any marks or bruises first. Treat them easy. Potatoes will bruise if thrown around. Check through them over the winter and take out any that need using up. Leave the lid open but keep them in the dark. After the winter sostace sometime they'll start to sprout just take the sprouts off of them and they should last longer.

I don't know anything about Galla Apples. I'd google them and see if they are a keeper. I have old fashioned varieties and they are made for keeping. Some longer than others. The Pippin's are a cooking apple and will keep all winter. Next up are Spie and MacIntosh in my book. But I really don't know anything about these new apples. I am not an apple grower other than a few trees over the years. An apple grower would know best. I remind myself of the old line. I use the apples that were good enough for my mother and her mother.

I have some put into the cold room in the dark and for now we have the Red Delicious. Later when we harvest we'll have the Pippin. That is if the birds don't finish them all off first.

Onions well good luck. I personally have suspected for a number of years that there is some kind of onion illness over taking the commercial onion growers. Onions don't keep like they use to.
My home grown ones keep better. I've no problem keeping shallots over winter with minimal care. This year I am going to get dehydrated. I've found a source and I figure if I don't have enough from the little bit that was in the garden here I am buying them work done.

Dehydrating them is always a good choice if you have the time and inclination. But then that is good for the apples as well. Dehydrated apple chips for snacks and they make a good pie. But I don't know do Galla make a good pie? I keep thinking they are an eating apple only.

Perhaps my babble has helped you some.
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Old 09-20-2008, 10:40 AM   #6
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I learned from one short employment experience at a nationwide market chain known for their organic foods, that they cover the displays of potatoes every night with white cloths like tablecloths.So I started doing this at home in my own pantry,which is coolish and dark anyhow.My potatoes are kept in an airy basket and so now I just keep them covered at all times and they last 3 times longer than before. Onions, I agree with Sarrah, they just do not keep as long, unless they are a new crop from the farmers market. I do store them away from the potatoes as there is some conflict with storing those two together.
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Old 09-20-2008, 11:53 AM   #7
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DG:

In my experience, onions keep best in net bags hung from the ceiling in a cool dark room. It really depends on the variety. These new sweet onions can't be stored.

Potato storage in sand works. If you buy the sand, don't get the cheap stuff. It is usually dredged from the river and is full of Fusarium. Playbox sand is sterilized.

I may be wrong, but I don't think Gala store well.

Best Wishes,,,,,,

Z
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Old 09-20-2008, 12:32 PM   #8
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I once went to a wonderful place called I think 'Well Sweep Farm.' Have to look it up on the internet.

The couple had taken an old farmhouse which had been used as a sheep barn, and a lot of acerage, and lived off the land for many years. They may be in their late 70's or early eighties now. The farmhouse was so odorous that they had to gut it, and only kept the stone shell.

Spent a wonderful afternoon there a few years ago.

Anyway, since they bought very little food that they didn't raise or grow, they had a small cold storage shed of concrete. A few steps down, and they had wooden boxes filled with sand where they kept potatos. I don't remember how they kept their apples. But they had an ancient apple tree, that had been blasted by lightning. Only a half trunk and a few branches, which the owner said had the best tasting apples he ever ate.

This couple were almost entirely self sufficient for over 40 years.
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:36 PM   #9
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DG, have you got a basement? Buy a few of those plastic round "tubs" that are about three feet high, and have the rope handles. They sometime market them as clothes hampers for kids. Toss some sand if you have it, or buy playsand that is clean, into the tubs. Then bury the taters in them, it also works for carrots, and likely would work for onions...possibly any root veggies. Put them in a cool area of your basement.

As for the apples, I'd buy those tall, flexible clothes hampers with the holes all the way up, and the handles. Wrap each apple in a sheet of newspaper, and place in the hamper in a cool, dark area of the basement. Should last quite a while, and a spoiled one won't necessarily spoil the rest. If you don't have a basement, a protected area in the crawl space under the house should work fine as well. That's what my grandparents used, their crawl space.

