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

PART 1: Autumn’s Bounty in the Root Cellar and Two Yummy Storage Crop Recipes!

Sunflower heads that Ryan and I harvested from our back field
 to feed the birds this winter

The Season of Autumn…
This is Neil’s and most of the children’s favorite season… I like it too, but I am all about Spring and Summer. I do love Autumn for the harvest though… the smell and crunch of the leaves under foot… the caa-caa of the Blue Jays feasting on the sunflowers in the front garden… the sound of the wind whistling through the leaves still hanging onto the branches… not quite ready to sail away…watching our can shelves, freezers and root cellars start to fill up to over flowing… Oh the bounty of Autumn, how thankful are we!  The children enjoy the slower pace that Autumn leans into… once the fields are plowed and all that is left is the hoop house and animal care duties, life seems to take on a slower pace… more relaxed and peaceful.  Now the boys and Neil are in full swing of making firewood to both heat our home and to sell at market. I love to hear the chainsaws roaring and the smack of the axe. I get to start using the cook stove again now… oh that smell of wood burning so close lends to a feeling more cozy than words can describe. I love our cook stove… it reminds me of when we would go way up North into Canada to visit my dad’s folks. They didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing until I was about 12 years old… I loved the smell that rose into the upstairs when grandma was frying up fresh eggs and bacon for breakfast… covered and cozy under her quilts… not really wanting to venture out into the cold… the heat would start to move slowly through the old farm house upstairs and then I would jump out of bed and quick get dressed and run downstairs.  Everyone else was always up and moving long before I. It was a happy feeling… a cozy, homey feeling that I had there.  Now I have a cook stove of my own and although I only use it in the cold months, I can’t think of doing without it. 

Life is good right now and quickly moving by… We are trying to get all the last things done around the farm before the snow flies.
Harvest time is in full swing for most farmers right now. We are expecting some freezing temps here the next couple days so many of us are picking all the tomatoes~ green and all and everything else that will not sustain a frost or freeze.  Ryan and I got all the sunflower heads harvested from the back field this past week. They are drying out nicely in the barn (see photo’s on my blog spot or web site). The back field is ready to be plowed up now for the season.  We still need to get all the herbs from the Sausage Garden in though… Much of the Fennel is still green; I need to harvest the heads that are dry to save the seed. This will be what Neil uses in our farms Italian Sausages; Parsley will be harvested for our Italian Herb & Cheese; Sage will be dried for our Breakfast; Marjoram, Summer Savory and all the others will need to be brought in as well. Garlic needs to be planted within the next two to three weeks for next years harvest; spinach, lettuce, sorrel, and parsley need to be transplanted into the hoop house for winter production. Life keeps us busy, even in our slower time.

This is the hoop house right now. We just
pulled out the majority of the cherry tomato
plants, leaving only a few until they are killed
by a hard freeze. We will plant spinach, lettuce,
chard, sorel and parsley transplants from the sausage
garden. We will direct seed radishs beside them
for winter production for our winter markets. 

As I have been mentioning for the last several months, I will be discussing how to keep all this beautiful Autumn bounty in Root Storage as well as drying and freezing herbs.  The bulk of the info will be taken and adapted from “Root Cellaring- Natural Cold Storage Of Fruits & Vegetables” by, Mike and Nancy Bubel; published by Storey Publishing.  This is the best book out there and gives the most concise information on this topic.  It is a must have for anyone looking to store what they have grown.  Be sure to check my blog spot at http://www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com for lots of great photos to go with this post! 

There are several aspects to consider when planning for a root storage crop and keeping it.  Much of this planning is done in January and February for the home gardener when the garden is being planned. The seed catalogs are abounding in the mail box and it is a thrill to sit with notepad and pen and jot down all the new things you want to try to grow… but you must take into consideration what you want to do with your crops~ simply have a small garden that you can snack on through the season or are you planning on feeding your family all that good stuff through the miserable cold days of winter when that beautiful garden is layered with white stuff and stone hard frozen.  Well, if the later is your intent, then planning is key & crucial… plus it’s just plain fun to page through those beautiful catalogs and plan that garden. Before I had my green houses and hoop house this was my only way to keep it together through the non-gardening months… now I am happily spoiled! 

