Storing root vegetables; tips and tricks

row of Becca's Purple, harvested purple sweet potatoes
Ginseng orange sweet potato root, 1 1/2 lb sweet potato

One of the issues that faces homesteaders after we have grown our crops, is how to store them. Particularly root vegetables. So, I wanted to talk a little bit about storing root vegetables today. Obviously if you don’t store them correctly, they can spoil.

Here’s how to store root vegetables according to George McLaughlin:

Sweet potatoes should be kept in a warm place, preferably over 50 F. Once harvested they can be washed, if one wishes, but they should be well dried before being stored in a breathable container. I like to use cardboard boxes. Plastic boxes are fine, as long as air can get in. Chilling sweet potatoes will shorten their shelf life.

I’ve heard of people canning sweet potatoes, but haven’t tried it. Seems like a lot of work when they keep up to a year (sometimes longer) with little effort.

Carrots can be kept in the ground and dug as needed. If one lives in a place with extremely cold weather, they can be mulched heavily for winter digging. Or, once can dig them and store in a container, packed with sand and in a cool place, such as a root cellar, or basement or garage of a home. They can tolerate temperatures to about freezing, but if frozen they may be spoiled.

Parsnips are like carrots, except perhaps, they handle freezing temperatures better. Both carrots and parsnips can be stored in the crisper drawer of a fridge.

Irish potatoes store best in a cool, dry location. If kept at room temperature, they may last for a couple of months. If kept in a cooler place, such as a root cellar or garage, they may well last until spring.

With all of these root crops, be sure to sort and remove any damaged roots before storing. Damaged roots can cause spoilage to spread to the other roots, so they should be eaten first.”

We frequently store sweet potatoes in a cardboard box in a fairly warm place, above 50 F.

Hopefully these tips on storing root vegetables will help you all out. Keep in mind that carrots and parsnips do have a storage time limit in a fridge. They do better for longer term storage, not kept in a fridge but in a root cellar, basement, or garage as described above. That said, you can click here for more information on fridge storage.

Oh one more thing, did you know sweet potatoes need to be cured? Check it out here

Another interesting article you might also enjoy is growing Irish potatoes in containers. That could be useful for many of us.
Let us know in the comments if you have any other methods of storing root vegetables that we didn’t cover here.
Until next time,
Homestead in health, y’all!


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