My DH's great grandmother wrote a book of her life. In the early 1900s, her family lived on Prince Edward Island, Canada. They had a trap door in the kitchen floor, which allowed you to pull up a shelving unit type contraption from the crawl space under the house. On the shelves of this contraption were their butter, milk, cheese, and leftovers. That was their fridge. Just something to chew on.
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:46 PM   #10
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Yes, we have a half basement (split level), but one wall (which has built-in storage) shares a foundation wall with the unheated garage and has a slab floor with only linoleum on it, so I was thinking of using that area. Those big rope-handled buckets won't fit, but if I can use a similar, smaller container (like the 14 gallon rubbermaid bins without lids) I could fill a couple of those with sand and potatoes, and slide them in and out. I think I will try one bucket with potatoes (as an experiment) and can the rest. I mostly wanted some for putting in crockpot dishes, anyways, so it doesn't matter if most of them get processed.

I love Galas, and most of the websites I saw said they were good not only for eating but as a general cooking and baking apple, so I think I'll peel and slice and can them to use later this winter. I know I won't be able to beat that price, so I might as well get 'em now.

I think I need to borrow a dehydrator for the onions (and maybe a batch of apples). I have a homeschooling friend who got one last year -- maybe she'd take some dried onions or canned apples in trade.

Thanks everybody! Looks like I'll have a busy week ahead of me.
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Old 09-20-2008, 09:31 PM   #11
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Default Pantyhose

I have a friend who used to buy Vidalia onions in bulk. She would put the onions in an old (clean) pair of pantyhose. She'd put in one onion at a time and tie a knot in the pantyhose above the onion, then add more onions until the pantyhose were filled up. Then she'd hang the onion-hose from a pipe in a cool part of the basement. When she wanted an onion, she'd cut off the lowest one. The knot above the onion would hold the rest of the onions in place. She said she could store onions for at least a couple of months this way.
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Old 09-20-2008, 10:13 PM   #12
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I've heard of that pantyhose trick before -- I wonder if it works for other yellow onions?
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Old 09-20-2008, 10:18 PM   #13
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I've had Vidalia type onions (Granex) that I grew keep for about nine months here in Florida whens stored on screens in my workshop. It's hot and humid, but they had plenty of air flow around them and were not in contact with each other. Lost about a third or thereabouts, but I ate the last one the December after I grew them.

I was speaking with a woman who owns a farm supply this morning where I was buying this year's onion sets and she says that if you store them on screen upside down there will be less loss to rot as moisture accumulation within the onion is better able to drain.

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Old 09-21-2008, 06:40 AM   #14
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A good root cellar works in colder parts of the country for 4 months out of the year. Otherwise, you are talking about canning, freezing or dehydrating. When I was doing small scale farming for personal and family needs, I found that boiling potatoes and tomatoes for a few seconds in salt water and then popping them into the freezer kept them for later uses in cooking. When winter set in, we would just pop a few frozen potatoes or tomatoes in a soup pot. Dehydrated potato slices end up as home made chips. Carrots can be dehydrated in the same manner and are very rich in carotene (Vit A). Dehydrated Tomatoes are also vitamin rich and go well when added to a soup or kept around as munchies. When you dehydrate onions, they end up like a seasoning. Apple slices turn into munchable apple chips. If you grind up apples into a sauce you can store it in airtight mason jars. It can be used later as applesauce, in apple pie, or just add plain yogurt.
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Old 09-21-2008, 03:42 PM   #15
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I'd forgotten to mention the panty hose trick. It does work. One important part to it is as you use the onions cut them off from one side then the other. I pass mine over a 1 inch conduit that is nailed in place. They are heavy when you put in lots of onions, which you can, cause they stretch. (that sentance or sentences needs fixing but I'm not up to it today, sorry)
But if you don't cut from one side then the other you get one side heavier and you know how that goes. :
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