General care gardens

Storage of root vegetables: Storing root vegetables in sand

At the end of each summer, at the height of the harvest season, many people discover that they have more products than they can use, resulting in a host of activities that attempt to dry or freeze what cannot be used immediately. You’ve spent all summer tending your garden and you certainly don’t want to waste it, but it can be exhausting trying to use every carrot, turnip, etc., in the garden. Another solution is to store the roots of the vegetables in the sand.

What is sand storage?

Did you know that American households waste more food per year than restaurants, grocery stores and farms combined? A plentiful fall harvest, while beneficial, can make you wonder about alternative storage of root vegetables. The storage of vegetables in sand has been mentioned earlier, but what is storage in sand?

The storage of root vegetables, as well as other crops such as apples, is not a new concept. Our ancestors, or mothers, used to store root vegetables in a root cellar, often nestled in the sand. The use of sand helps to regulate humidity, keeping excess moisture away from the vegetables so that they do not rot and extending their shelf life. How to store root vegetables in sand?

Storing plant roots in sand

Storing root vegetables in the sand can be done in two simple ways. First, you can use the drawer of your refrigerator as a receptacle. Start with “play” sand, i.e. the fine, washed sand used to fill a child’s sandbox. Fill the drawer with a few centimetres of sand and put in root vegetables such as turnips, carrots, beets or rhubarb, as well as any firm fruit such as apples or pears. Cover them with sand, leaving a small space between each one so that air can circulate. Fruit should be kept at least one inch apart. Don’t wash the produce you store in the sand as this will speed up decomposition. Simply brush off the dirt and remove green parts such as carrot leaves or beet tops.

You can also store the products in the sand in a cardboard or wooden box in a cool cellar, pantry, cellar, shed or even in an unheated garage, as long as the temperature does not drop below zero. Just follow the same procedure as above. Vegetables should be stored separately from apples, which release ethylene gas and can accelerate ripening and thus decomposition. Root vegetables that grow vertically, such as carrots and parsnips, can be stored in the same way, standing upright in the sand.

To really extend the life of your tubers, it is a good idea to keep them in a dry place for a day or two so that the skins can heal or dry out before burying them in the sand.

Potatoes, carrots, turnips, radishes, beets, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, leeks and shallots can be stored in the sand with excellent results. Ginger and cauliflower can also be stored in sand. Some say that Napa cabbage, endive and celery can be stored with this method for a few months.

If you have an excess of produce and your neighbours, friends and family refuse to take more, it would be a good idea to do an experiment to find out what other vegetables can benefit from sand storage.

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