Weather you grow your own or buy in bulk, you will be faced with how to properly store garlic, onions and potatoes long term. There is nothing worse then spending quality time growing or hard earned money purchasing food and then having it go bad. There are two things I hate in life, one is lying, the other is wasting. So what do you do!?!?!
Did you know a regular ol’ paper bag (lunch sack) that’s been punched with holes can extend the life of your food for months? It can! The punched paper bags allow just enough air circulation to preserve these foods for an extended period of time, while the paper itself wicks away excess moisture that causes mold and rot.
Making the bags are easy to do and after I explain the process, I’ll tell you all about properly prepping you food and how to store garlic, onions, and potatoes. But first, the bags! You will need a hole punch and brown paper lunch bags or course. Also grab a pen/marker for labeling and some paper clips for closing.
I start by bending the bottom of the bag flap down (like below) just to make sure I don’t accidentally punch a hole in it. Trust me, once you start punching it gets a little addictive and fun and you don’t want to go over board!
Once I have the bottom flap out of the way, I fold the bag in half. Why? Because hole punches don’t have very much of a reach. When the bag is folded in half, I can quickly put holes in and am able to reach the center portion of the bag.
Simply go up and down the folded bag to place the air vent holes. You kind of get into a rhythm doing them and can make a number of bags in a short time. In fact, this is so easy to do, it is a great way to get your kids involved in storing food.
Once your bag is punched, make sure you label it! There is nothing worse then lots of bags and not knowing whats in them. LOL The onions will be easily identified by their smell, but different types of tators or onions need to be marked so you can easily locate them when needed.
The last step is to fill the bags and fold the tops over and secure with a paper clip. This is another step that kids are totally capable of. In fact other then labeling and overseeing the filling, you could totally force your kids to do, um I mean, involve, your children in this project.
Now, how do you prep the food for storage and where and at what temps do you store all this lovely food? Keep reading!
Onions and Garlic
To prep your garden harvested onions and garlic for storage they need to be cleaned and cured. Do NOT wash your produce. Simply brush off the dirt and lay them out on newspaper in a shady, dry, cool place, not in direct sunlight. Do NOT cut off the green stalks. What till they are completely dry and the skin tightly closed around the top of the bulbs before removing excess stalk. A little stalk during storage is okay.
Onions and garlic will last the longest in a dark, cool (but not cold), dry storage area. A cool, dark basement is a good choice, if you have one. Remember, onions should NOT be stored for an extended time in the refrigerator. The cold temperature will soften their texture. Cool, not cold is the rule on these. Also, don’t store them next to your potatoes. Both onions and tators give off gas that accelerate the other ones speed of decay.
Start by sorting your potatoes. Any potatoes with broken skins, bruises, or any other visible damage should NOT be stored as they will rot faster then normal. If you are digging tators, do NOT wash them. You will cure them by laying them out on newspaper out of direct sunlight, in a dry, cool place. After about two weeks, the skins will firm up and you simply brush the dirt off before storing. Of course you should wash them right before using them.
As with onions and garlic, basements, cellars, and out-of-the-way kitchen cabinets are great places to store tators. The refrigerator is too cold for potatoes. Tators like to be stored at temps less between 40-50 degrees. Also, do NOT store your tators near fruit. Yup, fruit! Fruit gives off a chemical called ethylene which encourages ripening and could cause your tators to sprout! And remember to keep your tators away from those onions.
**HINT** Making lots of littler bags vs. storing everything in one larger bag helps cut down the chance of spoiling. Once one item in a bag goes bad, the rest will quickly follow, aka don’t put all your “eggs” in one basket. Also, inspect your bags occasionally looking for soft produce.
**Tip** When making up storage bags, place enough of the item for either a meal (potatoes) or that will be used up in a week or two (onions and garlic.) This makes it super easy when making a meal to just grab and go!