Here is a list of the considerations that are crucial:*Choose crops that are meant for winter storage along with all the fresh eating crops during the growing season.
*The amount of moisture required for each particular crop.
*Temperature required to hold the crop.
*Where are you going to store your crops?
*Learning what can & can’t be kept together.

Today we will look at what crops are Good Keepers and Temperatures and Amounts of Moisture Required for crops.

 


~So here is a list of vegetable that keep well; I have not listed anything that I have not tried myself, the above mentioned book has a much more extensive list of thier successes.
*Beets- Detroit Dark Red and Long Season
*Brussels Sprouts- Long Island Improved
*Cabbage- Late Flat Dutch, January King and Danish Ballhead
*Carrots- Danvers and Chantenay
*Celery- Utah
*Kohlrabi- White Vienna and Purple Vienna
*Leeks- American Flag, Lexton and Bandit
*Onions- Copra and Red Zeppelin
*Parsnips- All American
*Sweet Potatoes- Beauregard
*Potatoes- Russet (White baker), Yukon Gold (yellow), Kennebec (white) and Red Norland (Red)
*Rutabaga- Laurentian and Purple Top
*Winter Squash- Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Buttercup, Butternut and any Hubbards.
*Turnips- Purple Top White Globe
*Apples- any late season hard apples will do well.
~ This is such a minute list of what is available, but I don’t feel comfortable telling you things that I haven’t personally experience. You can get really good details about crops and their holding qualities in Johny’s Seed Catalog along with our topic book.  Have fun with your garden and try two or three varieties of each crop to do your own testing and see what you & your family like. 



The next important factor to take into consideration when you are planning your crop choices is your location for storage and the amount of Moisture and Humidity that you are going to be dealing with.  This will help you determine which crops and varieties as well.  

Here is the list of “Storage Requirements of Vegetable and Fruits” that is in the above mentioned book which can be found on page 51-52. (I have adapted slightly).
*Cold and Very Moist- (32-40 degrees F and 90-95 % relative humidity):
Carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, celery, Chinese cabbage, celeriac, salsify, Winter radishes, kohlrabi, leeks, collards, broccoli (short term), Brussels sprouts (short term), horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, Hamburg rooted parsley.
*Cold and Moist- (32-40 degrees F and 80-90 % relative humidity):
Potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower (short term), apples, grapes (40 degrees F), oranges, pears, endive, escrole, grapefruit.
*Cool and Moist- (40-50 degrees F and 85-90 relative humidity):
Cucumbers, sweet peppers (45-55 degrees F), cantalope, watermelon, eggplant (50-60 degrees F), ripe tomatoes.
*Cool and Dry- (32-50 degrees F and 60-70 % relative humidity):
Garlic (keeps better in even lower humidity, around 50%), onions.
*Moderately Warm and Dry (50-60 degrees F and 60-70% relative humidity):
Dry hot peppers, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes and green tomatoes (up to 70 degrees F is OK

In the next post I will go into more detail with where to store all this wonderful bounty… keep posted!


Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling

1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 digress.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle.  Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high.  Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes.  Press on dough, draping over rim of pan.  Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly  browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once.  Drain bacon on paper towels.  Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown,  10 minutes.  Spread mixture evenly in crust.  Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows. 
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper.  Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust.  Top with sage.  Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes.  Let cool 15  minutes.

Asian Chicken Slaw

 

2 chicken breasts, deboned & skinned, cooled & diced
4 c cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 c  onions thinly sliced
3 tbsp rice vinegar or regular
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp sugar

 

1. in a large bowl, combine chicken, cabbage and onions.
2. Add remaining ingredients and toss to blend.  Add salt & pepper to taste.
3. Serve as a salad or fill pita pockets

Happy Day,
Jean