STORING VEGETABLES FOR WINTER USE
DIG FOR VICTORY LEAFLET No. 3 (Page 3 of 4)
ONIONS AND SHALLOTS
Provided they are well ripened off, with no green growth remaining, and are firm and dry at harvest time, onions store well. A few inches of the shrivelled neck should be allowed to remain, and the loose outer skins should not be removed. Thick-necked bulbs are likely to store less well and should not be stored but be used up first.
If the season should turn out wet and sunless, making drying in the open difficult, the onions should be laid out thinly on the floors of sheds or on shelves or staging of greenhouses. Ventilation is, however, important for all bulbs, and onions store best in a cool, airy shed.
If drying onions in a greenhouse, do be careful if the sun comes out. Greenhouses can heat very quickly and literally cook the onions, which are then ruined.
If drying in a garage with poor airflow, a fan will help a great deal with the drying process. A handy drying aid is to make a rectangular frame with short supporting legs from scrap wood and then fix chicken fence netting to it. The onions then get air flowing across them from all sides.
Onions and shallots can both be stored in net bags hung in a dry, airy spot.
They may be made into ropes and hung up, or laid out thinly in shallow wooden trays or boxes. Open mesh bags are also suitable containers if suspended so that the air can play ail round. As a medium for the roping process, sticks, rope or wire may be used, starting at the bottom and working upwards.
The exclusion of light is not necessary, and in mild climates ropes of onions are often hung outside under the eaves throughout the winter. Although onions will stand comparatively low temperatures, from 33 to 35° F. has been found the most suitable for storage.
A periodical inspection of the stored bulbs is necessary, and any showing decay should be taken out and destroyed ; those showing signs of sprouting or root growth should be used immediately.
The storage of shallots should follow the same lines. They must be well ripened and perfectly dry before storing. Shallots cannot be roped easily and are best laid out in trays and boxes.
VEGETABLE MARROWS AND PUMPKINS
Pumpkins are actually better eaten after being cured and stored for a month or more. Harvest when the foliage dies away and leave outside in the sunshine to finish colouring the skin. If cold weather arrives early, a greenhouse or coldframe will protect them overnight.
These may be stored for winter use as vegetables and for preserving. Only fully developed and ripened fruits should be set aside for storage, and they should be handled carefully to avoid bruising the skins.
Being very susceptible to low temperatures and easily damaged by frost, these fruits require a warm, dry atmosphere, such as that of a kitchen, bedroom or attic, to ensure successful storage.
Cellars and outside sheds and other damp places where the temperature is likely to fall below 45° F. are unsuitable.
From 50 to 65° F. is the most suitable temperature for storage. The fruits may be placed in crates or boxes, or laid out singly on shelves, but are best hung from the ceiling in nets.
Given this treatment, they can usually be relied upon to keep in good condition until January or February.