Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some of our winter food storage ideas

Our food storage system is pretty rudimentary with most all of the produce from the garden harbored in plastic storage bins on the floor of the garage, close to the kitchen door. The garage keeps everything cool but not frozen and semi-safe from rodents (though my mountain boy has reservations about the rodent part. He thinks we've just been lucky to not have a mouse problem in the veggies. He's probably right.)

The red Coleman-type cooler in the top of the picture is filled with about #100 of Russet potatoes. The drain spout at the bottom is open and the lid is ajar to allow air flow and to (hopefully) keep the potatoes fresh until spring (or until we eat them all). What you can't see is that there is a bin beyond the potatoes that has about #25 carrots stored in it. We usually go through the carrots before they get soft or
sprout little roots. Otherwise I would bury the carrots in sand to keep them safe. There's also a couple of #25 boxes of organic apples. We usually get our apples from a friend's tree but this summer was so cool and wet that the local apple production was really poor and I had to buy fruit this year.

There's also a bin of storage onions under the steps and all that green stuff flowing out of the bucket are leeks and some smallish onions that I use for the greens. These guys will be used up in the next couple of weeks as the greens won't last too long in storage.

There are 14 heads of both green and purple cabbage that should be fine in the coolness of the garage until we eat them. If they start to turn, I can cut them up into wedges and freeze them in large gallon sized zip-lock baggies. Of course you can't use them raw but they taste great cooked with onions and ham after being frozen.

The red potatoes are all from our garden in town. We have been using the same potatoes for years, saving the largest from the pile of the harvested crop to be used again for the next springs garden. A friend asked me what kind of reds we used and I couldn't even tell her the name. A long time gardener gave me the first of these potatoes to grow when we moved to Montana and he has since passed. So the actual name of these great, successful potatoes is a mystery. Maybe we should just name them after our friend. What a nice tribute that would be.

We harvested all the extra meat rabbits, chickens and turkeys. Our freezer looks like this:

(The bird harvest was.......interesting and I'll post about it later. But for now, I'm just glad it's a done job.)

A corner of the garage floor looks like this (except that the pumpkins are not sideways):

The pumpkins are for us and the chickens. Last winter I had a couple of squash that got soft before we could eat them so I gave them to the chickens. I had read that the birds do pretty well on pumpkins as a vitamin C supplement during winter. So this year I hit up the local farmers markets just after Halloween for any and all left over pumpkins. I got a great haul for just cents on the dollar. I crack them open and step back as the chickens go crazy for the pumpkin guts. They eat the fruit down to the shell. It's kind of eerie to walk into the coop and see all these spent shells....kind of like the skins of dead creatures. Weird.

That's pretty much it for the root cellar type foods. My mountain boy husband says that he will build rodent proof bins for the garage next summer until we can get either a root cellar dug or built into the "to-be-built" barn. I have some great ideas about storing next years celery, live onions (as opposed to dead or dug up) and leeks.

Right now we have a spare downstairs room that holds the canned goods. But next year we should also have a real pantry to boast about......with shelves and everything! I also need to really think about water storage. We don't have any extra water stored at all. And speaking of water......we really need to look into a hand pump for the well, in case we ever have a true electric outage for any length of time.

Lots to think about.
Lots to plan for.
Isn't it fun???

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