Organization: Tips to organize your can shelves, freezers and root cellar

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“How lovely is the silence of growing things.” Author unknown

The aromas of fall leave a lingering, longing feeling within me.  The burning leaf piles scratchy scent wafting through the air. That damp smell in the morning through the dense fog. Fall holds a beauty of her own that no other season can mimic.

I’m dreaming of more time…
More time before the white stuff begins to fall…
More time to dig in my gardens rich, loamy soil…
More time to feel the suns rays warm the back of my neck…

More time to garden.

DPP_0013Time is not on my side though. The calendar is telling me to get a grip and grasp hold of reality… cause the white stuff will be here all too soon.

There’s work to be done!

Planting next years garlic.  Seeding spinach and transplanting lettuces into the hoop house… I’ll defy winter, at least for a while there.

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Harvesting the winter squash and potatoes, apples and carrots. The bounty is rolling in and filling not only my can shelves and freezers, but the root cellar as well.

Keeping these areas organized through the year can be a challenge. Here are some tips to organize your can shelves, freezers and root cellars… and keep them that way!

I’ve often mentioned my love to journal… well, it carries right through into my preserving efforts through the season. I keep a Canning Record/Journal. This little book documents the last fifteen years of what I’ve ‘put-up’ for my family.

Each spring we do an inventory of canned goods on the shelves as well as in the root cellar and freezer. This way I know what we need to preserve that season and what I have plenty of.

I write this list in my Canning Record/Journal… it’s actually the first page to start each new season.

After my inventory is complete I make a list of what items I need to can/freeze and the quantity I want to do. This is the second page in my journal for the current canning season.  As each product gets put on the can shelf, in the root cellar and freezer I have the sheer joy of crossing that item off my list! A job well done!

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In my canning record/journal I document:
*The date
*The item preserved
*The quantity I started with and if it was purchased- how much it cost and where; if given- by who and how much; or produced on farm.
*The amount of finished product
*If it went into freezer, can shelf or root cellar
*The page number and cookbook I used if a new recipe
*Whether or not we liked something or not
*Any other pertinent info that I don’t want to forget.

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During the canning season, we often have to move jars and reorganize to make more room for a particular item. I always keep similar items together. This makes it much easier for the children when I ask them to go and fetch me something. For example, I keep all my tomato based products together; Spaghetti and marinara sauces, Bar-B-Que sauces, ketchup, salsa, pizza sauce and V-8 Juice. The one exception to this rule is Tomato soup~ that goes with the soups I can.

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I can apple, peach, blueberry and cherry pie fillings… these all stay together. Fruits, juices, jams and condiments are next to one another; potatoes, carrots, beans, beets are together as veggies; meats are right beside the veggies, then broth and soups, and so on.

I follow the same rule for the root cellar and freezers. Two freezers hold veggies, fruit and jams, while the other two hold meat items. Again, this makes it easier for the children.

Organization of the root cellar is equally important, It needs to be kept clean and sorted through the winter. Unlike the jars and freezers, theDPP_0020 items in the root cellar will spoil. Certain items should not be stored together such as apples and onions or potatoes.

My main goal is to use the items ripening or not holding well first and purge spoiled/ing items. The old saying of one rotten apple will spoil the whole bushel is true!

My basement is very wet and damp and is not conducive to root cellaring. We tried for several years with little success. I therefore only store a few things. I can, freeze and dry most others for this reason. The only things I do store are winter squash, onions, garlic and apples. I keep cabbage in the garage in crates.

Root cellaring is a great way to store many of your root and storage crops. I highly suggest you read up on the topic before you start. There are many tips and tricks  that will help you have a successful experience. Give it a try… you won’t be disappointed!DPP_0165

A great resource on this topic is “Root Cellaring” by, Mike and Nancy Bubel, published by Storey Publishing, www.storey.com. This book  is a must have if you intend to store crops in a root cellar.

Keep posted for my NEW article coming this week from The Detroit News, The Good Life blog on Root Cellar tips!

Stay tuned tomorrow for some yummy Root Storage crop recipes… yum!

Happy Day,
Jean

 

Here are a few links to see more great info on root cellar storage

http://agnic.msu.edu/cgi-bin/library?e=d-000-00—0usda–00-0-0–0prompt-10—4——0-1l–1-en-50—20-help—00031-001-1-0utfZz-8-00&d=HASHe6345677e08dee9ff41065

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/food-storage-zm0z12aszcom.aspx

http://www.netplaces.com/root-cellaring/storing-produce/best-veggies-for-storing.htm

6 thoughts on “Organization: Tips to organize your can shelves, freezers and root cellar

  1. Jean, all I can say is, “Wow!” You are an inspiration! I love to preserve and your tips here along with your photos are causing great envy. I am going to print this out and save it with my canning recipes so I can use it each year. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

  2. With all the mulching you do, I’m surprised you didn’t mention keeping some root vegetables, like carrots and beets, in the ground and heavily mulched to be pulled later. Do you ever do that?

    • Hey Kat! Do I like winter?
      I don’t go out to do anything I don’t have to in the snow… but that is a very good question and is very well explained in my topic book. But as far as me… nope, never done that…
      But, I have stored my carrots in sand in the basement along with beets. But as I mentioned, my basement is just plain mean to fresh veggies, LOL!
      Thanks for the comment,
      Jean

  3. This is on a personal note but,I just have to say it…your husband found a GEM when he found you…I know he is so proud of you…Gardening,canning,freezing,drying and all is so much fun and rewarding but,that is a lot of hard hard hard work….My Mama and Granny always had me helping them from getting the garden ready to plant,the planting,keeping weeds out,harvesting,washing peeling slicing dicing and chopping….freezing or canning…making jams and jellie or preserves…and all the pickling….I still do but on a much much smaller scale and never as much as you….I admire you very much…You are an inspiration for sure…Much love and prayers….

    • Hello Faye…
      Such a thoughtful and kind note… I truly appreciate it. BTW, I think he found a gem too, he-he 😉
      I love what I do which makes it more play than work. It is such a rewarding feeling when my family sits around our table and I know where almost all the food in front of them has come from…
      Many blessings to you as well Faye…
      Best,
      Jean

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