Thursday, August 19, 2010

The "Root Cellar"

The potatoes have been dug and my garden is starting to look bare with the new large empty patch.  We have Yukon Gold and Dakota Jewel Red in every size, from very large one potato for two people to pearl onion size.  This should be enough potatoes to take us well into the winter, perhaps clear through to spring.

Homegrown potatoes need to be cured before they are stored so that their skins can be toughened up.  Spread them out in a protected area that is 60 to 70 degrees for one to two weeks.  Leave a layer of dirt on the potatoes, this extends their live, and never wash them before storing.  Place in a bin or burlap, but never plastic, then store them in a cold, damp, dark spot.  A root cellar is ideal.  High humidity and a temperature of 38 to 40 degrees is ideal, the temperatures in my cold storage are around 50 degrees, but they still keep fairly well.

This is our "root cellar", a small space in the basement that the prior owner built as a cold-storage room.  It is nothing special to look at, but it does the trick; there are no windows, it is insulated, has shelves and a door.  We store our squash, potatoes, onions, and apples in here.  Potatoes will keep in these conditions for 4 to 6 months.  Last year our garden potatoes kept well into January when we used the last of them up, they were not even soft or sprouting.  Keep an eye on them though, if one potato goes bad, perhaps from a bruised spot, pull it out or the rest will start to go.  Also, be sure not to store potatoes and apples close together or they won't keep well.